Time to stop and smell the flowers – literally. The 39th annual Orchid Fair is back at in the Enjoy Centre for a third straight year.
From April 1 to 3, the Orchid Society of Alberta takes over the Moonflower Room with a series of rare and exotic plants, spectacular displays, art, photography and various workshops and lectures for budding and expert growers.
There will also be 12 national and international commercial stalls selling flowering plants and other horticultural products.
For Alberta orchid growers, the most exciting event is the annual competition.
“We generally get about 500 entries, but we don’t know what we get until people actually bring the orchids in. We’re probably the biggest thing in Western Canada,” said orchid society president Darrell Albert.
A society member for 15 years, Albert is a Leduc farmer who grows wheat, canola and barley. On his quarter section, he has also built a 24-foot by 25-foot greenhouse that accommodates about 1,400 orchids of differing species and hybrids.
He plans to enter about 20 orchids, but is waiting until the last minute to select the most stunning flowers.
“An orchid blooming is a snapshot in time, so whatever is in bloom, that’s what I’ll pick. That’s what makes the show so exciting. It’s never the same every year.”
Half the Moonflower Room’s 15,000 square feet is devoted to the floral exhibits. The other half is designated for vendors.
Vendors are arriving from British Columbia, Taiwan and Ecuador bringing a variety of orchids that are both easy and difficult to grow.
“People need to tell the vendor what conditions are at home. If you buy an orchid from a cloud forest, it won’t live very long on a windowsill. Every species has different requirements. You want to buy something that needs the light and temperature requirements in your home.”
Albert notes that there are 27,800 currently accepted species in the world, 26 of which are native to Alberta.
“Orchids are found everywhere in the world except Antarctica.”
He also encourages photographers to bring their cameras.
“The light in the Moonflower Room, the glass ceiling gives natural light and you see the orchids’ true colours. You don’t get that under mercury vapour lights.”
The Orchid Fair runs Friday noon to 8 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $10.