The GCC Open Class winners: Jose Avila, Kiyoko Fukuhara, Kay Okamoto, Edith Murata and Light Matsumoto.

By RYOKO OHNISHI, Rafu Staff Writer

GARDENA — The 26th annual Orchid Show of the Gardena Cymbidium Club (GCC) was held over the weekend of Feb. 16-17 at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena.

The show included a potting demonstration.

It happened to be the same weekend as Chinese New Year’s events, so the number of attendees was less than last year; however, those who came to the show enjoyed the display of colorful cymbidiums that have been cultivated by amateur growers as well as potting demonstrations by the club’s president, Gary Kennell.

Even though temperatures warmed up over the weekend, many of the members claimed that this year it was very difficult to have a perfect bloom in time for the show due to the weather. They experienced extremely hot weather last fall and cold at the beginning of this year. Some buds did not grow enough.

One of the members, Koh Jabami, said, “I usually bring at least 10 pots for the exhibition, but this year, I only could bring four pots because they are not ready yet.”

Jabami predicted it would takes a few weeks for them bloom this year.

A judge from the Cymbidium Society of America, an international orchid society, came to the show on Saturday morning but none of the plants were selected as awardees this year.

Several members were recognized by GCC’s judges. The title of grand champion was awarded to Kay Okamoto, an 80-year-old retired entrepreneur, for his “Fox Hill Magic.”

Orchids came in all colors, including green.

Okamoto said, “I pollinated and grew this plant from the seedling. It is a hybrid of a tall type, Gilgamesh, and big-flowering Red Beauty. I got the seeds sprouted in my glass flask in my kitchen. It took me five years to have it sprout without being molded. This plant is almost ten years old and my philosophy is not to divide the plants and keep them in the same container. I think my style is different from anybody else.”

It seems as if each member has his or her own secret recipe for growing orchids, with differences in the manner of watering, fertilizing, etc. Okamoto says he adds coffee grounds to the fertilizer.

The other GCC awardees this year were:

Best standard cymbidium — Edith Murata for Citation “Ikeda”;

Best miniature/novelty cymbidium — Kiyoko Fukuhara for Snow Court “Yuki”;

Best pendulous cymbidium — Jose Avila for “Mini Mary”;

Best first bloom from seedling — Jose Avila for Hazel Tyers x Pink Champagne;

Best cultural cymbidium — Light Matsumoto for Earlisue x Devon Odyssey;

Other genres— Masao Yamanaka, Alicia Guillen, and Van Ngo.

Founded in 1985 by Japanese American gardeners, the GCC meets every third Tuesday evening from September to May at 7 p.m. at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center. Annual membership fee is $8 (Sept. 1 to Aug. 31). At the monthly meetings, speakers are invited and raffles and silent auctions of plants are held.

The group is planning to host a bus tour to the Santa Barbara Orchid Show on March 9. For more information, contact Gary Kennell at (562) 242-6724 or email Yvonne Nishio at

Other orchid shows in the Southland include:

South Bay Orchid Society, Saturday and Sunday, March 2-3, at Torrance Cultural Center, 3333 Civic Center Drive. Admission: $5.

Bay City Gardeners’ Association’s Cymbidium Orchid Show on Saturday and Sunday, March 30-31, at West L.A. Buddhist Church, 2003 Corinth Ave.

Photos by RYOKO OHNISHI/Rafu Shimpo

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