By SAMUEL DICKEY | Metro Monthly Contributing Writer
Sure, it may look and feel like February out there, but the best way to take your mind off of the weather might just be to go to the Davis Education & Visitor Center at the Fellows Riverside Gardens at Mill Creek MetroParks. The fun kicks off with “The Jewels of Winter,” the fifth annual orchid show at the park. The show will run every day except Mondays from Sunday, Feb. 1 through Sunday, March 15 in the Davis Center. Admission is free. The variety of orchids will be impressive with approximately 200 different orchids that can be grown successfully at home.
More than a display, the orchid show will include programming of interest to gardeners. On Thursday, Feb. 5, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Dave Miller of the Greater Akron Orchid Society will give a lecture titled “Celebrating Your Orchid’s First Birthday.” Miller has been working as a volunteer with the MetroParks’ show and collections for the past four years. Admission is $10, and attendees are strongly encouraged to call in advance at 330-740-7116.
Orchid expert Jackie Land will host free walk-abouts at the Davis Center on Saturday, Feb. 7 from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and on Sunday, March 8 from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. She will discuss the culture and growing of the plants on display.
For the first time, there will be orchid clinics at this year’s festival. The first clinic will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 18 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors may bring their orchids, and Dave Miller and Jackie Land will be present to answer questions. Supplies such as pots will be available. A second clinic will take place on Tuesday, March 3 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Miller and Land will return for an orchid potting workshop on Thursday, March 12 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Visitors will receive an orchid and may purchase supplies. Regular admission will be $25, and admission for members of the Friends of Fellows Riverside Gardens will be $21.
Although the presence of orchid clinics and potting workshops may make it sound as if orchids are something only for the most skillful and talented horticulturists, orchids are actually found in pretty much any habitat other than glaciers. The word seems to be getting out. “Definitely more folks are taking an interest. Some people think that orchids are too hard to grow, but it is simple to take care of them once you learn how to take care of them, just as with other plants,” said Betty Molvin, a gardener for the MetroParks. She adds that orchids are epiphytic; in other words, they don’t need to kept in water or watered quite the same as some other plants do.
Molvin suggests that the growing popularity of orchids is due at least in part to the increasing availability of Phalaenopsis genus of orchids in a number of local home and garden stores. These flowers are perhaps better known as moth orchids.
Garden Café to see changes
Arlene Lanz, visitor services manager at the Davis Center, reports that some interesting changes are in store elsewhere in the building. Patricia Tinkler and Mitch Lynch, owners of Friends Specialty in downtown Youngstown, will take over the management of the Garden Café by mid-February. After some updating of the space, the grand reopening will come soon, and diners may look forward to the coffee and tea they have come to love at Friends Specialty, as well as an increasingly service-oriented atmosphere more than they might expect from a café, a sit-down environment with servers. There will be a shift to more local and organic items with seasonal foods and a farm-to-table menu. The Garden Café may be reached by telephone at 330-740-7074.
Gift shop to be cleaned and painted
The gift shop at the Davis Center will also be renovated and have a grand opening on Feb. 1. Cleaning and painting will go on, but the shop will stay open. Some items may be temporarily moved to tables in the hallway as work progresses, but there will be discounts of 25 to 50 percent on some merchandise. Lanz reports that there will be a heightened emphasis on garden and nature-themed items in the shop.
The Davis Education & Visitors Center at Fellows Riverside Gardens is located at 123 McKinley Ave. and may be reached at 330-740-7116. The garden is open daily throughout the year from dawn to dusk. The Davis Center is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Mondays.
Editor’s note for the purpose of full disclosure: Metro Monthly Publisher Mark C. Peyko collaborates with Friends Specialty owners Mitch Lynch and Patricia Tinkler on the “Homeplate” television show.
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