By TIM CLEVELAND
For enthusiasts of orchids, the months of February and early March are good ones.
Mill Creek Metroparks offered Jewels of Winter: Orchids from Feb. 1 until March 16 from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. each day in the D.D. and Velma Davis Education and Visitors Center at Fellows Riverside Gardens, located at 123 McKinley Ave. in Youngstown.
Classes were offered throughout that month-and-a-half period in which visitors were educated about orchids, in addition to an orchids exhibit.
“Our orchid exhibit, which we call the Jewels of Winter, is a place to see the diversity of this flower and plant family, which is huge,” horticulture director Keith Kaiser said. “There are 16,000 genus in this plant family. It evolved here at the gardens because we are all about plants and how we can connect plants with people. We didn’t do anything with orchids and we started to realize a couple years ago, this is the perfect time to do an orchid display.
“The winter is when they naturally start to come into bloom and why not? We want people to come to the gardens, it’s a slower time here in February and March, so if we bring them down to the gardens to see some beautiful plants, it encourages them to learn and see, but also come and visit the gardens.”
Each class was geared around 12 people who learned about the 30,000 species of orchids.
“That’s a huge plant family,” Kaiser said. “Some orchids like to hang and grow in the branches of trees. Some actually grow in pots or in the ground.”
Among the remaining classes are an orchid walk-about on March 4, and an orchid clinic on March 6. The March 6 class is sold out.
Each class is being led by Dave Miller, a volunteer from the Greater Akron Orchid Society. In the orchid walk-about, students will participate in an orchid walk highlighting the main varieties of orchids displayed throughout the Davis Center. On March 6, Miller and Jackie Land will walk attendees through repotting your orchid, plus they will receive an orchid to repot in class and take home.
“We grow and keep some of these plants year to year, maybe less than a quarter of them,” Kaiser said. “We buy new ones in each year. We don’t have the facilities for growing them and keeping them into bloom. There’s so much diversity and different types, they all require different growing conditions, so we can’t do that.
“This winter, our visitation has been very low due to the cold weather. When you have a program or a class, it helps bring up the visitation. The orchid classes we’ve been having have been extremely full.”