“I was born August 2, 1946 in the city of Berkeley, California and have remained a resident ever since. I met my partner, John Leathers in 1975 and we began growing orchids after we purchased a home with a built on solarium. In 1979 we bought our present home and built a 15′ x 25′ standalone glass greenhouse.

Greenhouse at Pacifica

As our avocation expanded we rented additional greenhouse space in Daly City sharing it with other orchid friends. For the 15 or so years we’ve rented space in Pacifica, California. We currently grow in a 3000 sq. ft greenhouse and hybridize orchids. John and I do our own lab work, pod to blooming plant; have a well equipped lab in our home.

We both had careers at UC Berkeley. John retired as manager of Printing Services, an operation that printed for all nine campuses and I retired as manager for facilities and equipment of the Marvell Microfabrication Laboratory, a shared semiconductor research facility meeting needs for more than 400 researchers.

We specialize in cool growing Andean orchid species, John in the genus Dracula and Masdevallia and I in Odontoglossums.Our goal is to improve plants in these genera, share them with others and do our best to maintain the interest in hobby orchid growing given, as with many hobbies, a “greying” of participants. We now see our collection and work mostly as a preservation effort.


In addition to orchids I play classical piano. We are both avid art collectors – yet another of our bottomless money pits and John is the editor of The International Odontoglossum Alliance newsletter published in both Spanish and English with a readership of more than 180 subscribers.

My talk begins with the discovery of nature at the beginning of the 19th Century, an age of invention and the tremendous social changes which that century begot. The Victorian orchid craze was one result. The momentum and enthusiasm for orchid raising went on for most of the next 100 years. We have entered an age where hobbies are graying, competing with social media for time. Property values are high, building codes interfere with construction of greenhouses and big-box stores sell orchid plants below cost as “price leader” thus destroying small businesses. Inept interference by the Royal Horticultural Society and a failure of leadership by the American Orchid Society have created an embargo on how plants travel. The future of the orchid hobby is bleak.”


The Plant Table will be supplied by Bob Hamilton and John Leathers

Dinner with the Speaker at 5:30 p.m. is at Aung MayLika 1050 Contra Costa Blvd, Concord, CA 94423

Everyone is welcome to attend and meet our speaker – email Betty at kauwonn@gmail.com to reserve a seat.