Four potted orchids caught Chris Rehmann's eye during a Hawaiian vacation in 1982. Rehmann, a partner at Adams, Rehmann & Heggan Associates, a civil engineering firm in Hammonton, New Jersey, purchased the plants and brought them home. Today, he has more than 1,200 orchids in a backyard greenhouse. Several have won awards from the American Orchid Society, and Rehmann has served as an orchid judge for nearly 15 years. He has attended shows in the U.S., Taiwan, Ecuador, and Belize. Earlier this year, he was named the society's president. Rehmann tends to his orchids five to 10 hours a week, and he often displays a selection of them in his kitchen. "It's nice to come downstairs in the morning and see these wonderful flowers," he says.
Instead of hybrids, Rehmann prefers naturally occurring orchids, particularly those in the Cattleya genus, which is native to Mexico, Central America, and South America.
In 1991, Rehmann earned a First Class Certificate, the American Orchid Society's highest award for flower quality, for a pink-flowered Vanda sanderiana.