The Western North Carolina Orchid Society (WNCOS) and the The North Carolina Arboretum will host the 20th annual Asheville Orchid Festival on Saturday, March 24, and Sunday, March 25, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Arboretum’s Education Center. World-class orchid growers and breeders along with regional orchid societies will exhibit hundreds of the plants in carefully crafted displays. Popular varieties, cutting-edge hybrids and rare species will be available for purchase from American and Ecuadorean vendors.
“The show continues to get bigger and better each year,” says WNCOS member and former president Graham Ramsey. “And since it is sanctioned by the American Orchid Society as a national judging event, vendors and breeders bring their best stuff, including the latest hybrids, to be judged and displayed.”
Free educational programs and lectures, many of them geared toward novice growers, will take place throughout the festival. Each morning at 10 a.m., Marc Burchette, head orchid curator for the Biltmore House, will lead a guided tour through the exhibits. A presentation on paphiopedilum culture, given by Hadley Cash with Marriott Orchids, and a repotting program led by Ramsey are among several other learning opportunities.
“One of our goals this year was to increase the number of educational programs so that something would be available to every single person in attendance, regardless of what time they arrive at the festival,” says WNCOS president Mike Mims. “We have achieved that through a diverse lineup that includes everything from workshops on basic orchid culture to orchids of South America.”
All admission proceeds will benefit WNCOS, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and help expand the society’s mission of sharing the excitement and joy of cultivating orchids and promoting orchid conservation.
“With approximately 30,000 species of orchids on earth—more than 40 of which are native to North Carolina—conservation and awareness efforts are important to protect our natural resources,” says Ramsey. “Many species, including some in our own state, have habitats that are extremely unique and limited.”
WNCOS, an affiliate of the American Orchid Society, generally meets on the second Sunday of each month at the Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau, located at 36 Montford Avenue in Asheville. All orchid lovers are welcome to attend the meetings, which usually begin at 2 p.m. and are free and open to the public. No experience is necessary, just an appreciation for orchids and a desire to learn more about them.
The North Carolina Arboretum is located at 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville. Orchid Festival admission is $5 for adults at the door. Children 12 and under are admitted free of charge. Normal Arboretum parking fees apply. For more information, visit wncos.org or ncarboretum.org.