I had the pleasure of hearing Arthur E. Chadwick, author of The Classic Cattleyas, speak on February 15th when he gave a talk to the Windsor Farms Garden Club in Richmond, Va. An informative and entertaining presenter, Chadwick explained how to grow orchids in the home. He is pictured in today’s New York Times with First Lady Michelle Obama, for whom he created a namesake Cattleya orchid. (See An Orchid by Another Name Is a Marquee by Jason Tesauro.)

 Photo taken by Kay Tyler at Windsor Farms Garden Club meeting

Art, as Chadwick is known, and his father A. A. Chadwick, operate Chadwick & Son Orchids, Inc. in Powhatan, Va. The younger Chadwick calls the cattleya the “crème de la crème” of orchids. This is not a plant you can buy at the grocery store. The cattleya is the original corsage orchid and it grows in the rain forest, where it hangs from trees and thrives in full sun. It takes seven years to cross-pollinate, so hybrid orchids are relatively expensive.

 Photo taken by Kay Tyler at Windsor Farms Garden Club meeting
Chadwick and Son creates celebrity orchids, including the stunning purple CattleyaPriscilla Presley, a hybrid selected for the wife of Elvis, who gave her sixteen purple cattleyas for her sixteenth birthday. The Cattleya Priscilla Presley has a price tag of $200 due to its unique nature and the amount of time needed to create it.
Chadwick & Son will create a hybrid cattleya for non-celebrities, too, as long as they are willing to pay $1,500 and wait. For their patience, they will receive 20 seedlings and a Royal Horticultural Society stamp of approval and verification of lineage.


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