AOS News – June 2015

AOS Spring Convention 2015

I missed you in last month’s newsletter because VP Angelique Fry and I were attending the American Orchid Society (AOS) spring convention in Portland, OR. Angelique flew on a commercial flight from Santa Rosa and I flew myself in my little 4 seat airplane. We met up at the convention.

The convention was a combination membership meeting, show and sale. The show and sale was sponsored by the Portland Orchid Society and the Cherry City Orchid Society. To me it felt a lot like our spring show with a lot of added speakers. The speakers were amazing and came from as far away as Taiwan and vendors came from as far away as Brazil!

Members of the AOS attending the event held meetings during the weekend to discuss such riveting items as bylaws and treasury reports. They reviewed the current state of the Society and planned which direction it should go. I missed those meetings as I was overwhelmed with the speakers and the vendors (aka shopping).

Though similar to our show, the vendors at this show came from all over the world and had things to offer that I’d never heard of. An example of this was Dr. Kristen Uthus from New World Orchids in Manchester, Michigan. She had Neofinetia falcata (more on that later) ranging in price from $10 – $800 each. None of these was over 8 inches tall. The first time I passed her booth I didn’t even SEE her plants. Another vendor, Roosevelt Terrariums had everything related to terrariums; small enough for one special orchid or large enough to house a small collection. Their specialty is to design and build beautiful terrarium cases of fine hard woods, plate glass, air circulation and grow lights. Their cases keep orchids and mosses alive and healthy for years, and they customize any style of terrarium case. There were other vendors, but I really want to talk about the speakers.

The Speakers! Incredible. For me the speakers made the travel and expense of the event completely worth it.

Ron McHatton spoke on ‘Pest Management Done Properly.’ Ron has a PhD in Chemistry and is the AOS’s Chief Operating Officer as well as Director of Education. He’s an AOS judge and has been on the board of trustees more than once. He’s also been on the board of trustees for Orchid Digest and has been involved officially with orchids for over 25 years. Do you think this guy might know a couple of things about orchids?!?! I wish I could share his speech with all of you. If you are an AOS member you can listen to this recorded webinar at http://www.aos.org/default.aspx?id=753. You’ll need a PC however, not a Mac.

George Hatfield talked about miniature cymbidiums and Wally Orchard talked about ‘Disas of the Western Cape in South Africa.’ I had no idea what a Disa was until I attended this interesting talk. There were other lectures too, but my favorite was Dr. Kristin Uthus from New World Orchids.

Kristin’s specialty is Japanese Orchids. She studied both plant and animal ecology and evolution at Virginia Commonwealth University and The Ohio State University where she received her PhD. She taught biology and ecology at several colleges, including the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University, which made her a wonderfully polished speaker. New World Orchids specializes in Japanese species, including Neofinetia falcata, Dendrobium moniliforme, and Sederia japonica as well as Asian Cymbidium species. The Japanese keep Neofinetia falcata for their foliage as much as for their flowers.They are tiny, wonderful plants.

After her talk, I went back to her booth and bought a few of the less expensive ones (I still kill things occasionally so I have to watch my investing!) The booth I had all but ignored prior to her talk suddenly came to life and I knew exactly what was special and why something was more expensive than something else. This talk alone was worth the entire event cost of $97 for me.

As the conference wound down, Angelique wisely told me to save my money as some of the vendors might discount their prices on the last day. She wasn’t kidding. I went crazy! Half prices, woohoo! I generously offered to fly Angelique’s purchases, if any (::snort::), back to Santa Rosa in my plane so they wouldn’t get crunched on the commercial flight. The result was that my plane was so full of flowers and plants, I had to step over them to get into the pilot’s seat. The bicycle and the Voodoo box of donuts didn’t make it any easier.

If I’ve stimulated you enough with this missive to want to attend the next conference, you are in luck! It is being held this fall in early November, but not across the Country. No, it’s right here in our own backyard in Reno, NV. I’ll get you the dates soon. See you next month! Don’t forget to check out the AOS awards on the Judging Center website, which have been updated with its region’s awards, as well as the San Joaquin, Modesto and Sacramento shows. Go to http://www.csnjc.org/

 – Karen Wofford (AOS Rep)