Gulf Coast Orchid Alliance hangs out its shingle at botanical garden sale

The newly formed Gulf Coast Orchid Alliance has found a big way to introduce its group: at the annual Naples Botanical Garden this weekend.

The alliance will have its first sale there from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

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The group of orchid enthusiasts from around Southwest Florida says its mission is to promote interest in orchids by appealing to members of the public who have never grown orchids or who are just learning to work with them.

"What makes us unique is our desire to reach out to the community to inspire others to share in our passion," said Robert Printz, president of the new group, in a statement. "We want to pass on our knowledge so that everyone can have fun with orchids.

"More people grow orchids in South Florida than anywhere else. We see a need to offer educational talks, workshops, and demonstrations to show how easy it is to grow, enjoy and conserve orchids.

"We are developing programs for every level of hobbyist, from beginner to advanced grower. Even kids will have fun with our program about unusual and odd-scented orchids. To encourage younger enthusiasts to get involved, we offer free membership to anyone under 18."

GCOA's booth at the Garden's event plaza will offer exotic and flowering orchids, and members will be on hand to give advice about orchid culture, care and conservation, and information on how to become a member.

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Sale proceeds will benefit GCOA's educational and community outreach projects.

The sale itself

The Naples Botanical Garden sale will include activities for all ages. The big tent plant sale will feature hundreds of plants for sale, including orchids, bromeliads, succulents and native plants. Its Garden Market offers a host of gifts and items for the outdoor enthusiast, including containers, fountains and garden art.

New this year are several Southwest Florida food trucks on the tent lawn serving freshly made local cuisine and ethnic specialties. Demonstrations on various gardening topics will be held at the top of the hour until 1 p.m. both days.

Garden admission is not required for the plant sale, but admission applies to all other activities this weekend. There will be a discounted admission of $2 off this weekend, making adult admission $10.95. Children ages 4-14 cost $5.95, and children younger than 3 will be admitted free. Garden member admission also is free.

IF YOU GO

What: Second Annual Plant Sale at Naples Botanical Garden, including vendors and tents for groups such as the Gulf Coast Orchid Alliance

Where: 4820 Bayshore Drive, Naples

When: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; a session on how to create an orchid garden is at 11 a.m. Sunday

Admission: Free

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WANT TO JOIN?

What: Gulf Coast Orchid Alliance

When: 6:30-8:30 p.m. on third Thursday of each month, beginning Dec. 20

Where: Vanderbilt Presbyterian Church, 1255 Piper Blvd., Naples

Information: 239-498-9741 or www.GulfCoastOrchidAlliance.com

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