Santa Barbara Blooms: Orchid Extravaganza

Buyers, experts, and beginners gather to savor the sophisticated flowers.

WHAT'S IN THE MOVIE WINDOW: Set designers know what's what when it comes to fancying up a cinematic street scene. If you want your meet-cute characters to pass along some interesting, camera-ready shops, you'll add a store selling vintage vinyl, a colorful old tavern or pub, and some sort of flower seller. If there are flowers in the window of your fictional store, chances are promising that the petals are of the dramatic variety. Think vanda orchids and encyclia orchids and odontoglossum orchids and every flower type that boasts an unusual shape and storied history. This isn't to say that other flowers aren't rare or exotic or hard-to-find or eye-catching, because hundreds can compete for this title (even the ubiquitous carnation has been undersold here, since its frilly edges do enchant). But orchids still have that enigmatic air, the air of a reclusive and alluring movie star, hence their appearance in shop windows when something floral and striking is required. Now imagine the number of blooms in a small shop window multiplied by thousands, and you've got a famous flower show that's been around for 70 years. It's the Santa Barbara International Orchid Show, and it shall spread its petals at the Earl Warren Showgrounds from March 13 through 15.

BEGINNERS WELCOME: One of the most important things to note about this long-running expo is that people just starting out with orchid ownership are most welcome. While orchids might seem dainty and hard-to-tend, lovers of the not-so-fussy flora want the curious to come by and give that first orchid a try. For sure, like all things, orchids run the gamut, so experts will be on hand, and growers, and there shall be "(f)abulous displays of exotic orchid species and hybrids installed by exhibitors from around the world." Free workshops are part of the three-day orchid extravaganza -- orchidanza, is perhaps the better word -- and a corsage exhibition. Plus more, which, really, one wants when it comes to the luscious and mysterious orchid, in all of its hues and spidery, extravagant shapes and forms. There is an admission fee to get in, but for sure bring extra funds: Orchids are for sale. This is your chance to start a lifelong floral friendship with the most cinematic of flowers.

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