2017 Update – The Bizzarre Official and Unofficial Story of Gubler Orchids
2017 – UPDATE
Looking for something to do in the desert the first weekend of October? The Morongo Basin Orchid Festival is the place to be. On October 7th and 8th, 2017 join us at the 22nd annual Morongo Basin Orchid festival where you can look at hundreds of beautiful orchids and carnivorous plants. After the Landers 1992 earthquake the nursery was demolished and had to be re-built.
I hope to see everyone there for this great celebration of success in the Mojave Desert.
Take It Easy – Mojave
ORIGINAL BLOG POST:
It sure sounds a bit bizarre but if I were to say “Let’s head out to the Mojave Desert and look at all the great world class orchids that are available” what would you say? Well as bizarre as it sounds it is true, you can take part in this exact scenario today by visiting Gublers Orchids in Landers California and browsing acres of Orchids.
Here is the OFFICIAL explanation:
Heinrich Gubler always had a love for plants and began growing them commercially in 1918, his nursery was located in the small town of Pfäffikon, near Zurich, Switzerland. He grew many different plants, tropicals of all sorts, cactus, geraniums, and of course, orchids, the business rapidly grew and became one of the largest nurseries in Switzerland at the time. In 1928, Hans Gubler was born, the second of two sons, Hans traveled extensively throughout Europe, visiting nurseries in Denmark, Holland, Sweden, Belgium and England. He began experimenting with Colchicine on Cattleyas, in an effort to double the chromosome count and produce larger flowers (yeah like I understand that sentence). His efforts paid off and he moved to Los Angeles in 1952 to set up a laboratory program. Two years later Hans was contacted by movie producer, Arthur Freed, to set up an orchid nursery in Malibu, California.
Hans met Esther in 1954 and were married later that year. Two years later, they had saved up $300 and started Gubler Orchids (USA) in Altadena, California, selling orchids from the back of their station wagon. Business was booming and they were able to move to Pasadena, California in 1958 and lease a 1,200 sq. ft. Greenhouse, as the business grew, so did their family. In 1959 H. Christopher was born, soon after in 1961, the Gublers purchased a 5,000 sq. ft. nursery in Temple City, California then in December of the same year, Karin-Ann was born, she was followed in 1964 with their second daughter Heidi.
In 1965, Hans developed the concept of a packaged orchid seedling, complete with full growing instructions, Hans revolutionized the merchandising of plants in the horticulture industry. In ten years Gubler Orchids sales quintupled, the need for a larger nursery was more than evident. In 1975, Hans and Esther found another nursery in the Hi-Desert community of Landers, California, clean air, great water quality, one of the sunniest locations in the US and four seasons made this an ideal location, it was over 10 times the size of their Temple City nursery. Gublers was now selling orchids all over the world including some major retailers in the United States. During this time, their son, was earning a degree in Ornamental Horticulture, with minors in Botany and Marketing, Chris then joined the family business in 1981 and brought fresh and new ideas, the business continued to flourish.
The Gubler family again needed more growing space and purchased another nursery in Lucerne Valley, California, about 30 miles from Landers. The overall growing space was about two and a half times the size of the Landers operation and was larger than the original operation in Switzerland, the greenhouses purchased however, were in need of much repair. The first fully operational greenhouse was opened in 1986, then in November of 1988, Hans passed away, he sadly missed the completion of his last expansion. Chris then took charge of the business, working side by side with Esther.
It was in the early hours of June 28th 1992, that a 7.6 magnitude earthquake occurred within one mile of the Landers nursery. The nursery suffered extensive damages, faced with huge repair costs and inventory losses, Chris along with Esther, decided to rebuild. The repairs took over 3 years, however it was an opportunity to modernize the facility. In September of 1995 the nursery was formally reopened, Gubler Orchids co-founder, Esther Gubler, passed away three years later. Heidi (Gubler) Brodeur joined the company that same year. She had received her degree in Small Business Management and works with product development, corporate sales and training.
Chris continued to repair and modernize the Lucerne Nursery until all twenty-one greenhouses were fully operational. Improving efficiency along the way, wind turbines were added to both nurseries in 2010. Today Gubler Orchids has over 155,000 square feet of greenhouses in production, Orchids are now shipped primarily in the United States and Canada. In addition to orchid plants, Gubler Orchids has a complete line of orchid essentials, such as orchid food and mixes, the same formulas used in their nurseries. Gubler Orchids has developed a reputation as one of the top quality orchid growers in the world.
Now that was the OFFICIAL explanation of this little miracle in the desert but here is the rest of my UNOFFICIAL input:
Gublers Orchids in their Landers location conducts free tours and the site has a gift shop, this is a great place to take out-of-town visitors because it is literally amazing.
It is right across the street from one of the subjects in this previous blog post: https://www.desertusa.com/dusablog/area-29.html so you can enjoy both places in one trip.
They are open Monday – Saturday, 10:am to 3:30 pm., for groups larger than ten, please call them at (760) 364-2282. They are easy to find, take the I-10 to CA-62 to CA-247 to Reche Rd. & just follow the signs. 2200 Belfield Blvd, Landers, CA. 92285.
Here is the Gubler Orchids website: http://www.gublerorchids.com/
If you want to do something really exciting you can attend the 18th Annual Orchid Festival, Saturday & Sunday, October 7th & 8th, 2017.
Here is the OFFICIAL explanation of the Orchid Festival:
How the Event Got Started: The Morongo Basin Orchid Festival was first held in October of 1996. Sponsored by the Landers Area Chamber of Commerce, Gubler Orchids, Hi Desert Star, and Z-107.7 Radio, the purpose of the festival was celebrate the orchid harvest and to attract out-of-town visitors. Proceeds from orchid sales were first used to finance productions at the Homestead Valley Park. In 1999 the Sunset Rotary Club of Yucca Valley took over the management of the festival and decided to use the proceeds to benefit non-profit groups in the Hi and Low Deserts. In 2009, over $12,500 was distributed to non-profit desert organizations. In the past six years the Morongo Basin Orchid Festival raised and distributed over $63,500 to charities.
Today, the Festival has grown in scope and diversity. Tours of the Gubler Orchid Greenhouses is still the cornerstone of the event. Orchid “How to” classes provided by the Arizona Orchid Society, Wine and Cheese tasting, music, entertainment, food, and beverages also play an important part in the making the festival a daytime destination for locals and tourists. The festival has become a showcase of participating non-profits organizations and festival goers can learn about all the wonderful agencies and the programs that they provide in the community. Gubler Orchids donates all the net profits to Yucca Valley Sunset Rotary club for distribution.
Here is the Orchid Festival website: http://www.gublerorchids.com/orchid-festival/
Now back to my UNOFFICIAL advice:
Take it from me, you don’t want to miss this event, it is well worth the drive and you will be amazed at all that you see. You will then realize that its really not as bizarre as it seemed to go shopping for orchids in the Mojave Desert. Well…. be sure you ask to smell the orchid that smells like chocolate…. maybe it is a little bizarre.
Take It Easy – Mojave