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See spectacular orchids 

The 15th annual Central Coast orchid show will be held in Arroyo Grande on March 26 through March 28

- CULTIVATED :  Eric Holenda, who’s the senior chair of the Orchids Gone Native event, travels the world with his wife hunting for wild orchids in their native habitats. -  - PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • CULTIVATED : Eric Holenda, who’s the senior chair of the Orchids Gone Native event, travels the world with his wife hunting for wild orchids in their native habitats.
Imagine a room filled with hundreds of flowers and rich earthy fragrances. The blossoms, ranging from butterfly-like white to clustered yellow-and-red-speckled, all spring from one family of flowering plant: the orchid. In fact, one of every 10 naturally occurring plants worldwide is an orchid.  Found on every continent except Antarctica, orchids include 35,000 species.  Over the years, horticulturalists crossing species have produced hundreds of thousands of hybrids. On Saturday and Sunday, March 27 and 28, Orchids Gone Native will exhibit a fabulous array of spectacular blooms. The South County Regional Center will be converted into a veritable jungle forest blanketed in orchids.

“We have a reputation as the best small show around,” senior chair of the event, Eric Holenda said proudly.  Unlike such large, sometimes overwhelming shows as the regular event in Santa Barbara, this local orchid display is an intimate experience featuring eight vendors. Most of them, including SLO Gardens and Baron’s Orchids from Morro Bay, hail from SLO County. Some others will come from as far as San Jose and Los Angeles. Holenda explained that the “show is a unique chance to buy orchids from the people who actually grow them and give specific instructions on how to care for the flowers.” He pointed out that plants grown locally for sale are acclimated to the local environment and therefore stronger for growth here. Holenda maintains a large orchid greenhouse in Santa Maria.  Both he and his wife travel the world hunting and photographing wild orchids in their native habitats.

 The annual orchid show, sponsored by the Five Cities Orchid Society, is renowned for its friendly atmosphere.  People are encouraged to ask questions and view demonstrations on orchid maintenance. For enthusiasts, re-potting expos, a tour, and plant doctors will be available along with gardening supplies and books. “It’s an amazing opportunity for orchid growers to see what others are doing and to meet people from other orchid societies,” said a member of the Cabrillo Orchid Society, Scottie Sinclair, who owns 900 orchids.

Co-chair Bonnie Werring explained that California’s coastal weather is perfect for orchids.  “I don’t even have a greenhouse.  I grow a bunch indoors on my bathtub platform and in trees around my house.” These tough, resilient flowers are sold reasonably, some for only $15.

 About five years ago, the Orchid Society partnered with the Alzheimer’s Association.  A benefit for the Association held on Friday evening, March 26, will preview the show.  Featuring Central Coast wines, hors d’oeuvres, and a silent auction, the elegant reception will allow participants a first choice of orchids.  A raffle benefiting Alzheimer’s research and care will run throughout the weekend. 

As the name Orchids Gone Native suggests, the theme this year is tribal and everyone is encouraged to dress in costume.  Tickets for the preview evening are $40 and general admission Saturday and Sunday is $5.  Children 12 and under go free.  Show hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. The South County Regional Center is located at 800 West Branch Street in Arroyo Grande.  For preview evening tickets call 929-5749 or 481-3991 and for show information visit

Fast Facts

The World Rhythm and Motion Studio grand opening party will be held from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on April 3. The event includes free dance workshops and performances by teachers and students. Check out or call the studio at 550-8192

A free Easter egg hunt with thousands of prize eggs is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 27 in City Park at the center of Paso Robles. Meet the bunny in the Holiday House! For information call 238-4103.



Intern Alycia Kiley wrote Strokes&Plugs this week.  Send your business and nonprofit news to [email protected].


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