“What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”…or so the popular slogan reads. But if you time your visit just right, you can take home a piece of Sin City for the price of a white poker chip. The first Sunday of each month, the local orchid society meets to discuss their favorite subject as well as to sell mature orchid plants for $1.
It all started when a society member inquired about the fate of the thousands of blooming orchids which are used as centerpieces each week at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The enormous facility, which hosts over 5 million visitors each year, decorates their meeting rooms with various plants, including orchids. When the business seminars end, the centerpieces are usually thrown away just in time for the next convention.
Upon hearing the sad plight of the orchid centerpieces, the Greater Las Vegas Orchid Society stepped in and now sells the leftover plants at their monthly meetings. Anyone with an interest in orchids is invited – members, guests, and visitors. There is no limit to the number of plants which can be purchased and all proceeds benefit the non-profit organization. The 100+ group meets the first Sunday of each month and attendees are treated to a live jazzy piano ‘cocktail hour’ and pot luck luncheon prior to having their featured speaker. Directions to the meeting are provided on their website,www.glvos.org.
The Las Vegas, Nevada climate is desert-like and fiercely inhospitable to rainforest flora, like orchids, yet, somehow, residents have been able to grow their prized plants successfully. Hobbyists have set up microclimates within their houses which provide orchids with the proper conditions. Evaporative coolers, humidifiers, and misters are used almost daily. Orchids can take high temperatures as long as the roots are kept wet and the leaves have plenty of air circulation.
Intense heat, low humidity and scarce rainfall are challenges for everyone in this part of the country. Few people have grass in their yards. Crushed rocks are the norm and outdoor plants and trees are drought tolerant. Unbelievably, there are three naturally occurring orchid species which grow in the area – all in the high elevations of the surrounding mountains – an Epipactis and two Habenarias - a testament to the adaptability of this highly evolved plant kingdom called orchids. The Greater Las Vegas Orchid Society takes regular field trips to see these native species during their blooming time.
Horticultural-minded tourists are given the typical Vegas-style over-the-top treatment at the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens – located next to Caesars Palace and right in the middle of casino-laden Las Vegas Boulevard – also known as ‘The Strip.’ Reminiscent of the stunning exhibits at the Philadelphia Flower Show, Bellagio offers breathtaking floral displays using gazebos, bridges, ponds, and water features which change with the seasons. The lobby of the hotel has an extensive “secret garden” behind the front desk and spectacular orchid arrangements can be found throughout the complex. Bellagio is open to the public 365 days a year and there is no charge for admission. www.bellagio.com