Chandler orchid growers lose a chance to shine at show SanTan Sun News

Chandler orchid growers lose a chance to shine at show

March 30th, 2020 development
Chandler orchid growers lose a chance to shine at show
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SANTAN SUN NEWS STAFF

One of the many event casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic hit orchid growers across Chandler and the rest of the Valley.
The Desert Valley Orchid Society Show slated to next weekend was cancelled, depriving them of their annual competitive floral art gathering showcasing hybrid specialists from Arizona and a friendly rivalry for cash prizes for their efforts.
It also was Chandler resident Karla Velesco’s first chance to shine as the society’s newly elected president.
Last year’s event boasted around 500 attendees.
Velesco had planned to bring at least 10 plants to be evaluated by judges of the American Orchid Society.
“It’s the only show in the Valley that is judged by the AOS,” she said, noting that judges come to Arizona from across United States with an extensive knowledge of speciation and gold standard specifications for each plant type.
Velesco explained the process to become a judge is similar to getting a college degree in orchids, with the training commitment taking from six to seven years.
The American Orchid society will celebrate its 100th anniversary next year, but Velasco said the Arizona-based societies are around 20 years old.
There is a Tucson group that competes in the building of the Gem and Mineral Show facility in March in addition to the larger Phoenix group competing in April.
Judges use a handbook to compare specimens to what has been deemed “award-winning quality.”
Plants that receive this award are virtually perfect representations of their floral ancestors.
Eric Goo, owner of Phoenix Orchids and a repeat competitor, said there is no limit to how many plants can receive the same award.
If two participants present stunning examples of a specific flora, they will both receive the same award respectively.
Goo has personally acquired over 170 awards for his plants, in addition to receiving this year’s International Herb Hagar Award through the AOS.
This prestigious annual recognition is given to one grower for a single-stemmed (“monopodial”) plant submission which is considered “the most outstanding example of a Phalaenopsis species or hybrid.”
A second award type is cultural in nature, which takes into consideration the grooming process and health of the plant.
Velasco described a winning plant from last year that was grown to remain very small, yet be extremely productive.
“It was less than a foot in diameter and it probably had two to three hundred flowers on it,” said Velasco.
“It’s very exciting to win,” Velasco said, adding that there are typically fewer than five national awards given at the show.
Velesco doesn’t just grow beautiful orchids.
“I’ve been trying my hand at growing food too. I’m very proud of the crop so far this season: spinach, lettuce, broccoli, radishes, cilantro, and carrots,” she bragged earlier this year on her Facebook page. “I even made lemonade from a neighbor’s lemons. It’s so nice to go get fresh produce from my backyard.”
Flowers that had been expected this year include a Paphiopedilum, commonly known as a Lady Slipper.
“Currently, there’s no way of cloning and making an exact replica to this,” Velasco lamented.
She said with their absolute uniqueness, the flower resembles a little lady’s slipper and was considered a shoo-in.
Goo is also a crowd favorite with his presentation of Phalaenopsis hybrids, commonly referred to as the moth orchids. His fragrant blooms feature shades of an Arizona sunset.
Orchid plants of all types are also on sale during the show from both local growers and vendors from more tropical climates.
Velasco said many visitors come in just to be awed by the beauty of nature and amazed by what the growers can create.
Buyers are encouraged to research or talk to the growers about the care of an orchid plant because the direct Arizona sunshine is too harsh on their intricate forms.
The Desert Valley Orchid Society gives orchid lovers the opportunity to meet and share experiences, tips and guidance about growing orchids
And people are always welcome to attend even if they’re not members, according to the club’s website.
“Our meetings are a lot of fun,” it adds. “We have a great plant table where members display their blooming plants so you can see what is blooming in what part of the year so you can have a collection.”
The group meets the third Thursday of the month at the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, 3641 N. 56 St., Phoenix, and a full year of speakers has been lined up.
Whether the April meeting will go on as scheduled, however, is another question. Check DVOS-AZ.com for updates.
Meanwhile, Velesco produced a short video on her Facebook page that celebrates some of the orchids that are blooming.

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