Royal Horticultural Society

First Ladies and their Cattleyas: Barbara Bush

Barbara Pierce Bush’s signature white hair and friendly persona endeared her to the American public for decades as her husband embarked on his numerous positions within the federal government. Prior to becoming the 41st President of the United States, George H.W. Bush was Vice President, Director of the CIA, Ambassador to the United Nations, and Liaison to the People’s Republic of China.

The Merry Sisters of Spring

The Merry Sisters of Spring


The Bow Bells Revolution

It has been nearly 65 years, almost the length of a human lifetime, since a Cattleya hybrid named Bow Bells burst upon the orchid stage. The year was 1945 and the stage was the September meeting of the Trustees of the American Orchid Society. At the meeting, Clint McDade of Rivermont Orchids exhibited five plants of a new white cattleya hybrid called Bow Bells that had such outstanding flowers that one was awarded a First Class Certificate and the whole group received a rare Silver Medal of Excellence from the American Orchid Society.

First Ladies and their Cattleyas: Rosalynn Carter

In 1953, Jimmy Carter left a promising Navy career to run the family peanut farm in Plains, Georgia. Ten years later, he launched his first political victory by winning a seat in the State Senate. By 1971, he was Governor. His humble beginnings contributed to the public’s perception of Carter as a ‘Washington Outsider’ and helped him win the White House in 1976.

First Ladies and their Cattleyas: Mamie Eisenhower

Having won the greatest war of the 20th century, President Dwight Eisenhower in 1953 ushered in 8 years of calm and stability not seen in the United States for 50 years and, in the process, opened the Golden Age of Cattleya Orchids. First Lady Mamie Eisenhower was the symbol of prosperity and elegance and she loved cattleyas. She was rarely seen in public without her corsage of 2 or 3 cattleya flowers during her husband’s entire two terms.

First Ladies and their Cattleyas: Jacqueline Kennedy

John F. Kennedy was only 43 years old in 1960 when he became President of the United States, and he introduced a feeling of youth and excitement into the White House. His two young children were always underfoot and his young wife, Jacqueline, age 31, was a fashion statement not only in this country but overseas as well. Kennedy’s administration became known as
Camelot – the mythical realm of King Arthur’s famous Round Table and both Republicans and Democrats embraced his policies. He gave America a new aura of greatness when he announced that he would send astronauts to the moon.

First Ladies and their Cattleyas: Betty Ford

Betty Ford and her husband, Gerald, were eagerly looking forward to retirement following his 13 successful terms as a Congressman from Michigan.  The plan changed following a series of unlikely events which elevated Mr. Ford first to Vice President and then to President. Within that eight month period, Betty Ford found herself First Lady of the United States.

Cattleya warscewiczii

The king of the mountain heralds the arrival of summer


C. warscewiczii typical

One of my favorite times of year is early summer, not because the sun is at its brightest then, or because the days stretch lazily into long warm summer evenings, but because this is when my favorite Cattleya species, Cattleya warscewiczii, blooms.

Cattleya warneri

Cattleya warneri

As the newness of spring begins to wane and the summer sun smiles down from its place high in the sky, we find ourselves with a greenhouse full of the lovely Brazilian Cattleya warneri. This delightful species provides a display of lavender and purple that rivals and is reminiscent of its autumn-flowering sister from Brazil,Cattleya labiata. Were it not for their wide difference in blooming season, the flowers of one could easily be mistaken for the other.


Cattleya trianaei

This Lovely Lady Unfolds During the Winter


C. trianaei

Winter may be a dreary time of the year with its overcast days and long somber nights, but for those who grow Cattleya trianaei, it is a time to enjoy one of nature’s most colorful and captivating flowers.


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