The Arizona Orchidist Newsletter 

published by

The Orchid Society Of Arizona, Inc.

Founding Editor Clarence S. Lindsten, 1966





The Arizona Orchidist Newsletter June 1998





NEXT OSA BOARD MEETING: May 31, 1998, at the home of Ann Cherny, 6225 E. Keim Dr., Paradise Valley, at 1 p.m. (note the change of venue for this meeting)




Wilella Stimmell


Members and guests who attended our May meeting were privileged to learn about state-of-the-art greenhouse technology from our speaker, Gary Petterson, owner of Gardener's World. Growers who already have greenhouses, received new information, and growers who need additional time to convince their spouses that a greenhouse is an investment well worth siphoning money from "fixed" expenses in their household budgets, also were introduced to the latest technology in greenhouse design and products.


We were happy to see member, Vic Polk, at the meeting, and Bob and Shirley Garelick, former members. We hope Bob and Shirley will return on a regular basis, and that Vic will stay healthy (and well out of the way of immovable household objects!) so that he, too, will return.


An abundance of orchids and orchid-related items on our raffle table were donated by: Bob Garelick, Carrie O'Brien, and Jane Plotky, and from members: Suz Cramer, Joe Freasier, Phillip Liu, August Lorenzini, Bob MacLeod, Candy Pelz, Leith Plunkett, Maura Roberts, Lois Sauer, and me. (Suz said that our late beloved member, Everett Dean, "donated" the plant she placed on the raffle table, and while it had been a plant from his collection, you should know that SUZ tended the plant for the past year. She literally revived a stick!) Thanks to all donors and ticket purchasers for your continued support of our monthly raffle.


OSA's new SPIRAL-BOUND 1998 Membership Rosters were available at the May 7 meeting. They are out-standing! Thanks to Keith Mead, who prepared the rosters, for a job well done! Because OSA continues to grow, we need to add to the roster, the names and addresses of two new members:







On April 23rd, Suz Cramer, Bernice Ehrlich, Ken and Elsye Gettys, Phillip Liu, and I presented a program for first through third grade children at the Montessori Day School at Mountainside in Phoenix. OSA purchased 30 phalaenopsis seedlings for use in this program, and together with books donated by Bob Gordon, each child received a plant and a copy of Bob's BEGINNERS GUIDE TO GROWING PHALAENOPSIS ORCHIDS.


Mary Shaffer also played an important role in the program because she spearheaded the rounding up of 30 plastic gallon water jugs which became the new "homes" for the seedlings. Several of the children wanted to take their plants and "greenhouses" home, but Mary convinced the children that the plants could be better tended in the classroom.


Students, teachers, and other adults in the audience enjoyed inhaling the scents of the fragrant display orchids. The children enjoyed learning a bit about vanilla, and they saw a piece of a vanilla (planifolia) vine and a vanilla bean. Our apologies to the parents of the children who are now on a quest to consume large quantities of vanilla ice cream and cookies! After our brief overview of orchids, we set to work potting the seedlings. The children were very enthusiastic, and we who presented the program were well pleased with their response.


There are no pictures taken at Montessori, in this newsletter. AFTER the program, I discovered that the disk in my digital camera was already full with pictures from other OSA events. I knew there were 30 files on the disk, but I thought there was ample space left for Montessori pictures. Had I known it was "full", I could have deleted one or more of the previous files to make room for pictures from this program. The camera manual states that a disk will hold 40 picture files, and it had been my experience that a disk did indeed hold 40 files. The moral? Don't believe everything you read! We do, however, have photos of the event, which members are welcome to see. Thanks to Mary Shaffer for providing us with visual "evidence" of this, our fortieth community service program presented during the past three years.


We received a very artistic thank-you note signed by the children's teachers and all the students who participated in the program.


Follow-up on the effect of the program we presented on October 7, 1997, for the veterans in residence at the Arizona State Veteran Home: On April 24, 1998, I attended the spring meeting of the West Central District of the Arizona Federation of Garden Clubs. During the meeting, Leslie Goin, Recreation Therapist for ASVH, reported on the impact the garden therapy programs had on the veterans. Since October, many of the 12 clubs in the WCD had presented programs and purchased items for the veterans. Leslie discussed the impact all of the programs have had on the veterans. OSA presented the first program at ASVH. Two anecdotes Leslie related regarding veterans and orchids, confirm the value of our program. Mike, a burly male Viet Nam veteran tenderly cared for his blooming orchid for several months. At about the time the blooms began to fade, he was told that his medical problem had progressed to the point where he needed to decide to spend his remaining days in a hospice. He lovingly carried his orchid plant to Leslie's "office" and told her that his life was a lot like the blooms - fading. He appeared to be quite calm during the meeting, and as he handed the orchid to Leslie, he asked her to "promise" that she would take good care of his orchid. Leslie has kept that promise.


Another orchid-therapy-affirming anecdote involved Nancy, a Korean conflict female veteran who, prior to our program, stayed in her room all day, every day, with the drapes drawn. She had shut herself off from the world. On the day we presented our program, Leslie was startled to see that the "recluse" had ventured out of her room and into the activities room where we were presenting the program. Nancy "adopted" one of the blooming plants we had purchased for our program, and from that day forward, her life changed. Her drapes were no longer drawn during the day. Nancy's morale continued to improve, and you will be pleased to know that she is well enough to have been discharged from ASVH, and she and her orchid now live in a group HOME! Was the orchid the catalyst for the change in Nancy's life?



OSA DISPLAY/SALE AT THE VALLEY GARDEN CENTER, MAY 10, REPORT: From noon to 5 p.m., more than 2000 visitors toured nine homes in the historic Encanto/Palmcroft area of Phoenix. Visitors purchased their tickets for the tour at the VGC, and after the tour, they were transported back to the VGC. Several vendors had set up booths in the VGC garden, and inside the VGC there were sales tables by several plant societies/garden groups that hold their monthly meetings at the VGC. OSA was the only group that had a display as well as sales. The Homeowners Association concurrently held a bake sale in the east room of the VGC.


The winner of the huge, blooming Oncidium Sharry Baby 'Sweet Fragrance' raffle plant squealed with happiness when notified by telephone that she had won the plant. She thinks her sister's name, Sherry, was a good luck charm. Linda Grass, the lucky winner, might well be embarking on a new, intensely rewarding hobby. Surely she will come to believe rather quickly that life without orchids is like a day without sunshine!


OSA members who provided valuable assistance for this, the seventh and last of our Spring Special Events, were: Suz Cramer, Jane and Pete Heckel, Norma Kafer, Bob MacLeod, Maura Roberts, and Peggy Stejskal. We made new friends for OSA and sold a lot of plants. Thanks to all the members who helped make this event a success!


(All blooming, remainder plants will be liquidated at the June meeting! AND especially for the June meeting, we have purchased special brassia hybrids in bud because our members would not be able to find these plants elsewhere, and if we did, CERTAINLY NOT in bud!) Some of you may recall seeing Dendrobium Thailand Wu on our display table. This is an example of the fantastic plants which OSA purchases for sale at our events. Eight members had purchased "T. Wu's" at Desert Bloom. After seeing this spectacular dendrobium on the display table, two members who had not attended Desert Bloom, attempted to order the plants from the commercial grower. What they discovered was that D. Thailand Wu is no longer available AND the cost would have been TWICE as much as OSA priced the plants we sold!




RESIGNATION/APPOINTMENT: At the May 3 board meeting, Suz Cramer submitted her resignation as 2nd Vice President. Her resignation is effective June 1. OSA is still near and dear to Suz, but she will be moving back to Colorado in the near future. As per our bylaws, I appointed another OSA member to complete Suz's term of office. Norma Kafer has graciously agreed to complete Suz's term. Thanks to Suz for her efforts on our behalf and to Norma for agreeing to serve as 2nd Vice President for the remainder of 1998. Norma will be a busy lady because on May 7, she was elected 2nd Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Valley Garden Center! (Other officers elected to the 1998/1999 VGC Board of Directors are: Bill Carls, President; Bill Mooney, 1st Vice President; Mac Miller, Recording Secretary; Peggy Morphew, Corresponding Secretary, and Ardi Kary, Treasurer. This might be an interesting year for the VGC - an equal gender split of board members!)




OSA WINS AFGC AWARD! On May 13, during the AFGC State Convention in Tucson, AFGC President, Val Lee, presented OSA with a cash award and certificate for the most new AFGC members during the 1997/1998 fiscal year. OSA attracted more new members to the AFGC than any of the other 43 member clubs in the Federation. Having been authorized at the May 3 OSA board meeting to donate the money back to the AFGC, I endorsed the check and told the AFGC members in attendance at the convention, that OSA's board had decided to donate the money to the AFGC Scholarship Fund. Our gesture was greatly appreciated and created goodwill.




VANILLA AND BIOTECHNOLOGY: The children at the Montessori Day School at Mountainside inspired me to "surf the net" in search of information regarding the progress biotech companies have made producing natural vanilla flavor in the lab using plant cell culture. The web site of Rural Advancement Foundation International attempts to foster greater awareness of the issues affecting Third World farmers. According to RAFI Communique, they had warned back in 1987 that if two U.S.-based biotech companies were successful in producing natural vanilla flavor in the lab through the new technology, the result would be to "displace over 70,000 small farmers who grow vanilla beans on the island nation of Madagascar, and seriously disrupt that country's already ailing economy. Madagascar accounts for three-quarters of the world's vanilla bean production."


In 1991 the price for ONE pound of natural vanilla was $1200. The cost of one pound of synthetic vanilla cost $6. One vanilla bean in 1998 costs $3. Connisseurs of vanilla agree that the taste of synthetic vanilla is inferior to that of natural vanilla. Escagenetics Corp., a small biotech company based in San Carlos, Calif., had claimed that it could produce bio-vanilla at one-fifth the price of natural vanilla extract.


No information about Escagenetics could be found on the internet until...I searched for the company in a web site devoted to BANKRUPT companies! Escagenetics filed for Chapter 11 on January 29, 1996. I was unable to find out whether they obtained a patent on their bio-vanilla and/or whether they sold it to a viable company.


The other company mentioned in the RAFI Communique was David Michaels Co. of Philadelphia. It is a private company specializing in flavors and fragrances that had been working on bio-synthesis of vanilla since 1985, in collaboration with the University of Delaware. "In addition to cell culture research, the company is also attempting to breed hardier strains of vanilla plants with the goal of extending the cultivation of vanilla outside of tropical climates. The company refused to answer RAFI's questions about the current status of their work and outlook for commercialization.


Particularly noteworthy is the recent disclosure by the Danish food company, Danisko A/S, that it will discontinue its research on the production of vanilla from plant cell cultures. The company initiated work on vanilla in the mid-1980s. No explanation was given about why the company chose to discontinue this work."


It appears that the vanilla bean producing countries (Madagascar, Indonesia, and the islands of Comoros and Reunion) have obtained a reprieve from the imminent loss of revenue from a major export crop. However, vanilla remains the flavor industry's largest segment of sales - an attractive target for biotechnology. Perhaps the next biotech company will have "deeper pockets" than Escagenetics had?



VANILLA EXTRACT RECIPE: Want to make your own vanilla to give as gifts to special friends? Here is the list of ingredients you will need: 6 vanilla beans, divided; 1 quart generic vodka; 1 cup sugar; and one-half cup water. Cut each of 3 vanilla beans into 4 pieces; split each piece lengthwise. Place in a 3-pint bottle, and add vodka. Cover tightly and shake vigorously. Let stand in a cool, dry place 3 weeks, shaking the bottle every 2 days. Line a funnel with a coffee filter; pour the mixture through the funnel into a bowl; discard the vanilla beans. Cook sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; cool completely. Add to vodka mixture. Cut remaining 3 vanilla beans into pieces. Fill small decorative bottles with 1 vanilla bean piece and extract; cover tightly and let stand in a cool, dry place 1 month. Yield: 4 and one-half cups (The cost of ingredients: vanilla beans - $20; 1 liter of vodka - $5) Recipe courtesy of Agnes Amelia Schrey, Snyder County, Pennsylvania


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