Friday, February 4, 2011

Winter Carnival

Looks like some type of Miltassia.
I went! And wouldn't you know, the forecast was for snow. Mom came with, and we out-drove the storm. We stayed at my uncle's house and got to sample various foods from various restaurants. We picked up dinner on Friday from a little Italian deli called Brianno's. Delicious, but $47 to feed the three of us! Anyway, I was up half the night, excited like the little orchid freak I am, and woke up pretty early. We got to the festival at 10:00, just as it was starting, and I was in my element. We walked through the conservatory, which was ridiculously humid, and saw the results of the judging. However, there were a couple of hoity-toity photographers who parked their carcasses in front of each display and took 3,987,394,859,038,479 photographs before moving on. Honestly, some people. I took photos, but they really don't do much justice. I had seen pictures of all sorts of lovely orchids on the Internet and in my orchid books, but the real thing was a million times better. All my photos are from the contest areas. I wish I could give credit, but I focused on the flowers. A wonderful display for sure.

Miniature Phalaenopsis in a 2-in pot!

I had made sure to do my research well beforehand. As a novice in the world of orchids, I knew I should shy away from bright, flashy plants that I knew nothing about, as appealing as they might be. My own mother picked up a plant and said "Oh, how beautiful! It's only $25!" And it was gorgeous. I had no idea how to take care of Miltonia, however, and we decided to put it back based on that.

I read my orchid books thoroughly and chose 4 varieties that seemed suited not only to me as a beginner but to my available growing conditions (mainly light requirements). I singled out Cattleya -of course, what a beauty. Oncidium was another - those little dancing ladies had always appealed to me. Brassia was the third, because it was so unique. Last, but certainly not least, was Paphiopedilum. I especially wanted to own a lady's slipper orchid because it's the Minnesota state flower. However, the MN state flower is a Cypripedium; it's also illegal to pick the flower or uproot the plant. I figured a paph (also a lady's slipper) would do just fine.   

A prize-winning Doritaenopsis.

But I digress. I had intended to purchase only two or three plants based on preference, but once I got inside the vendor's area, I was riding on some sort of orchid high. To see all those people a-twitter and all those gorgeous plants, I practically lost my mind. I hadn't seen any of the genera -besides Phalaenopsis- in person before and was struck by just how beautiful these plants are. After the show, I was undeniably hooked for life on orchids.

I walked on up to Orchid Inn's table, run by an extremely nice Asian couple. They had a great many lady's slippers -in fact, they specialize in them ( I scouted around the waxy-looking blooms, some 4-5 inches across! I didn't know how large some of the slippers could bloom. I picked out a rather small one, which was in bud. I had already decided to pick not-so-expensive plants since I'd be traveling 200+ miles home in cold weather. If they died, my loss wouldn't be so great. Plus I could get more for my money. :) "I give you the age special," said the lady, and boom: $18 plant down to $15. Guess they don't get too many young people coming through. My variety is Paph. Supersuk 'Eureka' x Paph Raisin Pie 'Hsinying'.
Amazing lady's slippers!

I looked at an Oncidium - Sharry Baby, to be exact- which had a great chocolatey fragrance, but decided upon a more traditional looking Oncidium -Gower Ramsey, with yellow and burgundy flowers. This plant cost me $15 as well.

I wandered on over to some other booths, stopping at Orchids Limited, a grower located in Plymouth, MN ( They seemed to carry mainly Phalaenopsis/Doritaenopsis/Cattleya types, so I thought I'd take a look. And wow, were those flowers gorgeous. I was drawn, of course, to the beautiful phals. They never lose their appeal. I picked up what I thought was a phal, looked at the tag, and saw it was abbreviated Dtps. What? I'd never heard of Doritaenopsis. Turns out, it's a cross between Phalaenopsis and Doritis. However, it looked just like a phal, so I thought the care shouldn't be much different. I inquired, and I was right. I purchased an almost-miniature Dtps. in bud for $15.
A colorful Oncidium variety.
Not sure what this one was, but it was gorgeous.

 I explored further and set my sights on the Oak Hill Gardens booth. ( I purchased a Miltassia (Miltonia crossed with Brassia) and another Doritaenopsis (couldn't resist the flowers!), each $20. I bought a tiny Cattleya for $15 as well, and decided it was time to head out before all my money was spent. I ended up with 6 plants for $100; not a bad haul considering the prices that are usually tacked onto these plants. An Oncidium like the one I got would cost $35 on any other day. Being so close together in the same room forces vendors to be competetive, which drives prices down.

 I regret to inform you that after I purchased plants, I left. There was much more to see and learn, but I felt satisfied. Next year, I'll definitely take my time. An "orchid hotel" was provided, though, designed with the intention of having a place to store all your new plants while you saw the rest of the show; we were disallowed to bring our plants out of the room unless we were leaving.

Mom and I headed back to my uncle's house to drop off the plants - Our arms were full! Being in Minnesota, the vendors had set the plants either in a brown paper bag or in a cardboard box and then covered the plants with bags. I was still concerned about bud blast, however, and took great care that my orchids were as undisturbed as possible.

After the plants had been dropped off, the three of us headed out to Byerly's for lunch. Like the hillbilly I am, I had never been there before. For my fellow hillbillies information, it's a ritzy grocery store. However, at the Eagan location, you can choose a meal and go eat in a restaurant. A restaurant in a grocery store! Who would have thought? I got the Swedish meatballs with mashed potatoes and broccoli for about $9. It was excellent. I know this is a digression, but I seriously wanted to recommend it. It was awesome.

We headed back home after lunch, making sure to keep the plants warm the whole time, even when we missed our exit and ended up 45 minutes out of the way in Duluth. :) We got home eventually, and I unpacked my orchids. I planned to have a space cleared out for them, but I was just so tired that I wanted to sleep. I decided to just leave them on the table until morning. However, I failed to notice that my cat, Holly, seemed overly interested in the plants. I ignored the little voice in my head saying "the cat will get up on the table, knock over your lady's slipper, and break its bud off." So I just went to bed. I woke up at seven the next morning and came out to check on my plants. I stopped dead in my tracks. What do you suppose happened? The cat had jumped up on the table, knocked over the paph., and broke its bud off. I'm a little ashamed of my reaction: My eyes went wide. I shuddered, and I ran away down the hall, too horrified to speak. I cried! Oh, it was such a disappointment. I had so looked forward to seeing that lovely flower open. To top it off, paphs only bloom about once per year... so I'll have to wait for that.

Anyway, enough of my anecdotes. Here are some more pictures from the show. I'll post pictures of my plants in a separate post.

We weren't allowed inside, but they offered a glimpse of these orchids in spike.

A classic Vanda, receiving second place.
Another lovely slipper.
A gorgeous Phrag. Wouldn't have minded walking away with one of those, but they were fairly expensive.


This slipper was huge! Cup your hands, and you'll get an idea of just how large it was.

A display of many different genera. I can see Masdevallia, Cattleya, Oncidium, Phalaenopsis, and others.

A grand display of Doritaenopsis.

Look at all those lady's slippers on one plant!

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