Examples of orchids shown at previous Fraser Valley Orchid Society shows in Langley. The society is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. File photos

Fraser Valley Orchid Society celebrates 40 years of fascination with flowers

Annual plant show and sale planned for October

For centuries, people have been fascinated with the perennial herbs known as orchids, some to the point of obsession.

An article on the Smithsonian.com website called it “orchidelirium”and described how possessing an orchid was considered a sign of extreme wealth in the 1800s.

Collectors would hire orchid hunters to search the wild for new varieties which, as a result, were only accessible to the well-off.

Dianne Gillis developed her less-extreme but still considerable affection for the flowers nearly two decades ago when she was working for Brookside Orchids in Langley.

“I just fell in love with orchids,” Gillis said.

“It became a real passion.”

After her first two orchids died, Gillis visited the annual Fraser Valley Orchid Society (FVOS) show and sale held at George Preston Recreation Centre in Langley, where there was help and advice aplenty.

That was where the novice grower discovered the flowers came from places where it was dry for long stretches, followed by outbursts of rain.

She had been watering her orchids too regularly.

“They thrive better with (carefully managed) neglect,” she said.

At the height of her fascination, Gillis had about 100 varieties growing indoors in her townhouse.

“It seem to take a hold of you,” she said.

Gillis, now a long-time FVOS member, said part of the appeal is the fact orchids can be cultivated indoors, without requiring a greenhouse.

Among the many society members, she estimates perhaps three have greenhouses — all small structures.

Over the years, she has scaled back, reducing the number and size of the orchids in her townhouse.

“I’ve down-sized to 70,” she said.

“I’m growing miniatures.”

This year, the society will celebrate its 40th anniversary.

Members have decided the milestone will be the theme of this years annual two-day sale at George Preston, but the details are still being worked out, Gillis said.

“It’s a work in progress.”

​ The first FVOS meeting was in September 1978 at the Tynehead Community Hall, organized by Rudy Harfman.

The society website describes how people would drive in from as far away as Chilliwack to talk with other orchid aficionados and how, for some, a hobby could become a business as some fans became professional growers.

The FVOS was awarded a certificate of affiliation in 1980 from the American Orchid Society (AOS), the largest special interest horticultural organization in the world, which among other things, trains and credentials judges for orchid shows.

READ MORE: Orchid show and sale benefits hospice programs for youth

READ MORE: B.C. Orchid fanciers gather in Langley

The October 2018 FVOS show and sale is set for Saturday, Oct. 27 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday Oct, 28 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the ​ George Preston Recreation Centre located at 20699 42 Ave.

General admission is $7 or $10 for a two-day pass.

Seniors and students pay $6 or $9 for a pass, and children under 12 get in free.

Local vendors and orchid growers present will include Forestview Gardens, Tropical Gardens Orchids and Paramount Orchids.

There will also be an FVOS members’ plant sales table and the Orchid Species Preservation Foundation (OSPF) will be on hand.

More than 20,000 species of orchids exist worldwide, including some that grow wild in Canada.

Many are endangered due to over-harvesting or deforestation that has destroyed the trees on which they depend for survival.

Part of the 40-member, Langley-based society’s mandate is to educate people about how to recognize the flowers in the wild, as well as about the threats to their natural environment.



dan.ferguson@langleytimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

VIDEO: Vancouver Giants earn a 3-1 victory over Everett in season-opener in Langley

Langley’s major junior hockey team opened the season at home with a victory over the Silvertips.

VIDEO: Police cooperation leads to arrest and interception of stolen Langley truck

A pickup was stolen in Langley early Friday morning and crashed in Burnaby later in the day.

Extradition hearing set for Langley developer accused of fraud

Mark Chandler will go before the B.C. Court of Appeals early next year.

Family dynamics comedy comes to the Langley Playhouse

Brad Williams is directing the fall production of a comedy, Be My Baby, at the Langley Playhouse.

Aldergrove remembers generous spirit of John Jones

Aldergrove Athletic Park soccer field to be named after community leader

VIDEO: Neighbours fear impact of B.C. tent city residents

Greater Victoria residents opposed to campers voice concerns at provincial campground

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

Free vet clinic caters to pets of homeless, low income people

The first such clinic in Langley will take place later this month.

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Yukon man facing new attempted murder charge in B.C. exploding mail case

Leon Nepper, 73, is now facing one charge each of aggravated assault and attempted murder

Most Read