Most orchid hobbyists get familiar with Carter
& Holmes via their clonal names ‘Mendenhall’ and ‘Newberry’
long before they realize there’s a company behind the name.
These clonals are appended to the names of many fine examples
or orchid breeding. Even a brief review of orchid literature
always includes mention of a ‘Mendenhall’ or other C&H
plant. The company, located in South Carolina, has a long
history equal to any in orchid history.
Bill Carter and Owen Holmes began selling orchids as cut
flowers in the years following World War II when corsage
flowers were in great demand for Valentine's Day, Easter, and
Mother's Day. As lifestyles became less formal in the 1960's
and the demand for cut flowers decreased, Carter & Holmes
began producing orchids for home growing. They started
hybridizing orchids in the 1950's and developed their own
modern laboratory for seed and tissue culture in the 1970's.
This hybridizing program has resulted in worldwide recognition
for Carter & Holmes as a source for outstanding orchids -
in particular, art-shade cattleyas. Today, Carter & Holmes
ships orchid plants of many genera to hobbyists and commercial
growers throughout the United States and to many countries
around the world.
Gene Crocker is currently Vice President of Carter &
Holmes Orchids, a position he has held for the past 17 years.
He is responsible for the general orchid production, including
the hybridizing program. He also writes the catalogues,
advertisements and does the photography. Gene was a hobby
grower for thirty years before coming to Carter and Holmes. He
still has his first two orchids (cattleyas), which have
flowered faithfully every year for the past 43 years. Gene’s
professional training was as a textile chemist (BS) and
Meteorologist (BS), but orchids have been his main obsession through these many years. He and his wife, Kitty, have one
daughter and two sons – and two grandsons. Gene travels
extensively on behalf of Carter & Holmes. He is interested
in all genera of orchids, although cattleyas are his favorites.
He made his first cattleya hybrid in 1961, and has already gone
through three generations of orchid hybrids at Carter &
Holmes. His "orchid claim to fame" may