PRESS RELEASE / ANNOUNCEMENTS Thursday, December 4, 2014

Santa Barbara International Orchid Show Celebrates 70th Year and Central Coast as a Haven for War-Torn Orchid Species During WWII

Orchid Showcase to Take Place at Earl Warren Showgrounds March 13-15, 2015

SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA — A crown jewel of international flower showcases, the Santa Barbara International Orchid Show (, will be coloring the scene of Earl Warren Showgrounds with the rarest, most magnificent orchid specimens from all over the world on March 13-15, 2015. The impressive exhibit — one of the oldest and largest in the United States — celebrates its 70th year as not only a display of the finest orchids, but also as a testament to Santa Barbara’s role as an historical haven for many phenomenal orchid varieties that would have otherwise disappeared into war-torn history.

Orchids first arrived to the mild, Mediterranean-like climate of Santa Barbara at the turn of the 20th century. Many wealthy industrialists, escaping from the harsh eastern winters to retreat at Santa Barbara’s flourishing spas, ended up settling in the area and employing expert horticulturists to build out elaborate gardens on their estates. At the time, exotic orchids became the rage, and mass plantings of cymbidiums and other unusual species flourished amid luxurious properties in such locales as Montecito and Hope Ranch.

By the time World War II burst onto the scene, England was the leader in growing and hybridizing jungle-sourced orchids. But even these unassuming, neutral plants weren’t safe from the destructive bombings and fuel shortages that wreaked havoc on the region.

It was a handful orchid enthusiasts such as Santa Barbara’s Elliot Rogers, local cymbidium grower and manager of the Santa Barbara Orchid Show, and Samuel B. Mosher, professional agriculturalist and fortunate oil tycoon, whose love for the rare flowers helped lead to their enduring preservation to this day. After purchasing and importing a number of fine cymbidium collections from English orchid owners threatened by the war, Rogers and Mosher then began hybridizing them in California.

It turns out that as an unintended consequence of World War II, the center of the orchid world shifted to America. In fact, when cymbidium fever swept the nation, it was one of Rogers’ varieties, Cymbidium Carisona ‘Glendessary’, that parented the popular Cymbidium Lillian Stewart line of orchids.

Santa Barbara’s temperate climate, with mild nights and gentle ocean breezes, provided the perfect setting for orchids to flourish. Nestled on a narrow plain between the rugged Santa Ynez mountains and the tranquil Pacific Ocean, Santa Barbara naturally gave rise to a healthy orchid industry that now produces more orchids than any other region in the country.

Since debuting as a premier showcase for the area’s orchid lovers and connoisseurs in 1945, the Santa Barbara International Orchid Show has played host to some of the finest orchids in the world. At its 70th anniversary event in 2015, visitors can expect to be wowed by lavish garden displays, artistic floral arrangements, and meticulously designed corsages.

For those wishing to bring home a stunning souvenir from the show, vendors offer blooming orchid plants, growing supplies, and winsome orchid-inspired art for. Visitors may also enjoy educational culture demonstrations during the show in order to learn about growing their own orchids.

No matter what kind of memento visitors take away from the show, it’s sure to inspire a sense of celebration for the legacy of beauty that Santa Barbara helped to carry on at such a pivotal time in both the history of orchids and, ultimately, the modern world.

For press passes, interview opportunities, media materials, or further information, please contact Nora Miller, Anderson Miller PR, (805) 403-1625 or or for fact sheet, high res images, past press releases, please visit the Press Room


Organization Contact:
George Hatfield
Board President
Santa Barbara International Orchid Sho
Leigh-Anne Anderson
Anderson Miller Pr
(310) 990 5752
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