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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, March 6, 2010

Lifelong orchid lover heading big show

By Scot Mitamura

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Hobbyist Susan Lim is the honcho of Windward Orchid Society's show for a fifth year.

Scot Mitamura

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Windward Orchid Society 30th Annual

"A Celebration of Orchids" Orchid Show and Plant Sale

King Intermediate School armory

46-155 Kamehameha Highway, Kāne'ohe

9 a.m. to 7 p.m. March 19-20, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 21

Plant sales close at 3 p.m. March 21

$2 donation

56th Annual Kunia Orchid Show

Leilehua High School gym

1515 California Highway, Wahiawā

9 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 19, 20; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 21

$2 donation

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Susan Lim grew up in Kunia Camp and later moved to Kaimukī, where the tomboy remembers getting down and dirty: swinging on banyan trees at the zoo and helping Grandma Lim, her dad and uncle in the garden, raising vegetables and flowers. Grandma Karr, who worked at Kimura Florist, would bring home huge cattleya orchid flowers and plants. Lim was captivated by the incredible beauty of the flowers and their wonderful fragrance.

After her family moved to Kāne'ohe, Lim attended Castle High School, where she was encouraged by Charlie Chong to take a horticulture class that expanded her interest in plants. She became the first female in Future Farmers of America here and an officer for the state association. Throughout high school and college, Lim collected and raised a few orchids at her Kāne'ohe home and received a commission through the Air Force ROTC program in personnel.

However, Lim's constant traveling during her career in the Air Force required her love of orchids to be put on hold, although the passion was never forgotten. Just before retiring, Lim attended her first Windward Orchid Society meeting. Expecting an elderly crowd, she was surprised to see that there were a few younger members, so she figured that maybe she should stick around. Lim soon made the "mistake" of volunteering to help during the club's annual spring show. This is when she was approached by longtime member Toyoko Ajifu, who told her that the organization needed more young members. Next thing you know, Lim was elected secretary, and the rest is history.

This retired major, now an office manager for the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, has never shunned responsibility. She was a two-term president of the Windward Orchid Society and has received the coveted Orchidist of the Year and Decade awards.

The Windward Orchid Society has helped Lim to transition into the civilian community, where she has learned to listen to the "wise ones," not only learning about orchids, but learning about life in general. Lim's goal is to one day be able to correctly pronounce the names of orchids and to be considered one of the wise ones herself so she can continue the legacy of the Windward Orchid Society.

For now, Lim enjoys the stress relief that working in the yard and repotting orchids provides. When repotted correctly, the orchid will reward her with beautiful fragrant flowers, but if not, they get recycled into mulch, making more space to buy more orchids.

For the fifth year, Lim is the chairwoman of the society's show, this year a milestone 30th Annual "A Celebration of Orchids" Spring Show. This special show will feature displays from the top local orchid societies, the Cactus and Succulent Society of Hawaii and the African Violet Society, plus a full slate of free classes. Of course there will be a great orchid and plant sale, plus a new Country Store, just in case Lim finds the need to buy more.