Sunday, May 08, 2011

The Flowers of Love


Our neighborhood is decidedly modest. The houses, which date from the nineteen-teens and -twenties are tiny, the gardens are small.

Just up the hill, everything changes. The homes are significantly more posh, and some of the gardens are downright gigantic. I participate in an online gardening forum that's centered in the hills of East Oakland, and when I sign my messages as "Lisa on 41st" nobody has any idea where I live.

This past week, a message came across on the garden forum. A local gardening treasure was hosting its annual open house. Orchids Fiori D'Amore is one of those businesses that you might drive past a thousand times, and never even notice. On a quiet residential street, the owners have been collecting and growing orchids for a quarter of a century.

Every year, on the week before Mother's Day, Nina and Paolo Di Candia open their home business up to the public.

What a spectacular place it is! I stopped by the open house on Saturday, and then dragged Robb to see it on Sunday. I had heard that the owners were considering selling the business, and I wanted him to see this place, before it was gone forever.

Their primary focus is cymbidium orchids, which are a type of orchid that do very well -- outside -- in the San Francisco Bay Area. Since my orchid collection (such as it is) began when we were apartment dwellers, and since cymbidiums are large plants, I never considered buying them.

Until now. Yeah, I bought an orchid or two.

Aren't these plants spectacular? Imagine the care that goes into growing something like that.

The orchid growing facilities at Fiori D'Amore are vast, and beautifully well-tended. But you'd really never know this place was there, if you were to drive by. A visitor has to walk up a steep driveway (not so easy for Robb) and into the property that sits well back from the road.

Of course, not everything is in bloom at this time. I found the growing-houses as impressive as the show-houses. (By the way, I'm totally making up the names for all of these orchid houses. I have no idea what they are really called.)

The view from the garden is spectacular. Robb and I could see all the way across the San Francisco Bay, to the Golden Gate Bridge.We sure can't see anything like this from our little house in "the flats."

I'm in awe of the work and effort that went into creating this orchid nursery. This humid-house has a multi-leveled waterfall, in the middle of the orchid display.

Fifty-one weeks out of the year, this place is closed to the public. I'm delighted that Robb and I were able to see it, and share photos with our blog friends. Now let's just hope that I don't kill my new orchids with my inept care.


Mel said...

What a gorgeous space - thank you for sharing the pictures! Does it smell as rich as it looks? I don't really know much about orchids, I guess.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful! Someone gave me an orchid once and I immediately killed it with my lack of knowledge about that particular plant. The person who gave it to me kept asking about it's condition so often I wondered why they even gave away one of their babies anyway. Probably had something to do with it being in Michigan and the freezing weather we had there that would sneak up on nights when you didn't expect it. Yup, I didn't kill the plant, mother nature did. I'm sticking with that story.
Here in Pa I found wonderful sturdy hollyhocks growing in my neighbors fenceline and I'm going to dig it up and move it into my flower garden before the mow it over.


. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Mel -- I'm not sure about the fragrance, because I've got a cold! Usually, I like the "earthy" smell of greenhouses, an I didn't even notice that.

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Annalisa --

I'm not sure that hollyhocks transplant well.

Why not just harvest the seeds?

Christine said...

Orchids love inept care. In my experience, the more you learn, the faster they die. And for goodness sake, give yourself some credit! You're not in the "flats", I'd say you're comfortably nestled in the "foothills". Good luck with your new acquisitions!

Orchid Origin said...

I really enjoyed this post. I wish I had some of these Orchids to take pictures of and put up on my site. I am limited on space and can only fit the 15 that are on my desk. Thank you so much for the time it took for you to put this together and I wish you all the best. God Bless!


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