South Coast Orchid Society

Featured Speaker Profile:
Roberta Fox
(September 23, 2019)

© 2019 Roberta Fox

Along the Rio Negro: "Reflection versus reality is part of the magic of the place"

ROBERTA FOX began growing orchids nearly 20 years ago, when she received a Cymbidium plant from a co-worker. She went to the New Otani show that year, and was completely captivated. She was so overwhelmed by the variety, she did not buy anything — the last time THAT happened! She joined several societies, and one orchid followed another. As the collection increased in size and variety, the process of learning how to care for the plants led to an interest in their origins and relationships. This in turn led to a focus on orchid species, since she found that the best way to understand the needs of a hybrid was to learn about the natural growing conditions of the underlying species.

Lecturing about a tour of Ecuador, 2009

Her current collection is about half hybrids and half species. She has a small greenhouse, but nearly 90% of the orchids (around 1800 at last count) live outside, about 5 miles from the coast. Of those, perhaps 25% are Cymbidiums, the balance a large range of other genera. She gravitates toward those orchids that can handle the southern California temperature range, because greenhouse space is very limited, but there is “always room for one more” in the back yard.

© Roberta Fox

After outgrowing a condo and a small patio full or orchids (featured in our newsletter in 2006), Roberta now has a much larger patio (shown here) and a small greenhouse.

When Roberta visits SCOS, she often comes with a sort of wagon train of plants for our ribbon judging table. What a treat! Those plants are some of the most interesting and unusual orchids we have ever seen, generally species, and so well grown, too! She has participated in countless orchid culture round tables and impromptu discussions.

At a SCOS workshop on mounting orchids, May, 2009

Over the years, Roberta has served as President for the Southern California Orchid Species Society, but has mostly held Secretary and Treasurer roles, and, especially, Newsletter Editor. She created the Orchid Species newsletter for at least eight years, and about five (and counting) for the newsletter of the Cool Growing Orchid Society. Somewhere along the line, she also produced some of the SCOS newsletters and she has had a hand in the development of the SCOS web site as well. In addition, she served as Co-chair for the Fascination of Orchids show for 23 years. At one point, she reports, she was on the boards of four different clubs in addition to Fascination of Orchids. Sensibly, she now limits her active involvement only to the Cool Growing Orchid Society.

In addition to developing the vast library of newsletters for the Cool Growing Orchid Society and the Southern California Orchid Species Society, Roberta has also created a major web site, Roberta's Orchids, based on her personal collection. From Acronia to Zygopetalum, if there has been any attempt to grow an orchid outdoors in Southern California, this is the place to look — a stunning resource for the orchid hobbyist.

© 2019 Roberta Fox

Galeandra sp. along the Rio Negro

The Southern California Orchid Species Society no longer holds regular meetings, but you can participate in the online community, perhaps with occasional informal get-togethers at homes and growing areas, by sending an email with your contact information to:

Prior to her retirement, she claims she was a geek, in various roles: system manager, system manager, business data analyst (database jockey), and before that a chemist.

Take a trip on the Rio Negro in Brazil! Roberta will share the highlights of an Orchid Conservation Alliance trip to a magical region of water and sky and orchids at our September 23, 2019 meeting.