Many have said that collecting orchids is addictive. If this is true, then I would certainly qualify as a true orchid addict! I started collecting orchids over 30 years ago when I visited a nearby greenhouse and purchased several that were in bloom. After a few months, as those blooms were beginning to fade, I decided it would be nice to have something in bloom year round. Over the next year I visited many of the local greenhouses and purchased a variety of different orchids. As I gained experience growing them, I became most intrigued by the unique, sometimes bizarre, sometimes elegant, look of the lady slipper (Paphiopedilum) orchids. They are very easily grown in the home and come in a huge number of shapes and sizes. Paphs soon became the focus of my interest.
I had been officially bitten by the orchid bug! Within a year, I had an extensive collection growing under lights in my small apartment. In the following years I continued to add to my collection, consistently elevating the quality of my plants . In the early 1990’s, I built my own greenhouse and began a concerted breeding program focused on producing the highest quality complex, novelty and species paphs… and Marriott Orchids was born! In 1998, just before the birth of our son, my wife and I decided it was time to begin the orchid business as my full time career.
Now, well over 2 decades since purchasing my first plant, I am proud to be recognized as one of the top orchid breeders in the country, specializing in Paphiopedilums. Marriott Orchids has received over 250 awards from the American Orchid Society, including ten FCC’s (First Class Certificate’s). In the last few years, I have been fortunate to have had five crosses awarded an AQ – (Award of Quality). This award is designed to recognize hybridizing excellence in producing a cross of exceptional merit.
My “Holy Grail” in orchids was realized at the end of 2005 when I received a letter of congratulations from Lee Cooke, Executive Director of the American Orchid Society. In it he explained that a plant of my hybridizing, Winwine ‘Dark Spell’ FCC/AOS, had just been voted as the winner of two AOS “Special Awards”. The AOS Trustees had voted for it as the winner of both the W.W.Wilson Award and the Merritt W. Huntington Award, for 2004. The former award is for the most outstanding Cypripedioideae (slipper) awarded in that year. The latter award is for the most outstanding FCC awarded plant of any genus in the previous year. Words are not adequate to express my gratitude at being given these two awards. Now all I need is 48 more years to share life with my wife, and see my son grow up… and I can die a happy man!