Various orchid tidbits, about flowers that our judges remember, have seen, or think that the stories might encourage amateur orchid growers.

-by Marion Allen-

The first time I was exposed to the world of AOS orchid judging was when I took my plant of Laeliocattleya Canhamiana var. coerulea to the monthly session in Denver in May 1991. I was nervous because I knew that the AOS President, Don Herman, was going to be there. I watched quietly in the background while the judges studied the plants that had been brought in. Then, I was thrilled to see that mine had been taken over to a work table for further consideration. Don was acting as team captain and I was able to overhear some of the conversation as the team worked. This was in a time when coerulea forms of commonly available hybrids and species were evaluated more closely than previously because several of the well-known hybridizers had been trying to improve both the shape and the color of the flowers. My plant had come from Stewart Orchids in California and it had produced four pretty good flowers with a good lilac-blue color. There is no true blue color in orchids and it was a goal of several breeders to produce the bluest color possible. I didn’t expect it to receive a high award because the shape wasn’t great and it was not a particularly full flower. But it was good enough to receive an HCC of 78 points. I got to know Don pretty well over the following years and I knew from the first time we met that we’d get on well. He led the team with humor and allowed the new students to participate. He encouraged them to present their opinions and then asked them to justify those opinions – everything a good teacher should do.

When the Rocky Mountain Center first opened I was the president of the local society and in charge of running AOS judging for the upcoming Trustees Meeting and Show so I delayed becoming a student. However, as soon as the dust had settled I applied and was accepted. It has been a rewarding and fascinating journey, one that started with one man who inspired me with his great knowledge and warm and friendly personality.