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Orchids Are Hot Items at Botanical Garden

Oct. 11, 2004 – St. Croix residents could not wait until the 11 a.m. opening of the St. George Village Botanical plant sale and the St Croix Orchid Society fall orchid sale Sunday at the Botanical Garden in St. George Estate. They started arriving at 9:30 a.m.
Diana Freas-Lutz, president of the Orchid Society, said the early birds were there because they wanted to get the best selection.
Just two hours after the official opening of the event, the society had already sold 50 orchids. The Society had 72 orchids shipped in from Hawaii. They included the popular and showy Cattleya and the unusual Oncidium.
Also presented at the show were numerous orchids that volunteers propagated from plants at the Botanical Garden. Each orchid sold included literature with it on the description and care of the plant. Lively conversations developed over tables of plants as Orchid Society members were on hand to answer questions.
The event has been held for the past 12 years, always in October. On Feb. 25, 26 and 27 the society will hold another show and sale at the American Legion Hall.
Carol Bamforth, unofficial head volunteer for the plant sale, said the Botanical Garden Plant Nursery Sale is the place to get local, healthy, native plants and support a good cause. The profits from this sale go back to the Botanical Garden.
She said, "The biggest sellers were anything with a bloom and color."
The turnout was exceptionally good for the plant sale, according to Bamforth. She said she believed residents were there, "sighing with relief that hurricane season was almost over." They were greeted at the entrance by evidence of Jeanne passing through the territory. The large West Indian Almond that had provided shade there was damaged by the storm, but it is being saved. It has been trimmed back from its 30-foot height to about eight feet.
The Botanical Gardens has eight full-time volunteers year round and during winter they get 12 to 14 "snow birds" who volunteer. Bamforth added, "We are always looking for volunteers."
The volunteers take actual cuttings and start the plants from Botanical Garden plants. Local horticulture experts identify the plants and tag them. Also members from the Orchid, Bonsai, Hibiscus and Fern Society help to identify and propagate plants. The selection and quality of the plants was said to be excellent by customers.
The plant sale is held five to seven times a year, but for those who miss the sales, the volunteers are at the garden on Tuesday and Friday mornings from 9 to 11 and plants may be purchased at that time.
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