Until recently, most Americans had never heard of Wilmington, Delaware. The state, itself, is tiny and bears the nickname, “Small Wonder”. My parents have lived there since 1960, growing orchids in their redwood greenhouses and raising a family.
The orchid industry, today, is on full throttle and commercial nurseries everywhere are having their best year in recent memory and possibly ever. There is a nationwide shortage of plants as retailers are having trouble getting product and many wholesalers are simply sold out. The last time there was a run on orchids to this extent was eighty years ago, during the corsage era.
“Re-enactors portrayed President Woodrow Wilson and his wife, Edith, at the signing of the Armistice on Veteran’s Day. The stunning five-flowered cattleya orchid corsage was in keeping with the First Lady’s style at high profile events.” Photo Credit – Suzanne Feigley/Virginia War Memorial
THE GREAT CATTLEYA SPECIES OF THE CUT-FLOWER ERA
Having won the greatest war of the 20th century, President Dwight Eisenhower in 1953 ushered in 8 years of calm and stability not seen in the United States for 50 years and, in the process, opened the Golden Age of Cattleya Orchids. First Lady Mamie Eisenhower was the symbol of prosperity and elegance and she loved cattleyas. She was rarely seen in public without her corsage of 2 or 3 cattleya flowers during her husband’s entire two terms.
John F. Kennedy was only 43 years old in 1960 when he became President of the United States, and he introduced a feeling of youth and excitement into the White House. His two young children were always underfoot and his young wife, Jacqueline, age 31, was a fashion statement not only in this country but overseas as well. Kennedy’s administration became known as
Camelot – the mythical realm of King Arthur’s famous Round Table and both Republicans and Democrats embraced his policies. He gave America a new aura of greatness when he announced that he would send astronauts to the moon.
An intimate look back at the Queen of Fashion
A young man, barely 16 years old, stood in the vestibule of Edith Myers large stone residence on Spring Avenue when I arrived to see her orchids. The vestibule was piled high with large white boxes - each containing a corsage of a Cattleya mossiae flower. A few boxes even had corsages with two flowers.
Cattleyas Go Hollywood!
By A.A. Chadwick and Arthur E. Chadwick
The 1930’s was a challenging time for the United States. Gone were the days of Bathtub Gin and the extravagances of The Roaring Twenties. The Great Depression left banks insolvent, businesses bankrupt, and millions of Americans without a job. Politicians could only hope that some new government program might ease the suffering and put people back to work. It was of utmost importance that elected officials appear modest and frugal.