Noble Flower

Richmond’s Chadwick & Son introduces its newest first lady orchid.

Whenever the phone rings, Art Chadwick checks to see if the call is from the office of first lady Melania Trump. The owner of Chadwick & Son Orchids is waiting to schedule a time to present the first lady with her namesake orchid. 

Chadwick named the hybrid for Melania Trump when her husband Donald was running for office. “We didn’t know if he would win or not,” Chadwick says, adding that he also named a hybrid for Bill Clinton in the event Hillary Clinton won the election. 

Chadwick & Son, founded in 1989, began naming hybrids for first ladies in the early 1990s. “We have named orchids for the last five first ladies,” Chadwick says, “and we donate them to the U. S. Botanical Garden in Washington, D.C. They’re part of a legacy.” The naming tradition dates to 1929, he explains. “Mrs. Hoover was the first to have one.”  

 By the 1980s, the tradition had been nearly forgotten until Chadwick revived it. Before they can be presented to the first lady, the hybrids are registered with and approved by the Royal Horticulture Society in London.

The hybrid created for Melania Trump is unusual, says Chadwick: “I’ve never seen a hybrid with such variation. They are usually one or two colors but this is a wide range—pink, orange, peach, gold, rust, red, purple. Some of the colors are exotic like the first lady.”

Chadwick has also presented namesake orchids to Queen Elizabeth II and former U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and is currently waiting to hear about making a presentation to Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. 

Though Chadwick’s first lady orchids are not for sale, customers have the opportunity to name their own. 

For $1,500, the recipient receives 20 plants in the Cattleya family—the same genus as the first lady orchids—and selects a name. If it has not been used before, the name is then registered with the Royal Horticultural Society.

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