Delaware is a tiny state that bears the nickname “Small Wonder.” My parents have lived in Wilmington since 1960, growing orchids in their redwood greenhouses and raising a family.
Horticulturalists know the Wilmington, Del., area as a hot bed of plant activity with the famed Longwood Gardens just over the Pennsylvania line and the annual Philadelphia Flower Show a short drive up I-95. Even closer is the sprawling 1,000-acre former DuPont estate, Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library. Now Wilmington has a new attraction; the 46th President of the United States.
Joe and Jill Biden have been fixtures in Wilmington for as long as most can remember. They are regulars at the local grocery store, Janssen’s Market, and most residents have had at least a sighting of the famous couple. My father once sat next to Mr. Biden at the barber shop.
Jill Biden, or Dr. B as her students call her, grew up about an hour north in Willow Grove, Pa. She met her future husband on a blind date while he was a freshman senator, and they married a few years later. For most of her adult life, she has been an educator — teaching at nearby public schools and technical colleges.
On Jan. 20, Jill Biden will be the 16th consecutive First Lady to have a namesake cattleya hybrid. The time-honored orchid tradition dates back nearly a century to Lou Hoover, wife of Herbert, and has continued for the wife of every president since. The full collection of First Lady Cattleyas resides at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., where the blooming plants are rotated into public displays.