Caring for Patty Reece’s orchid collection takes a carefully balanced combination of knowledge and time.
More than 900 of the flowering plants fill her massive greenhouse and she keeps a watchful eye over each of them – doling out the right amount of care to keep the colorful blooms vibrant for as long as possible.
And starting today the Manteca businesswoman will be taking some of her most prized specimens on the road to the San Joaquin County Orchid Society’s annual show and sale at Stockton’s Sherwood Mall – an American Orchid Society-sanctioned event that local enthusiasts spend months preparing for.
During the mall hours – from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. today through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday – orchid enthusiasts can stop by the display and have a look at some of the unique species grown and kept by county residents and even purchase their own to either add to an existing collection or start a new one. The show will take place just outside the food court.
It’s something that as an active member of the organization Reece looks forward to every year. Getting to display some of her favorites, she says, creates a built-in conversation generator for like-minded green thumbs and creates an atmosphere where knowledge can be passed on.
Even though the economy has hurt the group slightly by taking away the discretionary funds for many, Reece says that the event shouldn’t be impacted too greatly and will likely serve as a recruiting tool to help add people to the rolls.
“We’re doing well as a group but we have taken a little hit because it’s a recreational activity for most people,” she said. “We’re getting ready to go into campaign mode to try and get more people interested in joining us, and this is where we normally get to meet people who would be a great fit.
“We’ll be offering lots of services like free repotting if people want to bring their orchids in to us. All that we’re charging for is the new pot and the bark that is used.”
Information is also free.
With years of experience and a whole group devoted to advancing their knowledge and understanding of the wide world of orchids, Reece and her societal counterparts use the event as a chance to exchange tips on everything from fertilizer to lighting techniques.
Just a little bit of insight from an old hand can make a big difference to somebody looking to expand their collection.
“We get a lot of annual visitors and followers that stop by over the course of the three days, and some are experienced growers and others just want to learn,” Reece said. “It’s an event that is open to everyone, and we encourage people to come out and take a look at what we have.”
The Sherwood Mall is located on Pacific Avenue in Stockton. To get there from Manteca take Interstate 5 northbound to the March Lane exit and head east. Follow March Lane until it intersects with Pacific Ave., and then turn left. Follow Pacific Avenue north before making a right on Yokuts Avenue. The parking lot is on the left.