Things I LoveThings You Should Know


Happily a recent journey required neither a lot of cash nor a huge investment of time.  In fact, who wouldn’t want to play hooky and, at the same time, indulge in a favorite passion … anyone who knows me at all can guess this would involve orchids.

Every year, my best re-bloomer, now with 8 spikes
Another beauty in bloom

I have been an active orchid grower for 15 years give or take.  By that I mean several years of regular attendance at orchid meetings, having a greenhouse at home (gone by the wayside in favor of an outdoor kitchen), and operating a “plant hospital” for resurrecting relative’s plants as well as all of my own.  I rarely throw a plant out unless it’s hopelessly diseased, and am happy to report success at repeat blooming year after year.   

My plant hospital …

As shown above, I grow mainly above my kitchen sink in two large shallow trays.   The plants sit inside the trays on a bed of small pebbles.  Once a week I put the plants in the sink, water liberally and put them back in the trays to drain.   The pebble base aids in creating humidity which the plants love (orchids need only 4 things to survive:  water, air circulation, food and indirect light).  My other growing spot is a rack attached to the side of my garage for my cymbidiums (outdoor plants).  The area is shaded which the plants like and need.

The recent journey was a day trip to the Santa Barbara Orchid Show held early March for more than 60 years now.  A huge number of both growers and orchid societies compete for the coveted prize ribbons, all of which have been decided by the time the exhibits open to the public.  But what I really go for (no surprise) is to buy plants.  Get ready to ooh and aah at these remarkable displays!





Santa Barbara is one of the ideal agricultural locations for growing, not just for orchids but roses and plants too numerous to count.  There is the right combination of agreeable weather and ample space (both in Santa Barbara and neighboring communities such as Carpinteria).  Part of the allure is not only going to the show but visiting local growers:  Cal-Orchid, Santa Barbara Orchid Estate, and, my all-time fave, Gallup & Stribling.  G&S has a number of huge growing spaces with cymbidiums as far as the eye can see!  Now, just how many do I really need???


Just one of several enormous greenhouses at Gallup & Stribling


And the kids are safely strapped in for the ride home!

So my advice?  Go buy yourself a plant .. they last much longer than cut flowers and give yourself an “attaboy” when they bloom again!