Home and garden events around Sonoma County

SANTA ROSA: Spring orchid show ‘Orchids in Art’

Enter the mysterious and enchanting world of some of the world’s most sought-after plants at “Orchids in Art,” April 2 and 3 at the Santa Rosa Veterans Building.

Put on by the Sonoma County Orchid Society, the annual spring show features premium orchids for sale, an on-site orchid doctor to troubleshoot your orchid’s ailments, skill sessions, plants for sale by society members, a boutique with books, potting soils, bark and other garden related items and hourly drawings for prizes.

Skill sessions include talks on “Repotting Cymbidiums” at 11 a.m., “Getting your Supermarket Orchid to Bloom” at 1 p.m. and “Growing Orchids Indoors in Sonoma County” at 3 p.m. (on Saturday only).

Members will also lead tours explaining the rare and exception orchids on display.

The Carnelian Strings and Nicolette Rickles were offer live music while you stroll the show. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $8, free for kids under 13. 1351 Maple Ave., Santa Rosa. For information, visit sonomaorchids.com.

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SEBASTOPOL: Stay ahead of the gophers

Now that spring is here, the garden thieves are trolling for dinner. Arm yourself to protect your garden by learning about gopher trapping.

Gregg Crawford, aka “The Gopher Guy,” will demonstrate his modified Cinch trap during a hands-on workshop from 10 a.m. to noon April 2 at Harmony Farm Supply and Nursery. 3244 Gravenstein Hwy. N., Sebastopol. To sign up, visit harmonyfarm.com or email phamilton@harmonyfarm.com.

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HEALDSBURG: Learn how to grow roses

Do you want to grow roses but feel intimidated by the learning curve? The Russian River Rose Co. will offer a “Rose Gardening for Dummies” class on April 2 and 3.

Owner Jan Tolmasoff will offer tips on water-wise planting, fertilizing, mulching and grooming your roses. She will also offer live demonstrations on how to properly plant a rose. Demonstrations are at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Free. 1685 Magnolia Drive, Healdsburg. 433-7455 or russian-river-rose.com.

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SANTA ROSA: Unique plants for ponds

Sabrina Howell, the owner of Wild Toad Nursery in Santa Rosa, has been playing with ponds for 15 years, starting with her first pond in her own backyard. Since then she has built and maintained over a dozen ponds, all designed to attract and support wildlife, particularly during the recent drought.

Howell will talk about “Water for Wildlife” on Monday during the March meeting of the Santa Rosa Garden Club.

A certified California Naturalist through the University of California’s program, she has studied horticulture at Santa Rosa Junior College and Sustainable Landscaping at Sonoma State University. She worked for several years at King’s Nursery in Santa Rosa and with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife service on its Schoolyard Habitat Program.

Howell will bring a selection of unique plants from her nursery, which will be available for purchase.

The meeting is open to nonmembers. 1 p.m. Luther Burbank Art & Garden Center, 2050 Yulupa Ave., Santa Rosa. For information, call 537-6885 or email gardenclubevents@yahoo.com.

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SEBASTOPOL: Tips on drop irrigation

Learn the basics of drip irrigation during a free workshop today at Harmony Farm Supply & Nursery.

Certified Irrigation Designer Patricia Hamilton will focus on drip components, design and installation for trees, vines, vegetable and landscaping, as well as the various types of emitters, microsprayers, soaker-type drip hoses, timers, valves and other materials. The talk will be geared to smaller systems for homeowners. 10 a.m. to noon. To guarantee a spot, visit harmonyfarm.com or call 823-9125. 3244 Gravenstein Hwy. N., Sebastopol.

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SAN FRANCISCO: Golden Gate Park garden tour

The Santa Rosa Garden Club has some extra seats available for its April 6 Gardens of Golden Gate Bus Tour.

San Francisco raconteur Craig Smith will lead the tour of Golden Gate Park’s gardens.

The trip cost of $80 includes lunch at The Beach Chalet. The bus leaves at 8 a.m., with a stop in Petaluma for South County travelers. It will return at 5:30 p.m.

Deadline is Monday, March 28. For information or to reserve a seat, call 537-6885 or visit gardenclubevents@yahoo.com.

Compiled by Meg McConahey. Direct Home and Garden news to meg.mcconahey@pressdemocrat.com or call 521-5204. Please submit items three weeks in advance of an event. On Twitter @megmcconahey.

Disneyland of Orchids Autumn Show in bloom this April

ROCKHAMPTON Orchid Society autumn show, themed “disneyland of orchids”, will be held April 2 and 3 at Rockhampton High School Hall, Campbell Street entrance.

The event will be held Saturday, April 2 from 9am to 4pm and Sunday, April 3 from am to 3pm.

Entry is $3 for adults and free for children.

Free lucky door prizes and raffles during the weekend.

There will be benched orchids and foliage plants.

At this time of year there will be flowering cattleya, vandas, oncidiums, catsetums, hard cane dendrobiums, slipper orchids and many more varieties.

Members will also compete in the container, small and large display sections

Foliage art including flower arrangments and corsages

There will be orchid repotting workshops on both days and potting supplies for sale

The bonsai society and the cake decorators association will have stands

There will be plant sales of orchids, bromelaids and ferns as well as flower arrangments.

Out of town vendors – alice’s orchids (townsville) and mns orchids (sarina) will be selling their beautiful orchids

Our fabulous devonshire teas will again be happening.

For further details contact sandra rowcliffe mobile 0438 130 360.

*Source: The Morning Bulletin

San Diego Orchid Growers Harvest Passion And Memories

A few dozen adults crowd around tables in a large conference room at the Scottish Rite Center in Mission Valley. At the front of the room a grey-haired woman shouts a greeting.

“Good morning, everybody! We’re going to have a great show. We have beautiful flowers. So I’d like to start by going through some of the rules.”

“I got my first orchid when I was an adult to find a bouquet for my girlfriend for Valentine’s Day,” said Ron Kaufmann, chairman of the orchid society’s conservation committee and, like Peters, a life member.

“And the flower shop I went to had some pots of orchids sitting outside. So I thought, ‘That’s a little different.’ It’s something nice and not just a dozen red roses. And it was actually one of these,” he added, pointing to one of the thousands of flowers on the floor of the convention hall.

There are about 30,000 species of orchids in the wild. Add to that the 100,000 hybrids created by orchid fanciers and you can imagine the floral riot of shapes and colors at the orchid society show. Kaufmann is an oceanography professor at the University of San Diego and he says evolution has made the orchid an astounding plant.

“The infinite variety is just because they are designed to attract an infinite variety of pollinators. The pollen in orchids doesn’t get blown from place to place by the wind. All of that variety is designed to attract different kinds of pollinators to the flowers to accomplish pollination,” he said. “And that variety also tends to attract people, who have an interest in this wide variety.”

Who are the orchid people? One of them is a young man with a long red beard who’s a post-doctoral scholar in neurology at UCSD. His name is Kevin Rynearson.

“So, when I was a kid, after my grandmother passed away, we went to help my grandfather clean out his house and I went into his backyard, where I was never allowed to go as a little kid,” Rynearson explained. “It was actually a greenhouse that he had up in the Bay Area that was full of cymbidium orchids.”

There was some space left after they packed up the U-Haul so they crammed as many orchids as they could into it. For Rynearson and orchids the rest is history.

Most people may think of orchids as the fancy flowers you see on sale at Trader Joe’s. But the orchid society members who live throughout San Diego County see them as much more. One of those members lives in a big house on a quiet lane on Point Loma.

Betty Kelepecz is tall and confidant, the reflection of a career spent in law enforcement. She worked her way up to the rank of commander for the LAPD and retired as the chief of the San Diego Harbor Police. In her backyard greenhouse she shows me her “Darwin orchid,” which has a star-shaped flower and a 12-inch-long nectar spur.

Charles Darwin theorized the flower must have evolved with a moth that had an elongated proboscis in order to reach all the way down the spur to get the nectar and pollinate the flower. In the 1960s, a hundred years later, naturalists saw a moth do just that and proved Darwin right.

Kelepecz pointed out another flower in the shade of a pergola next to the greenhouse.

“Remember I was talking about that orchid from Peru that I fell in love with? … Well here it is! It’s called masdevallia veitchiana and it grows on Machu Picchu.”

She said the bright orange flower was given a name by local Indians that refers to the story of a princess who lost her lover and cried with heartbreak. The flower is called “tears of the princess.”

Kelepecz, of course, had a story about how she first became aware of orchids. When she was living in Long Beach her husband found a disheveled, discarded plant in an alley and brought it home. He said it was an orchid and Betty told him it was not. Her husband was right and the plant bloomed for 30 years.

Kelepecz said working for decades as a cop made growing orchids a place where she could find some peace.

“My background was one of a lot of stress. And so orchid growing for me was a place to go and to become calm… It makes me joyful. I’m a joyful person anyway but the joy in growing an orchid is to me the perfect joy.”

The fact that an orchid can grow at 8,000 feet in the Peruvian Andes is a pretty good indication that they can grow just about everywhere. Some live in the tropics but plenty can survive a hard freeze. A story repeated to me by nearly every member of the orchid society was that the flowers grow on every continent except Antarctica.

They say that San Diego’s mild climate is a great place to grow a wide variety of orchids. Rancho Santa Fe is where orchid society member Debby Halliday lives. Her property is expansive and well kept. Naturally, she has a place where she keeps here orchids.

“So here we are,” Halliday tells me after she opens the glass door. “This is my lovely greenhouse where I spend a lot of time.”

Halliday and her husband spent their lives in business, at one point selling cactus and succulent plants to supermarkets. But she says she’s only done orchids for love, not money.

“In 1970, I had just gotten married. We lived in Brooklyn and my husband was very interested in orchids,” she said. “So we together joined the New York Orchid Society. We built a little lean-to greenhouse in the backyard… We had the bottom two floors of a brownstone. And members of the New York Orchid Society gave us our first collection.”

Today, Halliday is a member of the San Diego County Orchid Society. She is a judge at orchid shows and teaches culture classes for the society. That’s horticulture. Like so many orchid people, the flowers are a bank of memories and emotions, maybe especially for Halliday, who has named her variety of a hybrid plant — the Lc. Mini Song ‘Donald Halliday’ — after her late husband.

“My husband got ill and he wasn’t able to stay around and enjoy it. But for me, it’s a great reason to get up in the morning.”

It’s the perfect joy.