Orchids used to appear wonderfully rare and exotic, a specialty plant hunted by romantics, hobbyists, and thieves; today, pallets of hardy, year-round bloomers stacked in front of Home Depot have put a suburban smear on those evocative petals. But there’s still a way to swoon under orchid-sickness, by immersing yourself in a sensory tank of the blooms, filled with tens of thousands of different varieties placed just so — and sometimes lit dramatically from an angle, if the exhibitor has a nice tech setup. This is the experience of visiting the Pacific Orchid Expo. We’re not kidding about the sensory tank: The show promises more than 150,000 orchids, running at a nice pace toward the plant’s 30,000 known species. People who attend this event — the expo has run for 60 years — routinely say things like, “You know, I didn’t care much for orchids before, but my God! These orchids! GTFO!” It could serve as the motto. Then they want to see a black orchid, like the Dracula vampira, because they have the sickness.
Feb. 23-26, 2012

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