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Victoria orchid show returns to UVic

Local orchid devotees gear up for 29th annual event
Orchid Grower- Poul Hansen
Poul Hansen checks one of his orchids

Poul Hansen admits he might be crazy for investing the time necessary to become an American Orchid Society judge.

Hansen spent seven years attaining the title, though his love for orchids is lifelong.

He will be among the judges at the Victoria Orchid Society Show and Sale set for March 3 and 4 in the University of Victoria’s Student Union Building.

“Since I was a little kid, I’ve been fascinated with flowers, since tramping through jungles in Ecuador as a child,” he said. “I’ve been fascinated with flowers my whole life.”

Hansen grows his own seeds and breeds plants in a greenhouse on his Prospect Lake property using simple methods he picked up in Hawaii in the 1970s. He remains a purist, refusing to clone his orchids – a mentality perhaps rooted in his encounters with the flower in its natural environments.

“I went to Ecuador a month and a half ago and saw them growing in the wild. I could not believe it – stompin’ through this kind of high elevation jungle,” Hansen said. “It was incredible. We saw hundreds and hundreds of orchids.”

Hansen, along with an international team of judges, will look for beauty, form and cultural superiority when he evaluates orchids from all four of B.C.’s orchid societies, including those of Patrick van Adrichem.

Like Hansen, visiting Hawaii helped van Adrichem develop his interest in orchids.

The two men have taken divergent approaches to growing the flower, however.

Through much online research, van Adrichem learned to genetically manipulate the flowers and now clones them and sells them around the world from his North Saanich home.

“Back in the day, the people who knew about (chromosomal doubling) wouldn’t tell you,” van Adrichem said. “The Internet has been great, and I’ve helped a lot of people. If you want to find something out, it’s on the Internet somewhere.”

A member of the Victoria Orchid Society, van Adrichem has won several American Orchid Society Awards. He will have plants on display and for sale. His prices range from $15 for seedlings to $250 for a mature plant. His average cost is $20 to $25 per plant.

The hobby doesn’t have to be an expensive or complicated endeavour, van Adrichem said, noting he has 2,000 orchids currently growing in his greenhouse.

“If you’ve got a basement and want to set up some fluorescent lights, it’s not a big deal to get into it,” he said. “People in all walks of life grow.”

The Victoria Orchid Society Show & Sale runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., March 3, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., March 4.

Admission is $7 for adults and $6 for students. A portion of the proceeds from the show benefit the Victoria Hospitals Foundation.

Orchids by the numbers

• There are more than 30,000 species of orchids and 130,000 hybrids

• A plant can take anywhere from three to 10 years to bloom

• 500 will be on display at the show