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RVO's Orchid List - What we grow!

Greek God of the West Wind - Flora And Zephyr
Bruce and Louis

Welcome to the Orchid List

Well, the first question upon finding this site might be “What is the Orchid List?”  The Orchid List is simply our attempt at creating a living list of the beautiful (and sometimes not so beautiful) orchids we grow here in our greenhouse called RVO.  Our combined orchid growing experience accounts for over 27 years of caring for these mysterious and often frustrating and confusing plants.  In all that time, we have had wonderful successes and miserable failures, but we have never *really* kept up with exactly what we were growing or how many of each specific type of orchid we were growing.  Beyond that, now that our collection is quite large, it is hard to remember what some of them look like because they might bloom when we are busy with our real jobs.  So therefore, we created The Orchid List.  This hobby is quite an obsession, but it is one that we both find rewarding and relaxing.  This Orchid List then is our way of bringing some order to the chaos of our collective hobby.  (Long answer for such a short question –lol!)

Orchids for awhile...

Louis and I started growing orchids together in Charlottesville, Virginia in 1995.  Since that time, we have really taken our hobby to the next level.  In 1996, we moved to Arkansas were I started a new job and Louis finished his undergraduate work. Once we found a place to live, the first thing we had to do was to find a way to procect our orchids from the sun..  At first it was fairly easy.  Since it was August in Arkansas, we took some shade cloth and made a ‘tent’ under which we placed our various orchids.  These orchids numbered about 150 - 200 at that time.  When we moved from Charlottesville, we drove them to our new home in a U-haul truck.  Granted we also had our orchid pots and other orchid paraphernalia to move, so therefore we needed a truck.   

Anyway, we built a tent.  This worked for about three months and then it started getting cold.  We both knew that our orchids would need to be provided with warmth if they were going to make it through the winter months.  Our new home did not have any place for the orchids.  The windows were all fairly small (why didn’t we think of this when buying a place??) and did not let in much light.  We had to find another solution.  So, we took some plastic and wrapped a small gazebo that was on the property.  We placed the orchids inside and put in a portable electric oil-radiator type heater in the center of the space, and then completely sealed off the gazebo with plastic.  The next spring, when we opened up the orchid gazebo, we found that most of our plants that were on the outer edges of the gazebo were frozen/dead.  The ones hanging above the heater and the ones right next to the heater suffered some damage that would set them back for some time, but at least they were alive.  This knocked our orchid numbers down to about 25 plants.  A mixture of cattleya type orchids and vanda type orchids.  That summer we decided it was time to build a proper greenhouse if we were going to keep the remaining plants alive.

Building the Greenhouse Together we decided what we wanted.  Louis had worked for a few summers for an orchid nursery called Pine Crest Orchids, in Virginia.  The two guys that owned the place were our friends and helped Louis decide what equipment to buy and gave us the inside tract on who to buy it from.  My background is in design, so my part of the job was to design the look of the greenhouse and then draft the building plans.  We wanted the greenhouse to look like our home and not some ‘tent’ in the back yard, so I worked very hard to copy the design details of our home onto the greenhouse… (read more) 

Creating River Valley Orchidworks Once Louis achieved his degree from the university, he had more time on his hands for managing the orchids.  The blooms increased in numbers and the plants started growing and growing.  Louis wanted to find a way to incorporate his hobby of the orchids into a business.  The idea was that we could sell orchids over the internet and eventually the sales would pay for our collection and the greenhouse maintenance.  He built a website and came up with the name: River Valley Orchidworks.  River Valley because we live in the Arkansas River Valley and Orchidworks because… (read more)

Closing our Orchid Business The day that we decided to stop selling orchids was a difficult day for us.  We had worked so hard, especially Louis.  The monetary investment in the company was tremendous, but the amount of effort put into advertising and customer relations was ten fold the monetary costs.  We felt like we had failed ourselves and our goals.  We invested so much into this business that it was like loosing a family member when it ended.  I will never forget the day that Louis put up the notice on the home page that the River Valley Orchidworks Catalog was closed.  It was a moment that … (read more)

Growing an Orchid Community RVO’s OrchidTalk Orchid Forum has been a wonderful blessing to us and to the community that populates its pages.  After closing the sales catalog, we decided that we would attempt to keep the forum open.  We had met so many wonderful people and made such great friendships, closing the forum along with the catalog would be just devastating to us. So many people relied on the forum for help and community. … (read more)

Cataloguing our Plants The process of creating The Orchid List is a long and tedious one.  I don’t mind spending the time in the greenhouse going to each and every pot and typing the label into the computer, but then searching through our photographs and finding the photos, resizing them, and then putting all of that information into a website takes lots of time.  Thank God I am a college professor and have my summer free to do what I want.  I could not imagine doing this cataloging if I had to work at the same time.  Currently … (read more)

Why Zefyr? Zephyrus is the Greek god of the West Wind, believed to live in a cave on Thrace. He is the son of Eos and Astraeus and the brother of Boreas, Eurus and Notus. Some consider him and Iris, the goddess of the rainbow, as the parents of Eros, the god of love, and of Pothos (Longing) who was an attendant of Aphrodite.
The West Wind had fallen in love with a handsome youth named Hyacinthus, who also was a favorite of Apollo, the god of light. One day Apollo was teaching Hyacinthus how to throw the discus, when the insanely jealous Zephyrus caught it in mid-air and blew it at Hyacinthus, striking the young man on the head and killing him. From his blood sprang the hyacinth flower. …(read more)

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