Our History

Starting with a visit to an orchid show and the sighting of an orchid native to the Amazon Forest called Catasetum pileatum, a passion was born.  I was hooked by orchids at the same time as my father, Francisco Garcia.  I was just a little boy, 7 or 8 years old.  We were out at a home and garden show looking for plants for our new house.  We saw a Catasetum pileatum and immediately were shocked by its beauty.  My father asked people around where to buy that plant and we were pointed in the right direction, the orchid stand of one of the most important and respected orchid growers in Brazil’s orchid history – Mr. Heitor Gloeden.  He took us under his wings to teach us about orchids.

I was born in a different era of orchid growing.  Cloning of orchids was not even available in Brazil.  At that point, only one orchid had been cloned in Brazil!  Due to my being just a kid, the orchid people that I met and learned from were several generations older than I and approached orchids from a very special angle of kindness, a gentleness in the orchid hobby that was based on friendship.

Native of São Paulo, I, Sergio Garcia, quickly learned about orchid species.  The species that I was first in touch with are still my very favorite – Cattleya, Laelia, Sophronites, Oncidium, Paphiopedilum and Vanda.  I am still fascinated with them.  I love all orchids, but these are the ones that have been populating my thoughts while day dreaming about my favorite hobby, at times even when working in the middle of the options trade floor at the old Pacific Stock Exchange!

My father learned about orchids together with me, so orchid growing came out of my partnership with him in that regard.  Today as I write this page, my dad is 84 years old and we still spend hours discussing possible crossings, preferred cultivars and plants that we still “need” to add to our respective collections.  Still in Brazil, he cultivates beautiful orchids, while I pursue my hobby here in Northern California.  I love it here.  I immigrated in 1989 to Ohio.  After college, my wife and I moved to California where we put roots, made friends and began cultivating orchids again.

During my first years in California, I was an interior horticulturist for several different plant companies, including Plant Design that was a prominent business in the San Francisco Bay area.  Although the focus was on foliage and decorative plants, it gave me great insight at cultivating orchids indoors – inside of homes, offices and even several elevator lobbies that offered terrible conditions for plant cultivation.  That experience taught me what people go through when they bring a plant home without having a greenhouse.

Later I became a cultivator for Hamilton Orchids, who provides orchid boarding services and houses several orchid collections.  That experience offered me the opportunity to be responsible for several thousand orchids all with different environmental requirements.  That is when I visited the orchid business of Mr. Herman Piggors, the father of a college friend.  Mr. Piggors is a well renowned person in the orchid world and in the Chicago area, where his business is located.  He is the founder of Oak Hill Gardens and carries the experience and knowledge of over 50 years of orchid growing.  Mr. Piggors was so kind as to realize my life dream by teaching me how to reproduce orchids in vitro, in a laboratory.

I went on to study and learn more and more techniques not only in the lab, but also in understanding how to plan crossings and hybridization to produce amazing orchids that are improvements over their parents.  We dedicate ourselves to the improvement of species and creation of special hybrids.  We produce orchids with the objective of creating show type plants, with potential to become the next award winners.

In parallel to our own production and breeding program, we partner with a 53 year old, multigenerational orchid business in Brazil named Wenzel Orchids.  Cesar Wenzel, the owner of Wenzel Orchids and I are contemporaneous, both sons of old orchid growers that have known each other for over 30 years.  Wenzel Orchids produces award quality orchids in Brazil with the reputation for being the most important orchid house in the production of Cattleya walkeriana and other Brazilian species.  They are know all over the world.  Olompali Orchids and Wenzel Orchids partner to make beautiful and rare Brazilian species available to the American orchid hobbyist and connoisseur.

Olompali Orchids also partners with AWZ Orchids, another traditional and top of the line orchid house in Brazil.  Alek Zeslawsky and his father Wladimir Zeslawsky are a force to reckon with in the Brazilian Orchid World.  Wladimir was an important engineer in a Brazilian company laying down railroad tracks to extract minerals.  He was involved with so many railroad projects over decades that put him in direct contact with native habitats of the most beautiful orchids in Brazil.  He spent years and decades selecting award quality orchids and purchasing expensive awarded cultivars to build one of the most amazing collections in Brazil.  Alek, the son, who is contemporaneous of mine, has an academic background in Agricultural Engineering (Agronomy).  Alek and I created a partnership to make their amazing orchids available to the American orchid world via Olompali Orchids.

Olompali Orchids was named after a park that is located in the Marin County peninsula overlooking the Petaluma River and San Pablo Bay., which used to be the Grateful Dead Ranch, that belonged to the famous drummer Mickey Hart.  That is a location where many 60’s rock stars used to spend their time and make music such as David Crosby (Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young), members of the band Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin  and others.  Olompali was also a place of great importance for Native American living in that area. It was the largest Native American Center in the region around the year 1200 A.D. and it has been there since 500A.D.

Olompali Orchids has its greenhouses in Sonoma County in the farming area adjacent to the City of Petaluma, California.  We are located in the middle of Sonoma County’s beautiful Wine Country, close to Infenion Raceway (Old Sears Point Race Track) and not very far from Napa Valley and the City of San Francisco.  Contact us to schedule a visit and see first hand the great micro-climate that we have here close to the Petaluma River, San Francisco Bay and under the amazing California sunshine.