published January 27, 2012

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Chadwick & Son Orchids, Inc. donates Presidential Orchid Collection to U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C.

Rlc. Hillary Rodham Clinton 'First Lady' HCC/AOS

Washington, D.C. – Chadwick & Son Orchids, Inc. of Richmond, VA, has donated a sizable collection, 27 specimens, of their renowned First Lady orchids, now known as the Presidential Collection, for permanent display at the United States Botanic Garden (USBG). The collection includes plants named after former first ladies Lady Bird Johnson, Barbara Bush, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Laura Bush as well as those recently presented to First Lady Michelle Obama.

“This is one of the most important gifts that we have received in recent years,” said Bill McLaughlin, curator of Living Collections for the United States Botanic Garden. The plants will be grown offsite at the USBG production facility until blooming, and then put on public display at their conservatory across from the Capital. The orchids will bloom at different times throughout the year so there will be new orchids to see almost year round. “All of our plant collections are important, but the orchid collection especially holds significance for generations of both our visitors and our own staff,” says Holly Shimizu, executive director of USBG.

“For the first time, the public can see these famous hybrids, many of which have never been viewed publicly before,” said Art Chadwick, president of Chadwick & Son Orchids, Inc. The father and son team of Chadwick and Chadwick began the tradition of presenting a specially grown hybrid orchid to the First Lady in 1995 with a presentation to Hillary Rodham Clinton. They picked up on a tradition that dated back to 1929, and the presidency of Herbert Hoover, that had dwindled and stopped for many years. A particularly stunning orchid convinced them to renew the tradition and they have continued to cultivate and present outstanding specimens to First Ladies ever since. The process of bringing a hybrid orchid to bloom can take seven to 10 years with no guarantee of success. It remains a highly technical and risky endeavor that keeps the Chadwicks in elite company.

Founded in 1989, Chadwick & Son Orchids has been Richmond’s premier orchid supplier for more than 20 years. The Chadwick family operates 10 greenhouses located on 18 acres in rural Powhatan County as well as a retail location in the heart of Richmond’s museum district. Additionally, the company boards more than 13,000 orchids for local clients and maintains the orchid collection for the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond.

The United States Botanic Garden is one of the oldest botanic gardens in North America. It was formally founded in 1850 with a mission to emphasize the value of plants to humanity. The USBG is part of the legislative branch of government and Architect of the Capitol.

Approximately 1 million people visit the USBG each year. The U.S. Botanic Garden maintains about 12,000 accessions, comprising more than 60,000 plants for exhibition, study, conservation, and exchange with other institutions. Noteworthy collections include economic plants, medicinal plants, orchids, carnivorous plants, cacti and succulents, mid-Atlantic native plants, and ferns. Several specimens date from the original founding collection from the U.S. Exploring Expedition (1838-1842).