Orchids Ahoy: Santa Barbara Extravaganza

One of the esteemed bud-and-buyer events returns for its 71st year.

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PERSONALITY OF FLOWERS: Any bud buff will swear on the nearest nasturtium that every flower comes with its own sense of self. Call it character, if you will, or an aura, but putting a rose and a daisy in the same personality grouping is like eating peanut butter with steak. (Actually, that might kind of work.) We're not saying pretty petal-laden things can't co-exist beautifully, but, rather, understanding their general oomph, and outlook, is part of the joy of gardening. And the flower that seems to arrive with the most mysterious of personalities, and the most alluring, is the orchid. No one will quibble over that; "The Orchid Thief" detailed, in riveting storytelling form, the elusiveness of this distinctive blossom. But can you generalize about a whole stratum of flowerdom, calling all orchids mysterious, or is this such a unique plant that each and every blossom has its own vibe? Prepare to delve deeply into this delightful enigma, and, perhaps, pick up a few orchids for your home collection, at one of the most esteemed gathering of orchidists around: the Santa Barbara International Orchid Show.

IT'S YEAR 71... for the flowery festivity, which includes "stunning exhibits & plant sales & orchid art & photography" plus "cultural demonstrations" and "floral arrangements." The upshot? If it has to do with orchids in any fabulous form, it'll pop up at the Earl Warren Showgrounds. As for theme of the 2016 happening? "Wild World of Orchids," yep. Over 50 vendors are expected, so if you are just getting started, and you need someone to chat with on the "water/sunlight/care" front, that front shall be well-covered. But how to choose from the some 25,000 orchid species out there? It's just like we were saying earlier: Character and personality can be found in each distinctive flower, and not singularly across a whole spectrum. That's a lot of orchids to get to know, and there will be a lot in Santa Barbara. Thank goodness flower fans will have three days to explore. Dates? Everything blooms from Friday, March 4 through Sunday, March 6. 

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