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Small group, big love of orchids

By Doug Lindner
Solon Economist
CEDAR RAPIDS– When the Eastern Iowa Orchid Society (EIOS) hosts its first-ever show this weekend, there will be a lot of locals behind the scenes.
Nile Dusdieker of North Liberty will be judging, Jon Lorence of Solon is show chair and James Quaintance of rural Solon is a member and national award-winner.
The First Annual Eastern Iowa Orchid Show and Sale, co-sponsored by the Kirkwood Floral Careers Program, will be held Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 6 and 7, at the Horticulture/Floral Careers Building on the Kirkwood Community College campus, 6301 Kirkwood Blvd. SW, in Cedar Rapids.
“We’re a small group of people with a big love for orchids,” Dusdieker explained.
There are several orchid societies in Iowa, but only the Eastern Iowa club (formerly Iowa City) hasn’t hosted a show.
Dusdieker said the partnership with Kirkwood provided the show with a space (the lobby of the floral careers building), as well as an opportunity to showcase arrangements by students.
The show will feature 15 exhibits by orchid growing societies and vendors, and each exhibit could include dozens of orchids. Dusdieker estimated the show will have between 300-350 orchids on display.
Typically, club members participate together in shows, which follow guidelines established by the American Orchid Society (AOS), headquartered in Florida. Members contribute blooming orchids for shows which are hosted regionally in the Midwest.
Some enthusiasts like Dusdieker have become certified as judges, and that’s a role he’ll serve for the Eastern Iowa society’s show.
The show is open to the public from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Saturday, and from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Sunday, with voting both days on a people’s choice award. Official judging begins at 7:30 a.m. Saturday.
In a tribute to Iowa’s state fair, both a champion and reserve champion will be awarded to Best of Show winners.
Educational speakers will be included on both days, including a session by Lorence on “Repotting and Orchid Culture.” Other topics include using orchids for personal adornment, native Iowa orchids and prairie restoration.
Three reputable vendors in the region, including Orchids & Moore of Iowa City, will also be offering orchid plants for sale.
Orchids carry the reputation for being difficult, exotic plants, Dusdieker said, but many varieties can easily be grown in the house. There are conditions necessary for them, but they can stay in bloom for months and are fairly simple to maintain.
“Orchids are not as hard to grow as people think they are,” he noted.
There are over 10,000 species– some native to Iowa and others born of the tropics– as well as a genealogical trail of hybrids that dates back to the 1900s.
Judging at shows can include consideration of a hybrid’s parents, or comparison to the best orchids in the nation, as at a Wisconsin show where James Quaintance and one of his “slipper” orchids (paphiopedulum) were singled out for an award.
Dusdieker has over 800 orchids at his home. When their kids were in middle school, he and his wife Lois built on to their home, and that included a greenhouse above a third garage.
They started with a couple of orchids, and now they have too many.
“It’s one of those hobbies that mushrooms on you if you’re not careful,” he said.
For more information, please contact Andrew Coghill-Behrends, EIOS president, at mistercoghill@gmail.com, or Jon Lorence, show chair, at lorence5@aol.com.