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Native plants and exotic orchids will star in events next week

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Saturday, April 21, 2012, at 7:53 a.m.
  • Updated Saturday, April 21, 2012, at 8 a.m.

As our lush green spring continues, encouraged by mostly warm days and preserved by cool nights, the trend toward full-blown planting moves right along, punctuated by frequent mowing and weeding.

Tucked in among flat sales and more and more plants surrounding us all the time are two events next week at either extreme of horticulture — native plants and exotic orchids. They’ll allow you to buy plants grown in a place as near as Hesston and as far away as the Amazon (and I’m not talking about the online retailer).

The FloraKansas native-plant sale will take place at Dyck Arboretum of the Plains in Hesston, as the demand for adapted plants grows all the greater after last year’s hot and dry summer. And the Kansas Orchid Society will host a national meeting that will bring in growers and sellers from as far away as Ecuador displaying and selling plants we never see around these parts.

Not that the FloraKansas and orchid worlds are necessarily mutually exclusive: Some natives can be quite exotic-looking, and some orchids are native to Kansas.

Orchid show

“The neat part about this is that all of the vendors, which are coming from six states and away as Ecuador displaying and selling plants we never see around these parts. Not that the FloraKansas and orchid worlds are necessarily mutually exclusive: Some natives can be quite exotic-looking, and some orchids are native to Kansas.

Orchid show

“The neat part about this is that all of the vendors, which are coming from six states and Ecuador, put in an exhibit,” Sarah Pratt of the Kansas Orchid Society said of the event that will be Friday through April 29 at the Hyatt Regency downtown at 400 W. Waterman. The society also will host the American Orchid Society Spring Meeting and the Southwest Regional Orchid Growers Association Show. There will be some really cool and unusual stuff, Pratt said. “These are some of the top growers in the country, so not only will they have things for sale, they’ll have what they look like in bloom, too. Society said of the event that will be Friday through April 29 at the Hyatt Regency downtown at 400 W. Waterman. The society also will host the American Orchid Society Spring Meeting and the Southwest Regional Orchid Growers Association Show. There will be some really cool and unusual stuff, Pratt said. “These are some of the top growers in the country, so not only will they have things for sale, they’ll have what they look like in bloom, too.

“For instance, Erich Michel (of Indiana) grows ghost orchids, and this is the time of year he’s apt to have them in bloom. They’re the kind that don’t have any leaves. They are native to Florida. They are a challenge to grow. I’ve killed several.”

Local florists also are going to be taking some of these exotics and forming them into arrangements, Pratt said.

Admission to the show and sales area will be free and open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and April 28 and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 29. Hundreds of orchids of all types will be on display. Ten vendors from across the United States, including three from California, along with the one from Ecuador, will have plants and supplies for sale.

For those who want to get more in-depth, people can register to attend the spring semi-annual members’ meetings of the American Orchid Society and the Southwest Region Orchid Growers Association, as well as meetings of the International Phalaenopsis Alliance, the Slipper Orchid Alliance and the Pleurothallid Alliance. The meetings will include talks by international and national speakers and organizational, educational and social meetings.

The keynote speaker will be Leonid Averyanov of Russia, whose talk is titled “Orchids of Vietnam: Ecology of Ornamental Species.” Other speakers and topics will be Raymond Cloyd of K-State on “Pests of Orchids,” Robert Fuchs of R.F. Orchids of Homestead, Fla., on “Vandaceous Intergeneric Hybrids,” Oregon grower Patricia Harding on “Brazilian Oncidiums,” hybridizer Norito Hasegawa on “What’s New in Paphs?” California orchid nursery owner Alan Koch on “Species Habitat and Hybrid Culture,” and Bryon Rinke of the Kansas Orchid Society on “Phalaenopsis lobbii and parishii, the Species and Hybrids.”

For more information about registering for the meeting, visit www.kansasorchidsociety.com or call Pratt at 316-772-0321 or 316-772-5194.

FloraKansas

Dyck Arboretum says that FloraKansas is the state’s largest native-plant sale. It will offer many species of wildflowers and grasses, many of which are rare in cultivation, the arboretum says, along with a large selection of adaptable perennials. It will also include a talk by Harlan Hamernik on why we all should be growing chokeberries for good health, and a panel discussion of regional growers on the future of horticulture in Kansas and what we can grow here.

“This spring, we have seen a renewed interest in native plants,” said Scott Vogt, interim director and horticulturist at the arboretum. “Gardeners are more aware of the plants around them and what it takes to grow them in this environment. Some plants can grow here and thrive. Others need more attention and care to survive. After last summer, it is apparent we need to be more selective about what we include in our landscapes.”

Vogt and prairie-restoration specialist Brad Guhr will be on hand at the plant sale to answer questions and help people pick out plants. You also can see a list of plants that will be for sale and access a handy plant picker on the arboretum’s website, www.dyckarboretum.org. For the plant picker, look under “Design Ideas and Growing Tips.”

The sale will be open to the public from Friday through April 30. Hours will be 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 28, noon to 4 p.m. April 29, and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 30. Admission is free.

There will be these special events on April 28:

•  “My Favorite Plants for the Landscape” by Vogt, 7:30 to 8 a.m.

•  Come-and-go breakfast infused with herbs by Kay Neff of Neff Family Farms, 7:30 to 9 a.m.

•  Muffins for sale by Paula Simms of Morning Harvest Farms, 7:30 to 9:30 a.m.

•  “The Benefits of Aronias (Chokeberries) in the Landscape” by Hamernik, founder of HH Wild Plums of Nebraska, which specializes in the production of woody species hardy to the Great Plains. Harlan is a noted and awarded horticulturalist and plant lover, 9 to 10 a.m.

•  Ask the Experts: A Panel Discussion of the Future of Horticulture in Kansas and What We Can Grow in Kansas? 10:15 to 11:30 a.m. It will feature Hamernik, Steve Bieberich of Sunshine Farm & Nursery in Clinton, Okla., district community forester Tim McDonnell and Vogt.

•  Arboretum tour by Vogt, noon.

Reach Annie Calovich at 316-268-6596 or acalovich@wichitaeagle.com.

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