The Arizona Orchidist Newsletter 

published by

The Orchid Society Of Arizona, Inc.

Founding Editor Clarence S. Lindsten, 1966





The Arizona Orchidist Newsletter March 1998



NEXT OSA BOARD MEETING: Feb. 22, 1998, at the home of Ann Cherny, 6225 E. Keim Dr., Paradise Valley, at 1 p.m.


RESCHEDULED MARCH BOARD MEETING: From March 29 TO March 22, at the home of Ann Cherny, 6225 E. Keim Dr., Paradise Valley, at 1 p.m.



NEXT OSA MEETING MARCH 5, 7 P.M. Valley Garden Center, 1809 N. 15th Ave., Phoenix


 REFRESHMENTS FOR OUR MARCH MEETING WILL BE PROVIDED BY: Bernice Ehrlich, Jaye Lynn Garrison, and Norma Kafer.



HAPPY BIRTHDAY WISHES to our members celebrating birthdays in March: to Sara Heberling, Alan Ladd, and C.W. Moody on the 1st; to Wilella Stimmell on the 4th; to Joe Civello on the 14th; to Shirley Norman on the 21st; to Roger Scott on the 25th; to Jack Callison on the 26th; to Julie Rathbun on the 28th; and to Jarka Kazda on the 31st.



In Remembrance: OSA extends our deepest sympathy to the family of Robert S. Thompson, Past President and Co-Founder of the Volusia County Orchid Society, Lake Helen, Florida, and to the members of VCOS.


"The Volusia Orchidist" reported in the January issue that the memorial service, held on December 30, 1997, was "packed with family and friends".


The inspiration behind many of the corporate donations received by OSA for our December, 1996 fund-raising auction, was "Bob T." His e-mail messages were always filled with words of encouragement, wisdom, and a liberal dash of humor. During the evening, after the close of the first day of our November, 1996 holiday orchid show, Bob sent a congratulatory message regarding our authentic recreation of a rain forest. When asked how he came to know so quickly the details about our show, he replied, "Easy. Good news travels fast".


A tireless worker, Bob never asked more of others, than he asked of himself. He set the standard and served as VCOS President for eight years. He was truly an Ambassador of Orchids, and he will be missed.



Wilella Stimmell


Members and guests who attended our February 5 meeting were treated to a combination slide/hands-on program presented by our speaker, Dr. John Law. We appreciated the liberal infusion of cultural tips in the slide portion of the program, and we observed in the "lab" which followed, clever, inexpensive techniques for potting tall dendrobium keikis so that they would not fall out of their small pots. All keikis and potting supplies were furnished by John, and we thank him for his generosity.


Plants and orchid-related items on our raffle table were donated by: Ken and Marge Jantz, former OSA members who have relocated to Casa Grande, the Santa Barbara InternationalOrchid Show Committee, and from members: Joe Freasier, Leith Plunkett, and me. Thanks to all donors and ticket purchasers for your continued support of our monthly raffle.




During OSA's Board Meeting on February 1, the vote was UNANIMOUS: There will be a field trip to the 4th ANNUAL SAN DIEGO ORCHID FAIR, on Saturday, September 26, 1998. Stay tuned for more details and note the date. We will try to schedule our flights to allow for more time for trip participants to also tour Quail Botanical Gardens, the host site for the SDOF. And... we will include another activity that is sure to delight our travelling orchid "family".


 COMMUNITY SERVICE PROGRAM SCHEDULE UPDATE: On March 10, OSA will present an "Orchid Appreciation 101" program at MountainBrook Village, Gold Canyon, at 9:30 a.m. Thanks to Mary Ann and Carl Hom for handling the details in arranging for the program. (Mary Ann also wrote the promotional copy about our program for MountainBrook's newsletter.) The program to be presented for Deer Valley Senior Center on March 20 was noted in the February issue of our newsletter.


We have available for ALL interested members, a complete record of all programs presented from our first on April 20, 1995 to the present schedule. Copies of our Community Service Record are available at monthly meetings and board meetings. Also, if requested to do so, any board member would be happy to mail a copy of our Community Service Record.


ADDED TO OSA'S LIBRARY: Thanks to Mary Alice Baumberger for sharing her copy of "Plants & Gardens News", Volume 12, Number 4, Winter 1997, published by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. There are two articles about orchids contained in the booklet: In the first, an orchid "addict" reveals that his passion for orchids began with the purchase of his first orchid - at age 9! In the second, the author discusses "hot" new trends in phalaenopsis breeding, and appropriately titles her article, "Yellow Fever".


ORCHID SEEDBANK PROJECT: OSP is a sort of "clearinghouse" between growers who have orchid seed and those who want seed. Donors send excess seed to OSP in return for credit towards free seed from OSP. Upon receipt at the seed bank, volunteers inspect and assay the seed and store it under supposedly optimal conditions for the particular genus. The name of the species is posted on the internet or a list of available seed is sent via US mail to growers who request a list. There is no charge to those who send seeds or redeem credits.


OSP also sends at no charge, seed to conservation, research and educational groups.


The seed bank deals exclusively in seeds of species, not artificial hybrids. For those who would like to read the full text of an introductory letter from OSP, copies will be available at our March 5 meeting. You may also send an e-mail message to OSP Director, Aaron Hicks at: or visit OSP's website at:



LAST CALL TO RECYCLE XMAS CARDS/ALL OCCASION CARDS: For those of you who forgot to bring your discards to our February meeting, bring them to the March 5 meeting. Bernice Ehrlich will happily accept them. She will send them to St. Judes Ranch for Abused Children, where new cards will be produced for sale in the St. Judes Ranch gift shop.


SPECIAL THANKS AND APPRECIATION TO CAROL CLAPP FOR SERVING AS ACTING EDITOR OF "THE ARIZONA ORCHIDIST" for our January, February, and March, 1998 issues. Carol and husband, Maury, operate a Desktop Publishing business in their home near Tucson. Their lives are filled with deadlines for newsletters! We are fortunate to have had three newsletters produced by a professional.


 HOT OFF THE PRESS! The 1998 Schedule of Orchid Show Dates for Oahu and Neighbor Islands, is available. Our thanks to Wilbur Chang for sending the schedule. Copies of the show dates and meeting dates of the 21 orchid societies in Hawaii, will be available at our monthly meetings. If you visit Hawaii, try to include time to attend an orchid show and/or meeting. Haoles are welcome!


 OSA MARCH EVENTS: On Saturday, March 14, we will participate in the (8th) Annual Spring Garden Fair. The event is open to the public from 9 - 3 p.m., and is held at the Maricopa County Cooperative Extension Office, 4341 E. Broadway, Phoenix. We will discuss at our March 5 meeting, the time blooming plants for our display should be brought to the Fair and the time workers should appear for duty. We need your help and cooperation!


On March 26 through March 29, we will participate in the 8th Annual Desert Bloom, sponsored by PHOENIX HOME & GARDEN MAGAZINE. Set up for the display will be in the afternoon of March 25. Since this event is open to the public for FOUR days, we will need more workers than we have needed for previous displays at Desert Bloom. A schedule for the event will be circulated at our March 5 meeting. Sign up for as many time slots as your non-orchid life schedule will permit. We will also need blooming plants for our display.


Arizona Federation of Garden Clubs Food and Fun, March 28, 1998, 10 a.m., Mesa Country Club. Because OSA will participate in Desert Bloom, the date of AFGC's major fund-raiser simply means that OSA's participation in AFGC's fund-raiser will be passive. We will purchase cut orchid blooms so that the Federation can sell or auction them to raise funds and also donate for auction several collectibles that will befit the "heritage accent" theme of this event.


ASU's Lyric Opera Costume Department will furnish vintage clothes for some AFGC workers to wear at the event. It's not too late but don't delay making reservations for the event! Telephone Juanita Harelson, Chairman, at 491-0487. Tickets for the event are $25.00 each.


Can't attend the AFGC fund-raiser but would like to make a contribution to AFGC's scholarship funds? AFGC would be happy to accept a tax deductible donation in any amount. To make such a donation, call Amy Emary, AFGC Treasurer, at 391-3582 and/or send a check to 10495 E. Terra St., Scottsdale, 85258-5747.


 SAN PEDRO RIVER PRESERVE DEDICATION, Saturday, April 4, 1998, 10:30 a.m. - 12 noon: The Nature Conservancy is offering field trips exploring the San Pedro River at 8, 8:30, and 9 a.m. prior to the dedication service; a presentation by Dr. William Doelle of the prehistory of the San Pedro River Valley; and a program on Sonoran Desert Ecology. The fee for the day is $20, which includes morning snack, field trips, lunch and beverages. Registration deadline is March 16, 1998. OSA has received just one registration form, which includes a map of directions to the Preserve Headquarters from Phoenix and Tucson. Keith Mead, OSA's "official copier", will be happy to provide additional forms for interested participants IF you contact him BEFORE our March 5 meeting. Keith's; e-mail:


The San Pedro River is one of the few undammed, free flowing rivers in the Southwest. Canelo Hills is within the San Pedro National Conservation Area. August is the peak bloom time for the Canelo Hills ladies' tresses (spiranthes orchids), but participants would see likely spiranthes habitats and a variety of birds and both large and small mammals.





FOR YOUR INFORMATION: In Volume 48, March/April, 1998, of NATURE CONSERVANCY magazine, pages 6 and 7, there is a report of work being done by Dr. Thomas Eisner and his fellow chemical ecologists at Cornell University with scrub mint (Dicerandra frutescens). The rare plant, an endangered species, is known only in central Florida and its habitat appears to be limited to a few hundred acres. The exciting potential: oil from the mint "appears to be a natural insecticide"! Ants and cockroaches are apparently repelled by the scent.

(NATURE CONSERVANCY magazine is in OSA's library.)




Some growers have searched in vain for a source for native terrestrial orchids. At least one catalog company is now offering corms (bulbs) of Calopogon tuberosus. These corms are advertised as "artificially propagated under CITES #688006". The challenge in successfully cultivating these orchids would be to provide a bog-like growing environment.


C. tuberosus was formerly known as C. puchellus and is commonly known as Grass Pink Orchid. In the article, "Orchids at Granny Squirrel Gap, North Carolina", by Chuck McCartney, AOS BULLETIN, Vol. 53, July, 1984, page 706, the flowers of C. tuberosus are described as: "...pinkish flowers with the lip uppermost. This lip is topped with a beautiful tuft of brightly colored hairs, mostly tipped with yellow. The genus name, Calopogon, means 'beautiful beard' in Greek, and alludes to this tuft of hairs. These hairs imitate pollen, which bees use for food. Native insects mistake this 'pseudopollen' for food and land on the lip. However, the slender- clawed labellum bends under the weight of the creature, throwing it down onto the gracefully curving column beneath, where the bug picks up or deposits the orchid's true pollen."


The catalog of the company that offers C. tuberosus corms will be available at our March 5 meeting for those growers who fancy fragrant orchids with "leaves of grass". A call to the company revealed that the corms are shipped from South Carolina. And for more habitat/cultural information, see a variety of orchid encyclopedias, such as THE MANUAL OF CULTIVATED ORCHID SPECIES, by Helmut Bechtel et al.




After our February speaker concluded the main portion of his presentation, members in the audience were encouraged to ask questions. One of our newer growers asked a question that involved a plant she had purchased at a local home improvement center garden shop. Although the speaker's response was well-intentioned, the grower who asked the question as well as other growers in the audience, may now believe that they should ALWAYS avoid purchasing orchids anywhere other than commercial orchid nurseries. Surely our speaker did not intend to discourage budding orchid enthusiasts. Often blooming orchids can be purchased locally at a variety of garden shops, and if they can be purchased cheaply, and if the plants appear to be in good condition (with or without name tags), it is far kinder to a new grower's bank account to experiment with inexpensive plants than to purchase expensive ones that may well end their days on a compost pile.


In the January, 1998 issue of "Chula Orchids Newsletter", pages 15 and 16, Harry Seward, an orchid grower and employee of Home Depot in Reading, Pa., took issue with a few negative comments Harry Tolen (Chula Orchids) made in the December, 1997 issue, page 2, of "Chula Orchids Newsletter". (Harry T. has kindly given us permission to use "anything" he has printed, "anytime without asking". You're a Prince of a Fellow, Harry!)



"Some thoughts on the diatribe about Home Depot in December's newsletter. I am your customer. I have been growing orchids for 25 years, and have been an orchid addict for 2 years. I am a horticulturist for over 30 years. I have an Associates' degree in horticulture from State University of New York/Farmingdale, a B.S. from the University of Georgia and a Masters degree from Michigan State. Five years as a manager in a fertilizer company, twenty years managing a wholesale flower house, and have worked at several nurseries and garden centers on the East Coast.


I have taken an early retirement at 50 and now work 40 hours per week at...HOME DEPOT! Yes, run a Home Depot Greenhouse! It is neat and clean and well run. Any time I see a customer in the orchid section, I talk to them and encourage them. I hold free classes on orchids, bonsai, cactus/succulents and tropicals. The orchid class is the most popular and usually has about 25 people. My manager has taken the two year course at Longwood Gardens. He too is a horticulturist.


I know that we are the exceptions in the system. But we do exist! And we are making a difference! I learned long ago that you can't change the world; you can only change yourself.


Now the important part. Many of my customers really develop an interest. It is at this point my customers become 'your customers'. At the end of each orchid class, we discuss resources, the local orchid society...local greenhouses, AND mail order sources. I open up to most customers a whole new world. YOUR WORLD! I show them catalogs and lists. I explain this is where they have the most purchase choices. I know they will still purchase from me; maybe less plants and maybe more supplies.


So you see, in the end, Home Depot and the other mass marketers can actually ADD to your business. And about those people growing a million orchids, ready to sell them for peanuts...GOOD! Because this is the pool of people out of which come your next orchid addicts. The ones who MUST have something different and don't mind a second mortgage to get it! Get the idea???"


Recently I happened upon an experienced orchid grower who was working in a local garden shop at one of the large home improvement centers in the valley. Not only did the young man impress me with his knowledge of orchid culture, but also he expressed an interest in educating his orchid customers! One of the orchids for sale in the shop was Onc. Sweet Sugar 'Emperor'. I noted that the medium in the pot was cinders, and I asked if the orchids were purchased from Hawaii. The young man confirmed my assumption. Each plant had a name tag in the pot, and each plant appeared to have been grown under optimum conditions. I bought one! The garden shop orchidist thought that the price on this plant was expensive, until I told him that some commercial orchid nurseries have advertised this plant for 50% more. I bought this oncidium because I wanted it in bloom for a special occasion that day.


There ARE exceptions to the avoid-orchids-at-garden-shops "rule". There are garden shops where healthy, tagged, inexpensive orchids can be found. From my experience, it is rare to find such a shop, but if a seasoned, open-minded shopper/grower is persistent, he or she might find satisfactory orchids in a local garden shop and/or general plant nursery. If the shop is manned (or womanned) by an experienced orchid grower, a "mother lode" of sorts has been struck! Garden shops are NOT a substitute for commercial orchid nurseries, but they do serve a purpose. Our next most dedicated OSA member might have purchased his or her first orchid from a local garden shop!


Our thanks to Harry Tolen the commercial orchid grower for having the courage to print the response from Harry the garden shop employee. Harry T. had said that he "really stepped in it this time", but if the "Chula Orchids Newsletter" had not printed negative remarks about garden shop orchids, H. Seward, serious orchidist and loyal customer of Chula, would not have been inspired to make his thoughts known!


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