With more than 500 flowering orchids from around the world in one room, the Victoria Orchid Society’s international show and sale promises to be one of beauty and sheer flamboyance.
The show and sale is the highlight of the year for the society, attracting representation from B.C.’s four orchid societies, plus individual specialty growers and commercial vendors from as far afield as Taiwan. They all put their best blooms forward in 10 imaginative exhibits.
Reputations are at stake, with local, regional and international judges deciding winners based on American Orchid Society point standards. Of the 500 entrants, no more than five will emerge as winners.
But that doesn’t mean the show is just for elite growers.
“There’s something for everyone at the show,” said Art Macgregor, show co-chairman, “from plants that beginners can easily grow with success in their home, to the exotics for the orchid aficionado that will only thrive in a greenhouse.”
This is the 25th anniversary of the annual show and the second from which the society will share the profits with the Victoria Hospitals Foundation. Visitors can go home with a beautiful plant while contributing to a worthwhile cause.
One of the exhibitors to the show is Poul Hansen, who has managed to amass a collection of 3,000 plants in his greenhouse overlooking Prospect Lake. While his collection is one of the largest on Vancouver Island, it seems small when you consider there are more than 32,000 species of orchids in the world.
He expertise has led him to be in charge of all of the judges this year.
“It is a huge honour to be elected to lead the judges,” said Hansen, 71. “It is a cumulation of a 40-year love affair, or a kind of addiction, with orchids.”
He is one of a very few orchid growers to successfully germinate orchids from seeds, with plants grown in-vitro for the first few weeks of their life.
He will have about 20 of his plants at the show. He typically sells off his excess examples to further fund his hobby.
His six-by-eight-metre greenhouse is divided into two sections, one being 10 to 15 Celsius degrees cooler than the other. The change in temperature corresponds with the elevation of where his orchids were originally found.
Plants found at higher elevations flourish at a lower temperature than those growing near sea level. Examples come from exotic locales such as Colombia and Hawaii.
But native orchids are not included in his collection. Vancouver Island is home to around 20 of the 100 orchids native to B.C. While attractive in their own right, native orchids don’t take kindly to being disturbed.
“It’s a bit of a crime to try to dig up an orchid in the woods,” he said. “It means an almost certain death for a plant that is already so rare.”
Although he knows the areas where wild native orchids still flourish, he is hesitant to disclose their location. It would be unusual to see a grower present one in a show, although some Alberta examples are sometimes brought to shows, Hansen said.
Admission is $7 for adults, $6 for students and seniors. The two-day show runs 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at the Student Union Building at the University of Victoria. For more information, go to victoriaorchidsociety.com.
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