Did you know that there are more than 30 000 species of Orchids and each year, more are discovered in the orchid family? These exotic looking flowers happen to be no more difficult to grow than other household plants, unless you of course you are cursed with having a "black thumb".

Black Thumb: defn. The opposite of green thumb; to kill all plants and flowers when attempting to grow and take care of them.

Currently there are roughly 100 000 orchid hybrids registered because of all the advances in breeding. These varieties of orchids are spread across and found in many amazing environments on each continent except for Antarctica. There are some basic floral commonalities found amongst the variety of orchids that separate them from other flowering plants.

The stamens and the pistil which are the sexual organs of the flower and very fertile, are joined together into the column. Each flower on the orchid contains a whorl of 3 petals which are the inner organs. They are typically made with bright colours, attracting pollinators to the flower. Each flower also contains a whorl of 3 sepals which are the outer organs and protect the flower bud through its development. Although the sepals and petals of the orchid flower are very similar to each other, just like lilies, orchids have one distinctive feature on them; the lip. The lip (or labellum) is the lower petal of the three that has a unique shape to it. It is what makes the orchid so special and unique as the lip can take on an endless amount of shapes. Some examples of these special lips can be seen at the Orchid Show. The Cypripedium flower has a whimsical pouch in the centre of it (also known as the lady's slipper) and the Phalaenopsis flower have the intriguing "toothed" platform in the centre of it.

Some Types of Orchids

  • Brassia
  • Dendrobium
  • Cattleya
  • Masdevallia
  • Paphiopedilum (lady slippers or what looked like jugs to us!)
  • Vanilla
  • Angraecum
  • Zygopetalum
  • Miltonia
  • Epidendrum
  • Odontoglossum

The annual Calgary Orchid Show is the perfect opportunity to learn about the exotic world of orchids, how to grow and properly care for them, purchase unique species in the orchid family and speak to many orchid breeders. The show is predominantly held at the Triwood Community Centre in the NW of Calgary. The first area of the showroom displays many various gorgeous orchids. The bright, bold colours are almost overwhelming! Many of the orchids displayed, have won various awards and medallions.

You can walk around the first show room area which isn't quite that large in size. There are some paintings and photos of orchids on display as well. It was quite surprising to see some of the different orchids grown, ones that you cannot just simply walk into Safeway and buy. Some however were unfortunately wilting away already but most were still blooming beautifully. In the corner of the room, there was a lady who was explaining proper care and maintenance of orchids. Then you made your way to the next area where you were able to purchase the many kinds of orchids. Every color manageable was able to be purchased. Prices usually started around $20-$25 and went to as high as $70 for a single orchid plant!

The entry price for the show itself is $10 per person, if you are going by yourself the cost is not too bad to swallow, but for two people or a family the cost quickly balloons to the extreme. I do not believe we would attend if we had to pay the retail cost of the entrance as the venue itself is very tiny and over very quickly. It seems to be geared more towards getting a couple extra bucks from the folks who want to buy that exotic orchid and not so much for the folks who expect to go out, take in the amazing variety of orchids, see something new and possibly buy one orchid. What makes it a bit more manageable, for at least the last two years that we have noticed, Calgary Groupon has had a deal where you could buy a 2 for 1 voucher for $10. Come next year, if the entrance cost is cut in half or if they run the deal through Groupon again, I would say we would check it out again as it was a positive and fun experience.

*Fun Fact*

Cattleya Orchid: If you have seen the movie Colombiana then you will most likely recognize the name Cattleya. The Cattleya orchid predominantly grows in Colombia and was the inspiration behind the lead actress' name in the movie and her "signature" that she left behind as she lay a Cattleya flower by her victims.



Calgary Orchid Show Photos

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