GEORGE TOWN - Flower enthusiasts should make a beeline to the Penang Floral Festival 2014, where 800 orchids of various species and hybrids will be on display at Penang Botanic Gardens until June 8.
Event manager Tony Tan, who is also Federation of Malaya Orchid Society vice-president, said this year's exhibition was a class above the rest in terms of quality.
"Some of the orchids here are collectors' items. They are rarely brought out from the planters' homes unless they are for special occasions," he said yesterday.
Among the crowd-pullers is the Paphiopedilum rothschildianum orchid, which won the Best Plant competition last Saturday.
Its owner Sin Chan Wah, 56, said this type of orchid was a protected species which could be found only on Mt Kinabalu.
"Depending on the weather, it blooms once or twice a year," said Sin, who owns a plant nursery in Cameron Highlands.
Businessman Teoh Ah Wang, 57, won the first runner-up spot with his Ascda Somsri Nugget orchid which originates from Thailand.
"Orchids are prized the taller they grow. It took me five years before this one managed to grow this tall," he said.
Some 30 booths have been set up at the exhibition, offering visitors a rich selection of orchids from suppliers as far as Johor, Kuala Lumpur and Cameron Highlands.
Dr Norhaslinda Kamaruddin, 35, who came from Malacca, said it was an enlightening experience on her first visit to the festival.
"It is a great event with a variety of orchids for sale.
"However, I felt that more promotional campaigns should be done outside the state, so that more Malaysians will know about the festival," she added.
For German tourist Manfred Scheubeck, 43, and his wife Ariane Scheubeck, 44, the exhibition was certainly a sight to behold.
"Usually, it is too cold to grow these type of flowers in our country, so it is the first time we are seeing these orchids.
"We have never seen orchids that can just hang on a wall. In Germany, they only come in pots," he added.
Earlier, the Governor's consort Toh Puan Majimor Shariff and Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng's wife Betty Chew launched the event.
They also visited the booths set up by government departments and private organisations.
Majimor expressed hope that more companies would take part in the event in the future.
Admission to the festival, held daily from 9am to 7pm, is free.