His love of orchids grows, and so does his greenhouse


November 12, 2001|By Karen Nitkin | Karen Nitkin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

CYRUS V. SWETT, 63, of Ellicott City says collecting orchids is liking eating potato chips - it's hard to stop with just one.

"It grows on you," he said, making a very bad pun about his horticultural hobby. "There's always another one you'd like to have."

Swett, who is president of the Maryland Orchid Society, estimates he has from 500 to 600 orchids, and he's constantly acquiring more. To hold all the blooms, he recently built a new greenhouse that's 12 feet by 25 feet, twice the size of his old one.

Swett has been involved in the organization since 1986 and has been president for the past two years.

Swett has also been auction chairman for the past eight years, and he'll be pressed into service for the society's annual orchid auction Nov. 24 from noon to 5 p.m. at the Ellicott City Armory.

The Maryland Orchid Society, which has about 130 members, has two big events every year: a show in the spring and an auction in the fall.

"The auction is always the Saturday after Thanksgiving," Swett said. "We like to keep it the same place and time every year."

The auction is expected to make about $8,000, he said. The money is used to support educational programs for home and garden clubs, and to pay rent for the society's meetings and events, he said. Swett grew up in Washington state and moved to the area in 1963. He retired from a government job at Fort Meade in 1993, though he still works as a consultant.

His interest in orchids blossomed, so to speak, when his son, Cyrus Swett Jr., was earning a horticulture degree from the University of Maryland.

"He was bringing home the plants from the greenhouses," Swett said.

When Swett had 45 plants covering every spare inch of windowsill, he knew it was time to build a greenhouse.

Swett got involved in the society so he could swap information with other orchid lovers.

"You find that the best way to get plants and to talk to people about growing plants is to get involved in the society," he said. His brother, Gerald, is president of an orchid society in Washington state.

Over the years, Swett has served as treasurer, vice president of the Maryland Orchid Society and is now president and auction chairman.

"With any society, if you get interested in it, you should be helping," he said. "It's a nice group of people and a nice way to work with plants and get knowledge."

Admission to the auction is free. Refreshments will be available and credit cards will be accepted.

For directions or more information, call Swett at 410-750-8821.

`Buddy Holly' on stage

The drama department of Mount Hebron High School will put on a production of Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday in the school's auditorium.

The show tells the story of Buddy Holly and the Crickets, a band that changed music in the late '50s before Holly died in a plane crash at the age of 22.

Senior Jake Barron plays Buddy Holly, while juniors Jason Lobe and Jeff Lobe play the drummer and bassist of Holly's group. Sophomore Brian Kurtzman will play the Big Bopper and sophomore James Fritz will portray Ritchie Valens.

Other students with featured roles include Chelsea Saunders, Louis Joe, Kathleen Fritz, Ashley Haley, Brian McNemar, Mike Grew, Barbara Wojtal, Mike Sachs, Kevin Norman and Meg Walker. Principal Ronnie Bohn and teachers Teresa Shirlen, Lori Peddle and Katie Thomas will sing "Why Do Fools Fall in Love."

Tickets are $7 and can be purchased in the school's cafeteria from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on school days or by calling 410-313-2880.

Centennial's stars

Several Centennial High School students were singled out for praise in a recent edition of the school's newsletter, The Eagle's Eye:

Sara Kinney and Laura Dennis were recognized for making and selling ribbon pins, raising $135 for the Red Cross.

Michael Alpert was noted for being a Maryland Distinguished Scholar finalist in both academic achievement and talent in the arts. Ahreum Kin was recognized for being a Maryland Distinguished Scholar finalist in the arts.

Students receiving National Merit Scholarship Program letters of commendation were Heather Ayella, Howard Carolan, Emily Cheng, Alex Chin, David Cho, Tiffany Clay, Jessica Derise, Gregory Franson, Maura Gibson, Laura Goss, Patrick Harvey, Hkye Kyung Hwang, Matthew Kircher, Dinesh Kumar, Sarah McCloskey, Deepika Mittal, Paul Pless, Kevin Ray, Jennifer Richards, Dean Wang, Gihan Wickramaratne, Lauren Wikse and Howie Zheng.

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