- Published on Sunday, June 29 2014 07:05
- Written by Alexandra Martin
I took a quick weekend trip up to Santa Barbara, Calif., recently, and when looking for things to do before I left, I found a place on Tripadvisor called the Santa Barbara Orchid Estate. It's not a garden - it's a store. But with a 4.5 rating on both Tripadvisor and Yelp, I decided to check it out. How could I resist? Reviews said things like the Santa Barbara Orchid Estate "will blow your mind" and "I have never ever seen so many orchids in one place in my life!"
Because I've been to many an orchid and garden show, I figured that this store couldn't top these past events. Boy, was I wrong! It was the most amazing collections of orchids I've ever seen, and I also had never seen so many orchids in one place in my life!
Established in 1957, the Santa Barbara Orchid Estate is on 5 acres of coastal Santa Barbara landscape. When driving there, you pass a horse ranch, several commercial farmers and residential houses. We took a left onto Orchid Drive and went up a dirt driveway toward a greenhouse. But there wasn't just the one greenhouse! There were several connected greenhouses, in addition to outdoor growing areas. After chatting for a few minutes with a friendly employee, we began navigating the labyrinth of orchid plants. We went in the early morning, so the warm, humid air was comfortable, but I suspect the heat isn't so appealing later in the day. The orchids in bloom let off sweet smells even though it was early, and I had to stop by each flower and breathe it all in!
Here are some of the sighs from my visit to the Santa Barbara Orchid Estate:
Every year Santa Barbara is home to the huge Santa Barbara International Orchid Show (the oldest and one of the largest shows in the United States), and this central Californian city is one of the country's top orchid producers. If you're in town in mid-March next year, stop by for the 70th annual Santa Barbara International Orchid Show at the Earl Warren Showgrounds and make sure to visit the Santa Barbara Orchid Estate!
Alexandra is a professional writer from Southern California who grows vegetables, herbs, lots of aloe vera and one giant Boston fern in her balcony garden. She also grows dracaena, pothos and English ivy indoors. She loves traveling and birdwatching in addition to gardening.