Often called the “American Riviera”, Santa Barbara has an ideal climate for growing orchids. In fact Santa Barbara now produces more orchids then any other region in the country.
Exotic orchids soon became popular and were heavily planted in the Montecito and Hope Ranch estates. After World War II the oil baron Samuel Mosher spent 1.5 million on breeding orchids at his Dos Pueblos Orchid Company. His breeding grounds provided young plants for other growers who would often times pay up to tens of thousands of dollars for rare varieties. Today the prices have dramatically dropped due to the cloning of many orchids and various laboratory techniques.
Every year Santa Barbara hosts the International Orchid Show at the Earl Warren Showgrounds located at the intersection of the 101 freeway and Las Positas Road. Many orchid dealers come to this show both domestically and internationally. Some local nurseries that are usually not open to the public exhibit their orchids and are open to the public for tours of their greenhouses.
You will be amazed to see the large number and variety of orchids displayed. People come from all over the world to see the diversity on display and showcase their own orchids. The main pavilion houses seemingly thousands of orchids both from private and public growers. These are judged and then awarded prizes.
During our last show we overheard one gentleman discussing his ownership of more then 4000 orchids. He said that he only bought three orchids at this particular show. Like any other passion it can border on obsession 🙂 Prices at the show range from 10 to over 100 dollars, with most orchids in the range of 15 to 45 dollars. Orchids were originally introduced to Santa Barbara around the early 1900’s when wealthy industrialists came to enjoy the spa resorts. Many of these people fell in love with the climate (its not hard to do) and they commissioned world class horticulturists to plant orchids in their elaborate gardens.
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