One of the state’s best orchid shows is getting ready to sprout for its upcoming colorful extravaganza. The 50-plus-year-old Michigan Orchid Society Palm Sunday Show features free admission and runs 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the United Food & Commercial Workers Union Building, 876 Horace Brown Dr., Madison Heights (the first block east of I-75, south off 13 Mile Road).
“Last year the judges looked at over 600 orchids for judging,” explained Diane Burton, the society’s show chairwoman and a White Lake resident. “This doesn't include those that are not registered to be judged nor those for sale on the vendor tables."
“Some people just come to see the exhibits, but the plants brought in by the vendors are very healthy, well grown, and well priced, so a good percentage of the visitors end up purchasing at least one new orchid,” Burton said.
The show comes at a time when orchids are all the rage in everything from home décor to women’s apparel. “Spring 2012 is abloom with orchids, from fashion to home fragrance,” wrote Charlotte Moss in The Wall Street Journal.
The Metro Detroit show draws orchid lovers from all over southeast Michigan and invites patrons to enjoy the inspiration for the refreshing orchid trend. Here, the best in orchids will receive honors from expert flower officials. Among judges and talented growers is Howell resident Lynn O’Shaughnessy, owner of a gorgeous Masdevallia Highland Monarch Free Spirit.
“Orchids are one of my favorite things to paint,” enthused Chris Unwin, an award-winning watercolorist, art teacher and art book publisher. “Orchids have great colors and beautiful shapes.”
Chris and her husband, Don, who loves to photograph orchids, grow several orchid plants in their West Bloomfield home, and for several years have enjoyed attending the annual Palm Sunday show.
“The best part about the show is that you can purchase plants from experts who give you advice on how to care for them,” said Chris. “I have so many, and yet, I am still tempted to buy more.”
Orchidalia — tips and tidbits:
• The Way to Water When it’s time for watering, Chris Unwin is adamant about never letting water pool up in the bottom of the plants. “I hold a cup of water over the plant and let the water run through it,” she explained.
• Let There be Light Because the flowers like the light in the kitchen, Unwin places them near a window by the couple’s every day dining table. “They like an east exposure and not sunlight right on them,” said Unwin.
• Orchid Organizations The Michigan Orchid Society meets monthly September through May. For more information, call (248) 851-3835, (248) 698-3045, or visit miorchids.com. The American Orchid Society at www.aos.org also offers great information.
• Read ‘n’ Reel Check out The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession, by Susan Orlean. It's a book about a man who collects orchids and a woman reporter who writes about him. Or rent the movie, Adaptation, based on the book, starring Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep and Chris Cooper. Bizarre and humorous, it's a somewhat dark story with edge-of-seat adventure.
• Show Time! Besides the Palm Sunday show in Metro Detroit, Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids typically runs an orchid show in January, hosted by the Grand Valley Orchid Society.
• Detroit Treasures: Belle Isle’s Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory was named after Whitcomb due to her donation of an unprecedented orchid collection, the largest in the country — many are still displayed (when in bloom) in the tropical house. The bulk of the collection is kept in the greenhouses and maintained by the staff and volunteers. For more information: (313) 331-7760.
• Making Arrangements: When arranging bright-colored orchids in a vase, use a simple vessel so there’s no competition between the vibrant colors and the intricate shapes of the flowers.
• Get it Now: Miss the shows? Try a local florist in St. Clair Shores or Grosse Pointe, or head to Lowe’s. “Orchids are a popular option here and a quick way to add a pop of color into your home,” said Colleen Maiura, a Lowe’s publicist. in Grosse Pointe and area Kroger stores also have orchids available in their flower aisles.