most exciting thing is this," said Michael Glikbarg, holding
up a spike of spectacular flowers, "When you make your own
hybrid and see it bloom for the first time."
The flower he's holding is his own hybrid, Dollgoldii
"Oso Grande." The lush blossoms look like they
were cut from yellow velvet etched with purple silk. Such orchids
can take years to develop. Glikbarg should know, he's been growing
orchids in Los Osos for 20 years, and Dollgoldii "Osos
Grande" is one of his most outstanding efforts to
date. The American Orchid Society rates orchids on a 100 point
scale. No orchid has ever received a perfect 100, but orchids
that score in the 90s belong to an elite group that are bestowed
a "first class certificate."
Dollgoldii "Oso Grande" is one such orchid.
Los Osos is a great
place to grow orchids. The climate is ideal, said Glikbarg: not too cold, not
too hot, and blessed with moisture-laden ocean
And while most people wouldn't associate orchids with
beer, they both share one critical influence: water.
To get good orchids and good beer, you need good
Los Osos water "is very pure," said Glikbarg.
"The wells we have are very good."
passion for orchids may be an inherited trait. He speaks of his
father with admiration as he describes how the senior Glikbarg
was traveling down the Amazon by boat some 25 years ago, when
he "looked into the trees, and saw these plants." He
didn't know what they were," said the son, "he didn't
know anything about plants then." But the elder Glikbarg
was fascinated by what turned out to be wild bromelaids, and even
climbed into the trees to get a closer look. He took a couple
of plants from the profusion growing there, and discovered a passion
that would take him all over the world in search of unique orchids.
Collecting orchids in the wild is now strictly regulated in most
countries, though collectors have actually saved some species
from extinction. "One of the jobs of the orchid grower is
to preserve the species," said Glikbarg.
30,000 species, orchids make up the largest family of
flowering plants in the world," said Glikbarg.
Famed for their showy flowers, orchids are also
popular for their scent.
"Fragrant orchids have been treasured in Asia for
centuries," said Glikbarg. "There,
fragrances can be valued more than the flower."
And not just floral scents, but coconut, chocolate and
vanilla. Hedy Avant, who's worked at the orchid
nursery about four years, can think of just one
drawback to orchids.
"The only problem is you get addicted to orchids
and you keep buying them," said Avant with a
for growing your own
can grow orchids," says Michael "Glikbarg,
who owns Orchids of Los Osos. "The myth is
they're hard to grow."
offers these orchid growing pointers: