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Gift blossoms into passion for orchid enthusiast

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Gift blossoms into passion for orchid enthusiast

Patty Reece holds up an award-winning entry during the 2008 show and sale.


POSTED March 13, 2009 4:32 a.m.
When someone gave Patty Reece an orchid to take care of herself, the poor plant didn’t last more than a week before shriveling up and dying.

But Reece – who turned her passion for jewelry into the long-running New York Diamonds franchise that has become a staple of the Manteca business community – wasn’t about to let the vibrantly colored flower end her interest in one of nature’s most unique plants.

Over the course of the last two decades, Reece has taken her experience from that one plant and transformed it into a wealth of knowledge that has led to two greenhouses full of more than 800 different species of the flowering plants – the beautiful treats that she says just take a little “tender loving care” to make bloom.

“They’re gorgeous, and there are so many different types,” said Reece – who spends her days operating her New York Diamonds location inside of the Safeway shopping center on Mission Ridge Drive. “The colors are so beautiful, and you know that you put in the work to make that possible.”

For the third straight time, Reece is serving as the President of the San Joaquin Orchid Society – going into her sixth year at the helm of the organization that boasts more than 100 members – and spent her Thursday setting up for the group’s annual Orchid Show and Sale that benefits the non-profit which strives to educate people on how to raise the unique flowering plants.

All proceeds from the sale – which runs from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. today and Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday – benefit the club and its dozens upon dozens of members that pour hours into crafting the flowering plants that serve as everything from table ornaments to porch decorations.

“One of the things that is really special about orchids are where they grow and how they grow – I have some at home that are growing out of coconut husks, and one that’s even growing out of a lava rock,” Reece said. “With the right conditions and the right care, you can really do some amazing things.”

And while the greenhouse work that enthusiasts like Reece put in takes time, dedication, and money, technology has also made the process of caring for the tropical flowers a little easier – from automated drip systems to pre-mixed additives that provide all of the nutrients necessary.

But good old-fashioned communication is still the best way to learn.

“With our new website you can find people who have questions, and learn about certain species that you aren’t familiar with,” Reece said. “It’s a great tool, and it’s something that’s making it a lot easier for people to get into something that’s so rewarding.

“Nothing beats seeing that flower bloom for the first time.”

Sherwood Mall is located at the intersection of Pacific Avenue and Robinhood Drive. Easy access to the San Joaquin Orchid Society Show and Sale can be found in the parking lot off of Yokuts Drive.

For more information, visit the group’s website at
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