|Apr 2015 article||"From orchid enthusiast to award-winning orchid grower"|
|Feb 2015||Lois Duffin is the winner of the PHS Orchid Award at the 2015 Philadelphia Flower Show|
|Feb 2014||Lois Duffin is the winner of the PHS Orchid Award at the 2014 Philadelphia Flower Show|
|Jul 2012||Orchid Digest, via nomination by GPOS, has presented Lois and Jim Duffin with the "Orchid Digest Diamond Award"|
|Oct 2011 article||AOS Orchids Magazine Spotlight: "Dendrobium bullenianum ‘Mt. Airy', CCM/AOS"|
|Feb 2011 article||"Philly-grown flowers, even in winter"|
|Feb 2004 article||"Good health flowers for Mt. Airy former CEO, Beauty rescues area's largest orchid grower"|
Mt. Airy resident Lois Duffin never intended to become an award-winning orchid
grower. She just wanted to grow a few household plants in her living room
Duffin, who grew up on a dairy farm in Bowling Green, Ohio, said she always enjoyed working in the garden.
"I loved to plant any kind of flowers," she said, "but our soil wasn't very good."
Unfortunately, when she moved to Mt. Airy with her husband, Jim, she quickly discovered they "didn't have the right kind of soil to grow vegetables or flowers."
"So, I grew all kinds of house plants – coffee plants, banana plants and African violets," said Duffin, who was a stay-at-home mom, guitar teacher and director of liturgical music at Holy Cross Church in Mt. Airy.
"It all started with one orchid I bought in 1979," she said. "At $25, it was the most expensive plant I ever bought. I put it in the windowsill in the midst of the ones I already had. After it finished blooming, I just didn't know what to do, so I started buying all kinds of orchid books. Ten months later, it bloomed again, and I got all excited because I thought ‘I could do it.'"
She said from that moment on she was hooked.
"I couldn't really afford them, but I had to get more of them," Duffin said. "So, I started selling stamps from my stamp collection. I sold $135 worth of stamps. By the 80s, I was seriously collecting orchids."
That's when she decided to join the Greater Philadelphia Orchid Society (GPOS).
"I learned a lot," said Duffin, who by then had started growing orchids in her basement under grow lights. "You can ask people about problems you are having."
Duffin, who served as president of the GPOS for decades, arranged for dozens of orchid experts, many of whom are internationally known, to speak at their meetings.
"I hosted speakers from other orchid societies – England, South Africa, Venezuela, Ecuador, Brazil and many others," she said. "We hosted several speakers in our home, and, as a result, we have traveled to three countries in South America.
"We got to see other people's orchid collections," said Duffin, "David Banks, who writes for the Australian Orchid Review, showed us around Sydney, Australia. We never stayed in a hotel when we traveled. We stayed with different orchid people. Banks even arranged for us to stay at somebody's house in Tasmania. Thanks to the Greater Philadelphia Orchid Society, we have developed some great friends over the years."
In 1990, Lois and her husband decided to turn her hobby into a full-time job. They began caring for other people's orchids and started renting spaces in greenhouses in Wyndmoor, New Jersey and Pottstown.
In 2000, they decided to build two greenhouses on land rented from Robertson's Florists. Now, Lois Duffin Orchids is one of the largest commercial growers of orchids in Philadelphia, with more than 500 types of orchids.
For ten years, they exhibited their orchids at the New York Orchid Show. In 2003, they won a trophy at the show for the "Best Phragmipedium" out of hundreds of entrants.
In 2014 and 2015, they won the Philadelphia Horticulture Society's Orchid Award at The Philadelphia Flower Show.
And to think it all started with one orchid plant.
But growing orchids is a time-consuming and delicate process, and every day it gets a little harder to make a living growing and selling orchids.
"The orchid world is changing," said Duffin, 84, who hopes to retire soon. "Countries like Taiwan and Columbia can mass produce orchids for less than what I pay wholesale."
"I love growing orchids, but I am not getting any younger," she said. "I would love to see someone take over the business who loves orchids as much as I do."
From April 24 to 26, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the Duffins will show their award-winning orchids at the International Orchid Show at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia. For more information about Lois and Jim Duffin's award-winning orchids go to loisduffinorchids.com or call .
Photograph by Maurice Marietti
|Lois Duffin is the winner of the PHS Orchid Award at the 2015 Philadelphia Flower Show: "Outstanding blue-ribbon winner" for her Dendrobium delicatum 'Mt. Airy' CCE/AOS.|
From Orchid Digest
"Quite simply put, without Lois Duffin and the unending assistance of her husband Jim, there simply would not be a Greater Philadelphia Orchid Society (GPOS). Lois Duffin had been President of the Greater Philadelphia Orchid Society longer than anyone can really remember though records seem to go back into the 1970's. Now that she has retired from that position, the members wish to honor her service for these many years with the prestigious Orchid Digest Diamond Award.
Through the years, Lois not only oversaw the meetings but arranged speakers, promoted Show Tables, organized auctions and other fund-raisers. Through her leadership, the society remained a viable organization through good times and bad. Her husband, Jim, always by her side is her constant assistant and associate. This award is but a small token of our appreciation for the unselfish contributions they have made for decades to the society. They continue to serve as Directors on the Board and participants on the Show Table. Our sincere thanks to Lois and Jim from the Officers, Board of Directors and Members of the Greater Philadelphia Orchid Society."
One thousand seventy-five immaculate flowers and 12 buds in 43 stacked clusters on four upright canes, two canes immature and three emergent, grown in a 12.5- cm clay pot; cone-shaped flowers bright orange; lip flushed red basally, striped red distally; exceptional presentation of an unusual species.
Awarded at the Mid Atlantic Center Monthly Judging. April 28, 2010.
Exhibited by Lois and Jim Duffin.
Photo by Chris Satullo for NewsWorks