Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Lure Of Orchids - Where To See Them

Some of the words people use to describe orchids include: beautiful, amazing, gorgeous, sophisticated, exquisite; basically orchids have that WOW factor. They exude an exotic feel about them.

purple orchid flower

I love orchids and have for a long time. They fascinate me, I grow a few of them, mostly the Phalaenopsis type.

various Phalaenopsis Orange Phalaenopsis flower

I always look forward to spring to see my orchids flowering and to go to exhibitions about orchids in the area.

Here are the exhibitions near my area;

1.   The Maryland Orchid Society Annual Spring Show

This was my second year attending the Maryland Orchid show and this time I went ready with my camera and questions but mainly to buy. Yes, I walked out with two more orchid plants which I hope I can grow and have beautiful flowers next year. Here are my new babies.

Orchid flower Orchid flower

What is fun about this show is the ability to ask questions of people who grow them for fun or for business.

Cattleya orchid flower

The Maryland Orchid Show also features the winners from their annual contest. I have to say that for me all of them are winners because they are absolutely beautiful.

Display of orchids at the Maryland Orchid Show

I also enjoy seeing the new varieties of orchids and colors. I always end up seeing something new. 
Orchid flowers

2.   The U.S. Botanical Garden Annual Orchid Show (Washington DC)

This year, I visited the U.S. Botanical Garden during their annual orchid show. This exhibition named the Orchid Symphony featured orchid displays in shapes of musical instruments while classical music filled the air.

Orchid display at the U.S. Botanical Gardens in D.C.

To tell you that it was beautiful is an uderstatement. Shortly after stepping inside the Conservatory I thought I had died and gone to heaven - it was gorgeous! It is times like this when I wish I had a better camera and I was a better flower photographer. The number of orchids, the variety of them, the amount of color, the fragrance and the displays were absolutely superb.

There were so many beautiful orchids that I have to write another post to show them to you, that is coming in the near future.

3.   The New York Botanical Gardens Orchid show

I missed the show this year but I already have it on my calendar for 2015. What a wonderful excuse to visit New York City and its gardens in the spring! Not that I need an excuse.

Purple and white orchid flowers

A Few Things About Orchids

So maybe you can say I am a little crazy about orchids but this year I wanted to learn more about them to perhaps understand my fascination.

Here are some facts about orchids, some which I did not know;
  • Orchids and Asteraceae are the two largest families of flowering plants with over 25,000 known species. This does not include the more than 100,000 hybrid varieties of orchids grown by horticulturists.
  • The orchid family consists of more than twice the number of bird species and more than 4 times the number of mammal species.
  • Orchids exist in every habitat in the world except for the glaciers; however, the largest concentration of orchids is found in the tropics.
  • Phalaenopsis and Cattleya are the most commonly grown orchid plants.
  • There is such a thing as a Vanilla orchid (vanilla planifola), which is where vanilla flavoring comes from Vanilla is native to Mexico, but is also harvested in Madagascar.
  • Orchids have bilateral symmetry much like a human face, meaning when a line is drawn down the middle of the flower, the two halves are mirror images of each other.
  • The Orchid is the national flower of Colombia (South America) having the largest number of species.

White cattleya orchid flowers

So what is my fascination with orchids?

I am Colombian-American and although I have lived in the United States several decades, it must be in my blood. Until recently, I was not aware (perhaps had forgotten) that the orchid is the national flower of Colombia. Or perhaps it is the bilateral symmetry of the flower that has me hypnotized as they seem to look at me when I look at them. Have you noticed that?

Purple and spotted Phalaenopsis orchid flower

So yes, I like orchids, I enjoy their beauty and they fascinate me.

Have you tried to grow orchids? If not, you should! It's not as hard as you might think. Start with Phalaenopsis - but don't overwater them!

Wishing you all, Happy Travels in your neighborhood.


P.S. If you enjoyed the photos, please like this post in Google plus and share with your friends. Thank you.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Local Fun - Columbia Festival of the Arts

One of the wonderful things about Spring are the many local festivals that happen during that time. After a long and cold winter, such festivals and street fairs are a great excuse to get out, enjoy the sunshine and meet some very talented crafters.

Waterfront in Columbia Maryland

The Columbia Festival of the Arts held at the waterfront in Columbia, MD is a two week festival that offers a venue to enjoy local performers, and allows world-class artists to showcase their crafts an demonstrate their talents.

Woman on a potting wheel making a vase

The opening of the Festival is a weekend full of FREE events; a craft show, musical groups, events for the children and this year there was model yacht racing.

What I enjoy the most is the opportunity to see the many crafts and speaking with their creators and listening to their stories. Linda is one such talented artisan - she makes Leaf Castings from cement that would make a very nice addition to any backyard as a water fountain, birth bath or just as decoration. Encouraged by her daughter, a talented student at MICA, Linda started making her leaves five years ago and she is still enjoying it. 

Photo of Linda one of her creations from Linda's Leaves
Linda showing one of her leaf creations

If you like crystal sun catchers, then Horse Spirit Arts makes some quite lovely and whimsical ones. I thought the rubber duckies were cute.

Crystal sun catchers

Do you need a new planter for your backyard? Well, I came home with this one (I love cats).

A metal planter in the shape of a cat

Do you need an idea for your child's birthday party? How about a Hero cape? Holly from Creative Capes can make them for you. They are adorable and a really nice idea, check out her website.

Do you need outdoor decorations or party spoons? This is why local festivals are fun - you never know what your are going to see or find.

Booth at the festival Spoons

And I always enjoy seeing art from local artists such as Mike McConnell, a graduate from MICA.

A painting from Mike McConnell

Street and local art festivals are a fun, relaxing way to enjoy the outdoors, see what artistic talented people are making, and meet a few of them along the way. You never know what you will see that dazzle you or who you might meet.

Have you gone to a local festival yet this year? If so, let me know. I like to add them to my list to of places to visit - you never know. Thank you for reading, please like this post in Google+ and share.

Wishing you all, Happy Travels!