Past Speakers

The Oregon Orchid Society has been privileged to host numerous speakers with varied backgrounds. Here’s a partial list of past speakers:

Rick Burian
Orchid enthusiast Rick Burian is a long-time member of the Oregon Orchid Society and a contributor to Orchids magazine. His extensive travels have taken him to every continent on which orchids grow (which, by the way, is every continent except Antarctica). While his greenhouse is stocked with many epiphytes, he has an extensive knowledge of terrestrial orchids around the world and a keen emphasis on preservation of native orchids in the wild. Rick is a member and active participant in the Native Orchid Conference, an international conference on native orchid conservation and habitat restoration. If you are interested in where to find native Oregon orchids growing naturally, Rick is a great resource.

Ron Burch
Specializing in hardy orchids, Ron Burch, proprietor of Gardens at Post Hill, shared the “ins and outs” of growing orchids in your garden along with an overview of the genus Cypripedium. Gardens at Post Hill is a premier supplier of these hardy orchids that add incredible beauty to your garden – including an Oregon native: Cypripedium californicum.

Eric Christensen
Eric ChristensenA world renowned research taxonomist and orchid-lover, Dr. Eric Christensen had given much to the orchid world. His field work extended throughout vast areas of South America and he had worked closely with David Bennett of Lima, Peru to produce an inventory of Peruvian orchids. This study has produced over 100 new species discoveries. He was a prolific author with over 300 publications to his credit and was known for aiming to bridge the gap between taxonomy and horticulture and is a strong advocate for conservation – including ex situ conservation. We were honored to have Dr. Christensen, who died in April of 2011, as a friend of the Oregon Orchid Society.

Ellen Covey
The owner and founder of Olympic Orchids, Dr. Ellen Covey specializes in growing interesting orchids from seedling or flask. Her talk on growing from flask/seeding was incredibly informative and very engaging.

Her family-owned business is based in the Seattle area and sells many hard-to-find orchids. In fact her service Orchid Finders will help you find “any orchid plant” at the best price possible. The selection of orchids she brought to our meeting for sale was full of interesting and rare species.

Gene Crocker
20 years the Vice President of Carter and Holmes Orchids of Newberry, SC, Gene Crocker has more experience in the field of orchid hybridization than most orchid growers alive today. His inspiring life story of being taken under the auspices of Bill Carter and his orchid hybridizing program that he started in the 1950’s was the springboard for his discussion on the hybridization of Cattleyas. He spoke to us on the details of the hybridizing process as well as the parentage of well-known Cattleya hybrids.

Gene has professional training as a Textile Chemist and Meteorologist, but orchids have been his central passion for over 50 years. His first successful Cattleya hybrid (Cattleyas are his favorite, but he grows many other genera) was in 1961. He is the coiner of the phrase “mericlone” – which he coined in 1964.

Alfonso Doucette
Alfonzo DoucetteAlfonso Doucette is currently in one of the only orchid-centric doctorate programs in the country at the University of Minnesota. His presentation covered his expertise on the growing of Draculas and Masdevallias in a home environment including a demonstration of how to build an affordable do-it-yourself orchidarium.

Alfonso is interested in orchid taxonomy and cultivation. He is especially interested in orchids of the subtribe Pleurothallidinae and is most interested in its genera Porroglossum and Masdevallia.

Tom Etheridge
AOS accredited judge, Tom Etheridge is highly involved with the Pacific Northwest Judging Center. He is a frequent contributor to Orchids magazine on judging matters. He primarily grows Odontoglossums but has experience in growing many genera.

Jason Fischer
Jason FischerJason Fischer, of Orchids Limitedin Minnesota (aka, is a highly regarded grower of high-quality orchids. His business has kept a vast catalog since 1978. His discussion with our society was on an Eastern approach to growing Japanese orchids.

Jason has lived and taught English in Japan. Once he returned back to work with his father’s orchid business he decided to bring native Japanese orchids into the business. These are a fascinating group of orchids, and have been highly admired for centuries. Jason is a lively speaker and provided an engaging and fun presentation for all.


Ernie Gemeinhart
Ernie GemeinhartIndoor grower Ernie Gemeinhart of Enlighened Orchidsis an expert in growing orchids under lights. While his specialty is paphiopedilums, his is an avid grower of many orchid species and hybrids. A native of Pittsburgh, Ernie has dual Bachelor of Science degrees in Marine Biology and Aquaculture from the Florida Institute of Technology. His graduate studies were at the George Washington University and National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC in the area of ichthyological physiology and evolutionary biology. His vast experience in growing orchids, along with his educational experience, has given him insight into the biological requirements of orchids.

His discussion on growing orchids under lights was very insightful for indoor growers and greenhouse growers alike.

Joe Greienauer
Joe GreinauerJoe’s Seattle orchid business, Emerald City Orchids,  is multifaceted, perhaps with the most unique component being their orchid coffeehouse – a place to celebrate (and possibly buy) beautiful orchids while sipping on a latte or a glass of local Washington wine.

Joe is truly “into” all things orchid. With a keen fascination of the history of the orchid, Joe has many prepared presentations that both entertain and enlighten.

The best way to keep up with what is happening at Emerald City Orchids is via their Facebook page.

Ron Hanko
An accomplished photographer and writer, Ron Hanko has been published in the American Orchid Society’s Orchids magazine numerous times and has even held the honor of donning the cover of the magazine with his orchid photos. He is also an avid hiker and explorer with a vast knowledge of our native orchids in the Pacific Northwest.

Patricia A. Harding
Patricia Harding holds degrees in botany and medicine. Her expertise in orchid taxonomy has led to her publication of several books including “The Debatable Epidendrums” and “Huntleyas and Related Orchids”. Her research created the Prosthecia genus among many other commonly accepted genera. Her extensive travels and research has given the orchid world an entirely new perspective on many orchid genera. She is also an accredited judge of the American Orchid Society.

Her most recent talk discussed the current trends in orchid taxonomy (sound boring? It was actually very engaging).

Norito Hasegawa
Dr. Norito Hasegawa has been collecting and growing orchids for over 30 years. Partnering with Harold Koopowitz he founded Paphanatics, Unlimited, which has specialized in Phaphiopedilums since 1975. Norito’s involvement in the orchid world has been as a hobbyist, author, and commercial grower. He even had an entire genus (Hasegawara) named after him!

Norito is co-author, with Harold Koopowitz, of the book “Novelty Slipper Orchids”. He is also a former trustee of The American Orchid Society and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Orchid Digest Corporation.

Theresa Hill
Hillsview Gardens owner Theresa Hill grows award-winning Miltoniopsis, Masdevallias and complex Paphiopedilums. She has received over 100 AOS awards including two FCCs, a Gold Certificate Display, multiple Awards of Quality and a bronze award at the 16th annual World Orchid Conference in Vancouver, BC. She is also a long time member of the Oregon Orchid Society.

Eric Hunt
Eric’s first and continuing passion is orchids and their photography. He has served as Vice President of the San Francisco Orchid Society and both Vice President and Immediate Past President for Orchid Mania in San Francisco. He is one of the official American Orchid Society Awards photographers for the Pacific Central Judging Region.

Eric visited Borneo, the world’s third largest island, in March 2007 and visited a wide variety of orchid habitats, from the lowland dipterocarp rainforests of Mulu to the montane cloud forests of Mount Kinabalu. His presentation will be a rich visual tapestry of orchids, flowers, carnivorous plants, forests, rivers, markets, and even some urban scenes.

Eric’s photography has appeared in Orchids, The Orchid Digest, The Orchid Review, Orkideer (magazine of Swedish Orchid Society), Pollinia (magazine of the Irish Orchid Society), Gardener’s World Magazine (UK), California Home and Design, and The San Francisco Chronicle. Recent books using his work include 300 Orchids, Miracle Gro Complete Guide to Orchids, Orchid Species of Peru, The Illustrated Dictionary of orchid Genera, and Huntleyas and Related Orchids.

Peter Lin
Peter LinPeter started growing orchids over 25 years ago, but then stopped due to school and starting a career.  It wasn’t until about 7 years ago that the orchid “bug” came back and he is now heavily involved once again!  He is currently a probationary judge with the American Orchid Society, and a hybridizer of mini-catts.  He enjoys meeting with other Orchid enthusiasts, and can often be found at various Orchid shows and societies around the country.

Due to limited growing space, Peter likes to specialize in miniature orchids, both species and hybrids, and has received numerous AOS awards. His other interests in Orchids include Dendrobiums, Angraecoids, and Neofinetias. He maintains a collection of a thousand or more orchids at his home in Southern California in 3 small greenhouses, as well as indoors.

You can read more about Peter on his website: Diamond Orchids.

Francisco Miranda
Francisco Miranda may well be the most experienced expert in Brazilian Cattleya species outside of Brazil.  Hailing from Florida, Francisco is the owner of Miranda Orchids, a supplier of high-quality Brazilian Cattleyas and other orchids.  His presentations are engaging and contain a wealth of fascinating stories from his orchid quests in the different regions of Brazil.

David Morris
David has served as the president of the Oregon Orchid Society and is an AOS accredited judge of many years. In fact, David was one of the youngest judges in AOS history. His enthusiasm for orchid growing is hard to miss and his knowledge on the subject is vast. His business, Clackamas Orchids, specializes in a wide variety of species orchids including Draculas and other Pleurothallids.

Andrea Niessen
Andrea NissenAndrea came all the way from Columbia to share with our society. She is the owner of Orquídeas del Valle, a provider of high-quality South American plants including a wide variety of Pleurothallids. Her talk to the Oregon Orchid Society offered a look at the Pleurothallis alliance and the different climes in which they grow in Columbia.

Brenda Oviatt
With her husband, Bill, Brenda Oviatt is the proprietor of Botanica Ltd., a business that grows and sells orchid species from Africa. African orchids are not as commonly grown as their South American or Southeast Asian counterparts – and their native habitat is seriously endangered.

Brenda shared with us the current state of affairs in Madagascar. Madagascar houses Africa’s most unique and concentrated selection of orchids – but it is also the most threatened region on the continent. Many orchid species are no longer found in the wild. Brenda is a strong proponent of both in situ and ex situ conservation in Africa.

Holger Perner
Holger PernerHolger Perner and his wife Wenqing founded Hengduan Mountains Biotechnology Ltd. in 1999. Initially a conservation effort in the Hengduan Mountain region in China, it developed into an ex situ orchid propagation effort and full-fledged orchid business. Thanks to Hengduan Mountains Biotech, many previously unavailable orchid species from China are now being legally propagated and distributed in the US.

Ivan Portilla
Ivan Portilla of Ecuagenera OrchidsIvan is the owner of Ecuagenera, grower and exporter of South American orchids. Located in Cuenca, Ecuador at 8,200 feet above sea level, their growing operation includes one of the largest selections of orchids available – including many cool-growing species. Their reserves consist of two huge tracts of high mountain jungle, one somewhat lower in elevation than the other – offering two distinctly different growing habitats. Their efforts with in situ orchid conservation has also blossomed into an eco-tourist business.  Ecuagenera is a regular participant in our annual show and sale.

Merle Reinikka
Merle is the author of A History of the Orchid, a comprehensive overview of the people that shaped the orchid hobby and industry as we know it today. Over a period of years he carefully sorted through archival materials, cross-referenced bibliographies and studied early herbals, journals, periodicals, pamphlets and papers at the Botanical Museum of Harvard University to produce the book that is a must-have for orchidists. He is also a former editor for the AOS Orchids magazine.

Nina Rach
Nina is an accredited AOS judge hailing from Houston, Texas.  She is a national and international speaker having lectured at the US Botanic Garden in Washington DC, the National Fauna Preservation Society in Blantyre, Malawi, Guatemalan Orchid Association in Guatemala City, Guatemala, 19th World Orchid Conference in Miami, Florida, the 2004 Mid-America Orchid Congress in Nashville, Tennessee, the 7th IBTA Conference in Kingston, Ontario, the 16th World Orchid Conference in Vancouver, BC and many dozens of orchid societies from the east to west coasts.  She is the creator and webmaster of the Stanhopea and Sobralia Pages.

Luanne Rolley
Luanne Rolley is a chemist for Hewlett Packard and an award winning orchid grower with her husband, Tom Etheridge. Luanne’s talk was a fascinating exposition on the science of color in relation to orchids and orchid judging.

Marcia Romick
A probationary level student in the Pacific NW Judging District, Marcia Romick is an orchid grower of nearly 20 years. She presented an intriguing presentation of her recent trip to the Cali, Columbia International Orchid Show. This included a survey of many local growers to that region of Columbia based on her trips to their greenhouses.

James Rose
Jim Rose - Cal OrchidsIn the early 1970’s the James and Lauris Rose began their orchid careers in the commercial realm, and eventually purchased their own nursery, Cal Orchid, in 1987.  This nursery, located in Santa Barbara, California, has grown to 25,000 square feet of intermediate temperature controlled greenhouse as well as an additional 25,000  square feet of saran-covered shade area.  The Roses have always been active in the orchid world, travelling for shows, sales, or lecturing. Whenever possible, they are generous with their time, personally visiting with customers about orchid culture.  James’ presentation was on the Lycaste orchids, a group he has become particularly fascinated with.

Bill Thoms
Bill ThomsBill Thoms has been growing orchids along with his wife, Doris Dukes, for over 35 years in the Central Florida region. They have won more AOS awards for culture than most anyone else in the world. Their 62 awards have been in over 20 genera, mostly in the Bulbophyllum alliance. Their highest award was a 95 point Certificate of Cultural Excellence (CCE) for Cirr. rothschildianum ‘A-doribil’ FCC/AOS.

One of their Miltoniopsis was the first orchid to receive a CCE for a score above 90 points. This was an especially impressive feat considering the difficulty of growing Miltoniopsis in Tampa, Florida. In recent years they have received four FCCs as well as every other award given by the AOS. His FCCs include Cirrhopetalums, Paphiopedilums and Phragmipediums. His cultural awards and his non-cultural awards total over 200 in number. He has even received an award of distinction – a very high honor for a hybridizer.

Bill spoke on how to grow specimen-sized orchids. His mantra of “more water longer” has stuck with many of us.

Sam Tsui
Founder and owner of Orchid Inn, Ltd., Sam Tsui has been breeding and hybridizing orchids for over 20 years.  His high-quality slipper orchids have given him international recognition with over a hundred American Orchid Society, Cymbidium Society of America and European Orchid Congress awards.  His most prestigious awards include seven FCC/AOS awards, a 93 points CCE/AOS award, and six AQ/AOS awards.

Marni Turkel
Marni bills herself as a hobbyist orchid grower since her actual business is pottery. But as an orchid grower since 1980 (currently growing “thousands” of orchids) and an active member of the San Francisco Orchid Society since 1982. She specializes in, but isn’t limited to, cool growing species from many genera. She has been a contributor to Orchids Magazine, Orchid Digest, Richardiana, The Orchid Review and The Australian Orchid Review.

Dick Van Ingen
Dick Van IngenDick has served the Oregon Orchid Society for many years now – with various volunteer and board positions, including president.  His talks are always engaging and full of intriguing photos.  He is a long-time orchid and tropical plant grower, an avid world traveler and a skilled potter. With a background in engineering and urban planning, he is always thinking outside the box – trying to discover how orchids can be grown better.

Craig Williams
Craig Williams has been an active member of both the Seattle and Oregon Orchid Societies.  He is a probationary level student in the Pacific NW Judging District and an avid orchid grower.  He grows indoors and under lights, offering a knowledgeable perspective on growing in the home.