Thursday, February 17, 2011

Diamond in the Snow: Franna’s Greenhouse

“It’s like a diamond in the snow,” Franna explained. “Most of the orchids are blooming, and I have them positioned so I can see them from the house.”

Franna, who lives in the Hillandale section of Silver Spring, Maryland, is talking about her greenhouse. One of her orchids is the offspring of the first orchid she bought in 1964.

“Five or six years ago, the electric went off in a winter storm and everything froze,” Franna added. “I decided it was just too much. I was going to sell it—or give it away. But I just couldn’t. It’s a part of our family and always will be.

“My husband used to take care of everything in our yard. Once we even grew pansies to sell, but we put them out on the patio for some sun and rabbits wiped us out. Allen and I exchanged orchids on Valentine’s Day. When our son was in high school at Takoma Academy and was going out on a big date, we’d buy another orchid plant. I’d make a corsage for his date, and we’d add the plant to our collection. Oh, the memories.”

“My husband and son bought a Janco kit and assembled it in 1971,” Franna said. “We just had to have a place to garden year-round.” The greenhouse is 10 x 14 feet and tied into the house’s hot-water heating system.

The greenhouse is home to Franna’s orchids and those of a friend who used to work at Kensington Orchid, which no longer is in business. A neighbor brings red and pink geraniums to overwinter. A bird-of-paradise plant thrives, but a gardenia doesn’t, probably because the temperature occasionally dips too low.

'My Redskins orchid, burgundy and gold.'
If you like the story of Johnny Appleseed, you’ll like the story of Franna Orchidplant. “I’ve encouraged so many friends to grow orchids,” she explained. “Julie and Larry and June and Charlie grow them now in Florida. Arnie and Dollie and Orlando and Selma grow them here in Maryland. They are so good at it that they have blooms when I have none.”

Franna loves her greenhouse. It’s memories, beauty, her diamond in the snow.


  1. Franna, thank you for sharing this beautiful part of your life with us, as well as adding the lovely pictures. As a lover of flowers & designer of my own "little" flower garden, I can
    truly appreciate the happiness this creative hobby
    must have brought to your life, and to your husband and son. Vivian Ross

  2. Franna's beautiful orchids are stunning, and so is the lady herself. It was a treat to see the greenhouse and her orchids. I know her orchids have brought much joy to her life.

  3. Franna says she tries to work in her greenhouse three times a week. She admits that when she starts working with her orchids, time just whizzes by and she ends up spending much more time than she planned. Tough life when you're having so much fun!