A Trip to Carter and Holmes Orchids in Newberry, S.C.

Carter and Holmes Orchids
My in-laws visited us about a month ago over the Mother’s Day weekend. I was a bit nervous going into it, thinking I’d be consumed with angry thoughts on celebrating another Mother’s Day not being a mom, but I survived. More tears were shed in anticipation of the weekend than during the actual weekend.

One of the activities our in-laws were keen on was visiting a nearby orchid farm. It sounded great to me! I have never been so wild about flowers and gardening as I am at this very moment. Much like I was addicted to eating and drinking my way through Manhattan in my 20s, I’m now suddenly and violently hooked on buying flowers, trees, shrubs and anything with roots to plant in our yard. The more flora I can bring in the better. Last fall we hired a landscape architect when what we really needed was an immediate backyard intervention. The previous owners did nothing to the yard except mow weeds and build a playset (we deviously had its removal signed into our purchasing contract). Initially, I set out to buy everything our designer put on our “plant list” in installments, but now I’m so obsessed with beautifying our yard that I can barely go a day without stopping at the local nursery (or even Lowe’s or Home Depot) to see what I might have missed the day before.

I was gabbing with a friend of ours at an art exhibit last week about yardwork. His idea of the concept is planting a rose bush then never tending to it again, while his neighbor is extremely fussy about her yard because it’s “a kind of therapy for her.”

Ding ding ding ding! Gardening as therapy. No wonder.

I have mentioned the idea of therapy for months now, to help me deal with the pain of infertility, but I have yet to bite the bullet. Fear isn’t even the issue. I started therapy about a year before my wedding and it was marginally helpful to talk to someone once a week about some issues, though admittedly I would have liked for the therapist to analyze/talk more and for me to talk less. I don’t feel like asking the few people I barely know here for therapist referrals. But I guess that’s what the Internet is for, right? Until then, I will keep planting myrica cerifera, calibrachoa and caladium. Because it makes our yard more beautiful, and consequently, me happier, like one of my favorite characters of all time Miss Rumphius.

The orchid farm is about 45 minutes away from our house. We took a country road to get there, winding in and out of the fingers of Lake Murray where the water was speckled with pontoon and speedboats.

Carter and Holmes Orchids

We were there for the Mother’s Day sale event, so the place was definitely crowded, though not in an uncomfortable way. We walked in just before lunchtime and people were lined up to purchase their tall bright orchids.

Beware of the parrot below. His heart-stopping, ear-piercing, loud-as-hell screeches at random will scare the pants off you if you’re in the entranceway. I heard it once, so I knew it was coming, but I still nearly peed my pants when he opened his beak.

Carter and Holmes Orchids

I have no idea what this prehistoric orchid is, but it’s cool looking.

Carter and Holmes Orchids

Ditto here. The furry tendrils were creepy and tarantula-esque.

Carter and Holmes Orchids

This was one of the first greenhouses we walked into. Plants as far as the eye can see.

Carter and Holmes Orchids

My adorable in-laws had a long drive home to Vermont, but they weren’t going home without some new orchids.

Carter and Holmes Orchids

MainMan and I got a variety of plants and sizes, and in order for us to know what they’d grow up to be, we took photos of the ID cards (see below). Later we learned the size of the pot (in inches) determines how many years it will take to get a “mature” orchid. We’re sitting on a few 3-year projects that will really test my green thumb and patience.

Carter and Holmes Orchids

Carter and Holmes Orchids

In addition to orchids growing at all stages, they had a greenhouse filled with ferns. I bought three, of which two are still kicking.

Carter and Holmes Orchids

MainMan was intrigued by the water systems, of course. I’d never been to a working plant farm before. We often went to the orchid store in Culver City, Orchid Fever, but it was fancier with koi ponds and fully grown orchids. Carter and Holmes was a more intense, no-frills operation.

Carter and Holmes Orchids

There were at least a dozen greenhouses, and we had access to about 4 or 5 of them. Truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Carter and Holmes Orchids

I snapped this photo of our Dendrobium beauty from our day trip to Carter and Holmes in the nick of time. Just this morning I noticed a petal thinking about making the big drop. Its stalks are super tall, with one splitting at the top, making it resemble Maleficent’s devilish horns. This stunner is a lovely departure from the orchids you find at your local big box stores. Guess we’ll be going back to replace it once we cut back the stems and put it outside for it to re-bloom.

Dendrobium Tanida Pink orchid from Carter and Holmes Orchids

If you live in the Columbia metropolitan area, I highly recommend a visit to Carter and Holmes Orchids. If you don’t, they have a catalog and I know they deliver all over the world. The staff were all exceptionally friendly and helpful and it’s just a funky, atypical thing to experience. If you have kids who are at all curious about nature, you can’t go wrong with a stop here.

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