HOMESTEAD — A new, one-of-a-kind flower has been cultivated and named after a beloved south Miami-Dade educator and respected community leader.
The Vanda Rosemary Fuller orchid is a hybrid of two other vandaceous or vanda varieties that were developed by award-winning cultivators and internationally acclaimed orchid experts Robert Fuchs and Michael Coronado.
Orchids are the largest groups of flowering plants in the world and vandas are known for their single stems and large flowers.
Fuchs is owner of the R.F. Orchids nursery and botanical gardens located in the Redland area of southwest Miami-Dade County, regarded as one of the world’s foremost orchid nurseries.
“I am pleased, surprised and humbled,” said Fuller, a resident of an unincorporated area near the city of Homestead. “You always have nice things happen to you, but this is just a wonderful gesture.”
Dating back to the 19th century, the Royal Horticultural Society in London has been the global registrar for orchid hybrids. The Vanda Rosemary Fuller has been registered with the society and is available for purchase throughout the world.
“She is just a lovely person,” Fuchs said. “I have known her for a lot years and I respect her. She is a leader in our community. Rosemary Fuller has been a friend and customer of ours for many, many years. She has devoted herself to the betterment of our community and was involved in education in South Florida for decades. We wanted to recognize her achievements.”
Fuller, 62, said she went by the nursery one morning as she often does and noticed nursery staff were smiling more than usual.
“They are always very nice but this time it was different. I was about to leave when Robert [Fuchs] said he had something to show me,” Fuller recalled. “When I saw him coming with the plant, I thought it was just lovely, with its large lavender blooms. That’s when all of the staff came out and told me it was for me.”
Fuller, who is a retired Miami-Dade school principal and active in the community, said she cried with joy.
“I couldn’t help it, I was just happy,” she said.
Over the years, Fuller has provided insight into several educational initiatives and civic endeavors. She and fellow community advocate Patricia “Pat” Mellerson garnered national attention in 2009 in their successful effort to have the Confederate battle flag banned from the annual Veterans Day parade in Homestead.
Mostly recently, Fuller served on one of the nominating boards that select the principal of the year for the Miami-Dade schools.
She is a member of the pioneering Mizell family whose historic accomplishments are chronicled throughout South Florida. Her cousin, Don Mizell, is a Grammy award-winning producer who worked with Ray Charles and other noted artists.
Other members of the Mizell family include Dr. Von Mizell, who started Provident Hospital, the first hospital for blacks in Broward County. Isadore Mizell built Dania Beach’s first black school.
Roy Mizell started and became the first president of the Fort Lauderdale branch of the NAACP. Fonce and Larry Mizell produced platinum albums for Capitol Records and Motown acts.
“One of the privileges and honors accorded to orchid hybridizers is the right to name their hybrids. We are one of the world’s foremost hybridizers of vandaceous orchids and we register many of our hybrids to honor the special people in our lives,” Fuchs said. “We have registered orchid hybrids in memory of loved ones and to honor friends and family members.”
Fuchs said the Vanda Rosemary Fuller is a cross cultivation of the award-winning Vanda Robert’s Delight and Vanda Peter Cummings orchids.
The Vanda Rosemary Fuller is a creation with large, five-petal flat blooms of bright lavender with complements of shades of purple. Fine white spots are sprinkled over the blooms which are surrounded by deep green, spear shaped leaves.
The orchid sells for $59.95 and is on display at R.F. Orchids, 28100 SW 182nd Ave., Homestead, which has been growing and supplying orchids to nurseries, retailers and collectors worldwide since 1970.
The company’s hybrids have won more than 900 awards, including world titles and was offered as much as $25,000 for one of its orchids.
“You never know who is appreciating your community work and I’m still walking on clouds,” said Fuller. “It really is heartwarming and makes it all worth it.”
Pictured Above : Michael Coronado, Rosemary Fuller and Robert Fuchs
The Vanda Rosemary Fuller Orchid Information:
R.F. Orchids, Inc.
28100 SW 182 Ave.
Homestead FL 33030-1804
Toll-free order line: 877-482-6327
Elgin Jones may be reached at EJones@sfltimes.com