Richmond, Va. — Vascular surgeon Marc Warner and his wife Marnie are pet lovers. In addition to Hamlet the pig and Greg the donkey, they care for about 40 animals.
Yet Marc said the love he has for his menagerie is nothing compared to the attachment he has formed with his pet orchids. "You get close to them over the years," he said.
Marc said he's a regular, normal guy. "I just got an orchid. And then I bought another one. And again, I promise you I'm normal," he said.
In his defense, he's not the only one who sends his plants to finishing school. Art Chadwick owns Chadwick and Son Orchids near Richmond, Virginia. His business used to just sell orchids. But now he mostly boards them.
"People would say, 'Can you take care of my orchid now that it has finished blooming?' I'd say, 'Well, I guess I could,'" Art said.
"You sort of feel guilty throwing away a living plant," he said. "It'd be like throwing away your dog. You can't do that."
Like family, it can be hard to say goodbye. Art recently had to tell a woman her orchid will likely never bloom again.
She gave him the OK to bury it.
"There was a silence initially and then, you know, she realized there was nothing she could do," Art said.
Fortunately, most orchids survive. So after you pay your monthly $2-per-plant boarding fee, you get your babies back in full bloom.
And again, Marc is not alone. There are orchid boarders in most states now. It's common. Normal? I'll let you be the judge.