Orchid Gems



Nancy Kline and Gus.jpg

Challenges and Opportunities – Nancy Kline

By: Pam Horter-Moore

You don’t have to be in OSWP long before you hear the name Nancy Kline. If you had attended meetings before the Covid pandemic, you might have seen her seated at the Membership table, ready to answer your questions about your orchids.

There is no formality in Nancy’s Culture Corner; people know they can approach Nancy with their orchid questions, understanding that they will get a friendly reception and a clear, frank, and informed answer.

A grower long before she was an OSWP member, Nancy joined the Society in 2003 and has been one of its most active members ever since. Although she has been active in Membership, is the Society’s AOS Representative, and has served on the board and as Orchid Show Chairperson, Nancy’s name usually comes up when talk turns to the collaboration between OSWP and Phipps Conservatory through Pfun at Phipps and P-OSI.

Through these two programs, OSWP performs a service, not only to Phipps, but to the community at large. Both programs have a distinct purpose: Whereas P-OSI is an OSWP-Phipps initiative to create an incomparable orchid collection at the Conservatory, Phun at Phipps is the hands-on side of the collaboration.

The Pfun part for OSWP members is the joy of repotting, inventorying, and otherwise supporting the Phipps orchid collection. It’s an opportunity to talk with other members and the Phipps staff about all things orchid, as well as a chance to work with a variety of plants.

The relationship benefits both partners. “Like so many places, Phipps was forced to suspend many of its activities during the Covid pandemic. OSWP volunteers could no longer come in to care for the collection,” Nancy recalls. When Phipps finally brought OSWP back in March 2022, there was a need to catch up. The collaboration is back, in full swing.

Pfun at Phipps is open to experienced, intermediate, and novice orchidists. Three or four OSWP volunteers meet twice a week. For more information, see https://www.oswp.org/pfun.

Nancy was an orchidist before she joined OSWP in 2003, and her story demonstrates the serendipity of orchid fever. “I found an orchid abandoned in the garbage, still tied up in its gift wrapping,” Nancy relates. “I took it home, and it became a fabulous bloomer for me.” That “garbage orchid” encouraged her to acquire a few more.

In 2003, with her children grown, Nancy decided that she now had the time to take up a hobby. She attended the OSWP Orchid Show and joined the Society.

Then serendipity struck again. “I attended the new member orientation meeting and was surprised to see a familiar face,” Nancy recollects. It was Carol Panza, with whom she played tennis at the Oxford Athletic Club of Wexford. They had joined the Society at the same time.

Nancy and Carol have been energetic members of the Society ever since, serving as Membership and Show Chairpersons for several years, as well as in other capacities.

“I lived closer to Phipps back then, so I began to volunteer,” Nancy explains. “It was a wonderful learning experience.” This satisfying combination of personal enrichment and volunteerism is really what Pfun at Phipps is all about.

Nancy has many interests besides orchids. She sold real estate. A political activist, she is a former council woman for Pine Township. Nancy has been a member of the Oxford Athletic Club for 24 years, and taught water aerobics for fifteen years. “A person must be certified every two years to be a water aerobics instructor,” Nancy remarks. “That involves fifteen or more hours of classwork and CPR certification.” She works part-time to assist a friend who owns Levana Bratique, a lingerie shop in Wexford.

A native of Mount Lebanon, Nancy currently lives in the North Hills. She lost her husband Fred over a year ago, but is blessed with two sons and two grandchildren.

Nancy maintains a collection of 130 plants. “I grow hanger-on orchids – those that don’t die,” she quips. Phragmipediums are her favorites, although she also has Catasetums, Cattleyas, Oncidiums, and a mix of other orchids.

She is concerned about the future of the hobby. “Orchid vendors are struggling and need the support of orchid enthusiasts,” Nancy says. “Many are going out of business due to age, health, or business conditions. Inflation is hurting them just as it is hurting all of us.

“There was once a time when vendors would beg us for table space at our show. Now, many of them are gone, and we are down to a handful who might participate. Members are getting most of their orchids from big-box stores like Giant Eagle, Lowes, or Home Depot. By and large, these are Phalaenopsis, which are beautiful orchids, but you don’t have the variety that so many collectors have come to enjoy. As collectors and as a Society, we discover that this is a whole new ballgame.”

Regardless of the issues confronting the orchid world, Nancy remains optimistic. “When OSWP hosted its meetings through Zoom during the pandemic, we had participants from all over – old members who had moved out of the area, people who lived too far to attend meetings in person.

“The challenges the pandemic imposed became an opportunity for others to participate. We learned to make something positive out of it.” Sometimes challenges can lead us to new ways of thinking.