World of Orchids

Guests at the annual “World of Orchids” show and sale last year are wowed by the orchid’s delicate intricacies. Visit this year, Nov. 8 to 10, at the Sons of Italy Hall in Winchester.

WINCHESTER – The Massachusetts Orchid Society (MOS) will look toward the other side of the world as they present their annual show and sale, “World of Orchids,” to focus on Asia and their profound influence within the orchid world. Located at the Sons of Italy Hall at 117 Swanton St. in Winchester, the show runs Friday, Nov. 8 to Sunday, Nov. 10. All are welcome to stroll through intricate displays of colorful orchids, and shop over ten national vendors of orchids, growing supplies and orchid art.

Thousands of wild orchid species can be found throughout the Asian continent, from high on the limestone cliffs of China to the lowlands of the southeastern Asian islands. It is this region, and the unique but delicate beauty of its orchids, that have had such an intense influence on orchid growers worldwide, and thus, on many collections throughout New England.

Several of these exotic collections, owned by private collectors, orchid societies or vendors, will be on display at the “World of Orchids: Asia” event in Winchester.

“Asia may feel a world away, but their influence on orchid collections is vast,” says Dina Deresh, MOS president. “One has to just walk into their local grocery store and see the waves of yellow, purple, pink and white Phalaenopsis, to see their influence.”

According to Deresh, Taiwan and Japan are well known for their modern day hybridizing, and can be specifically credited with creating many of the easy-care hybrids, such as the Phalaenopsis hybrid.

“World of Orchids” will feature something for every level of enthusiast, from beginner to advanced. Artistic displays of the more intricate Asian orchids, such as Cymbidiums, Nobile Dendrobiums, Paphiopedilums and Vandas, will be on display, while novices may enjoy the interactive Orchids 101 presentation, offered both Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Orchids 101 will explain watering techniques, sensible feeding, and how temperature and air movement affect orchids.

Certified American Orchid Society Judge and Winchester resident, Bob Hesse, was first involved with the Massachusetts Orchid Society in the late 1960’s. By 1975 he was a student judge at their first show, and that same year, he was also interviewed by the Winchester Star for a feature story.

Fast-forward to 2019, Hesse continues to judge for the society, still in awe of the elaborate beauty of the orchid.

He was introduced to orchids at the Chelsea Flower Show, while studying in London for his PhD, when he happened upon a display by the British Amateur Orchid Society.

“I was hooked!” exclaimed Hesse. “They have the most elaborate, variegated and intricate flowers in the plant kingdom, ranging in size from a tear drop to a dinner plate. They are weird, beautiful and puzzling - all driven by a relentless quest for cross-pollination.”

He remarked that there are more than 30,000 species across the globe, and a similar number of man-made hybrids, occupying an astonishing variety of habitats.

“They are found on every content save Antarctica,” said Hesse. “One can look for them in regions ranging from the arctic/alpine to the hottest jungle, and habitats ranging from the tallest trees to under the earth.”

It’s no surprise that this orchid admirer has been a judge since 1975.

“When judging orchids, the candidate plant is compared with an ever changing hypothetical vision of what might constitute perfection for the type - in terms of form, color, and presentation,” said Hesse. “Given the astonishing range of structure, form, size, and color, forming that hypothetical ideal is difficult, to say the least.”

According to Hesse, it takes a minimum of six years formal study and apprenticeship to become an orchid judge. “The learning after that fills a lifetime,” he added.

The show will also feature hourly tours of the displays, plant raffles, and several vendors offering items not typically available in this region. The show is $10 per person, with MOS members and children under eight, free. All proceeds help fund MOS, a non-profit organization.

“World of Orchids: Asia” show times will run 12:30 to 5 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. The Sons of Italy Hall is located in Winchester at 117 Swanton St. For more information visit

About the Massachusetts Orchid Society

Founded in 1952, the Massachusetts Orchid Society is a non-profit educational organization of individuals from all walks of life, who share an interest in orchids. These interests range from the simple appreciation of orchids as beautiful flowers to highly technical involvement in orchid breeding and taxonomy. Most MOS members are active orchid growers, growing their own plants under conditions ranging from window sills to artificial light gardens to automated greenhouses. MOS holds monthly meetings throughout the year, encompassing a broad range of topics.

Visit them at for more information.

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