BY MELANIE BUCK –
Mena resident Meda Ballard got a big surprise when she decided to ‘Google’ her name online about a month ago, just out of curiosity. Little did she know that an orchid shared her name.
Ballard, a former resident of Arlington, Texas, could only think of one person who would name an orchid after her, Ken Avant. Ken is the son of Ballard’s late friend, Betty. “Ken and I both loved orchids and we used to go to shows together and to the Fort Worth Orchid Society,” recalls Ballard. She explained that she was friends with both of Betty’s boys, Ken and Mark, but that she and Ken shared a love for orchids and both grew many of them. “He had a huge greenhouse with something like a baby incubator and was cutting and crossing many of the orchids. Ken was good at making hybridized orchids. He wrote papers and articles on orchids also.”
Having lost touch with Ken over the years, Ballard contacted Mark when she found the orchid online. “When I found the one with my name, I called Mark and asked if he knew anything about it.” Mark told Ballard that Ken often named his creations after people he considered special. It was in the late 1970’s that he created the orchid and had Ballard not gotten curious, she may never have known that he honored her in such a way.
The ‘Paphiopedilum Meda Ballard’ is described by Carter and Holmes Orchids as the, “perfect blend of complex and sequential breeding. Chartreuse green and soft yellow blooms with white dorsal halos will appear on plants with dark glossy foliage.” Ballard said they are a ‘lady slipper’ type orchid with a little white halo and she plans to order as soon as possible. Ballard now spends her days making ‘reborn baby’ dolls but will always have a passion for orchids. “It was a happy surprise. I am honored,” smiled Ballard.