A Trip to the Waldor Islands


Walt Off (far right) guides a tour for PHS writer Betsie Blodgett (from left), Show Designer Sam Lemheney, and Shows Operations Manager Bob Felke.

Wandering through the seven greenhouses of Waldor Orchids in Linwood, N.J., marveling at these ethereal flowers that seem to float in air, it’s hard to comprehend how the grower is able to safely pack the delicate stems for shipment.

Walt Off assures a troupe of guests from PHS that packing isn’t the problem (use plenty of newspaper). Weather is. Extreme hot or cold can wreak havoc on a crate of orchids making its way across the country or around the world. But they almost all make it to their destinations in good health.

Much of his business is done via the company website, www.waldor.com, where collectors can browse through albums of blooms. Waldor also does brisk business on eBay. So the flowers must be hardy travelers.

Waldor orchid2Off imports orchids, as well, from every corner of the globe. There are some 30,000 different species, he explains, including 52 native to New Jersey alone. The July inventory of 28,000 plants at Waldor had examples from Brazil and Taiwan and a variety found in the Himalayas.

But the discussion on this mid-summer day focuses on Singapore. Waldor’s exhibit at the 2010 Philadelphia International Flower Show will recreate the look of the fantastic National Orchid Garden found in the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

The plans are still being drawn, but Off envisions an archway of orchids through which visitors arrive at a series of islands bursteing with tropical foliage,  an allee of trees, and an Waldor orchid1Asian temple, reflecting the formal Singapore style. Beneath the tall palms will be a stunning display of bright vanda orchids, which characterize the Singapore gardens, as well as dendrobium and other varieties.

Off’s son Dave has another idea that is taking root for the Flower Show, whose theme from Feb. 28 to March 7 will be “Passport to the World.” The central island of Waldor/Singapore may sprout an orchid tree! We’ll see what grows from that idea…

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