March 15, 2011

Color My World

Lady Slipper Orchid
Years ago my grade school friend, Nancy, who also grew up to be a gardener, turned me on to a simple but brilliant idea to get through winter in the Chicagoland area.  Every year at that time she goes somewhere to just "smell soil."  I have made that a part of my winter routine and the benefits are immediate.  From making a trek to the old Jamaican Gardens with it's waterfall surrounded by tropical plants, to just popping into the local plant rental place while running errands, that quick fix really does the soul good.

So I suggested a field trip that would give us those wonderful feelings gained from the smell of fresh soil, the feeling of humidity, and a burst of color.  We went to Orchids By Hausermann in Villa Park. They are famous for their orchid choices and expertise.  Nancy is a regular, but I had never been.  

Hausermann's has several greenhouses full of orchids categorized by species, and a nice selection of sale plants too.  Since we were in between their two open house weekends, they even had an extra greenhouse open with a gorgeous display of varied orchid species.  It reminded me of a Flower & Garden Show display. All throughout there are lovely vignettes with orchids surrounding fountains and garden sculpture.

Open House Display
Not surprisingly, I adopted two orchids to bring home.  Each are Phalaenopsis which is the easiest of the species to grow in your home.  They do not want too much water and they can take our sometimes cooler indoor winter temperatures well.  And they reward you with months of graceful blooms.  A great selection of complementary pots made it fun to pick and choose.  And the salesperson added Spanish Moss and even shined up the foliage for me. 

I asked the gentleman about the connection I had heard of between vanilla and orchids. He told us vanilla comes from a vining orchid called Vanilla planifolia, and kindly pulled one of the plants for us to see.  It is an average looking green vine and will need to grow for a few years before it will bloom.  The flowers have to be hand pollinated to produce vanilla beans.  Now I understand why vanilla can be so costly.

I highly recommend this store for a quick education in orchids, and a wonderful walk through rows of beautiful and sometimes scented specimens. And a bit of fantasy.  Certainly we can all use that during our often dreary Chicago winters.


  1. I've never been there but after looking at these pictures I'm going to have to make the trek!

  2. Hi mrbrownthumb.
    It is like paradise for a Chicagoan in winter. The plants are very nicely organized and displayed too. Worth the trip for sure.