Yeah, yeah, it’s the same old story…

"I bought
an orchid at the grocery store," he said. "Then I must have blacked out
for a time because I suddenly had several dozen."

Interview with another victim of orchid fever. I wish I had a greenhouse…. sigh…

Full Article

Gardener’s thumb is green year round

By Alysa Phillips, assistant editor
Easter Arizona Courier

Prior to turning his computer room into a greenhouse of sorts, Norman Lanquist had no gardening experience.

best I’d done until now was put an avocado seed in a glass of water,"
he said. "It got to be about a foot tall, then it died."

Lanquist is the proud father of dozens of little green children that
live in a greenhouse inside his Safford home. His gardening career is
three years strong, and Lanquist discovered his green thumb in the
unlikely location of his library, which he was cleaning after he
retired from Eastern Arizona College.

was sorting through my books, and I found a lot of magazines," he said.
"I realized that most of them were interior decorating or home and
garden magazines."

of those magazines portrayed gardens and designs with orchids in them,
Lanquist said, so he started his own garden of the same variety.

bought an orchid at the grocery store," he said. "Then I must have
blacked out for a time because I suddenly had several dozen."

to Lanquist, it takes seven elements to have happy, healthy plants. The
obvious elements are sunlight, earth, water and air. Lanquist adds
warmth, movement and stewardship. In addition to providing his plants
with the essentials, Lanquist goes the extra mile in caring for them.

has a space heater in the greenhouse that keeps the plants at a
near-constant temperature. He also has fans and specially-designed pots
that allow movement of air and water around the plants. He keeps the
temperature at 73 degrees with 56-percent humidity, and a light
automatically comes on every morning to simulate sunshine. A radio is
continually tuned to classical music, serenading the plants as they

Perhaps the most important of  the elements is stewardship, Lanquist said.

"When the plants become your children, they give their trust to you," he said.

of being a good steward is doing research, which includes studying the
natural habitat of the plants and trying to replicate it. To Lanquist,
this means hanging his orchids from the ceiling and letting them grow
the same way they would if they were in trees, living on rainwater and

Lanquist even goes as far as naming his plants. Among his orchids he
has Mr. Impossible, Cathy and Elizabeth. Mr. Impossible grows
upside-down, with his blossom emerging from the bottom of the pot and
the roots shooting skyward.

gets his gardening education from magazines, books and frequent visits
to other gardeners’ greenhouses. He buys his plants from grocery stores
or from other gardeners. Many of the more expensive plants are shipped
to him from across the world, adding to the exotic nature of his indoor
garden. Besides orchids, he has pitcher plants, a bat plant (black
flowers), lilies, amaryllis, lucky bamboo, bromeliads, Mexican fruit
trees and pineapple.

future plans include growing (or attempting to grow) more exotic
orchids like the voodoo, vampire and cobra varieties, Himalayan Blue
poppies and the black lily of Palestine.

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