There is a tropical garden up in the most unlikely of places—the high desert—that grows orchids, by the thousands.
I discovered it by pure chance while on another assignment in Landers, located north of Yucca Valley about 55 miles from Palm Springs. As I drove on Belfield Boulevard, I saw dozens of cars in a busy parking lot next to a huge tent-like structure. I thought it might have been a celebrity wedding—but instead, it was the largest orchid nursery I’d ever seen.
I grabbed my camera and started taking photos of the gorgeous orchids—and didn’t stop until I went through tens of thousands of square feet of absolute botanical beauty owned by Gubler Orchids company. It was a true photographers’ paradise.
Any horticultural expert will tell you that orchids are among most elegant, most expensive and most sought-out flowers. It’s a fact that Charles Darwin was doing research on orchids while also working on his Theory of Evolution.
The Gubler family has been gardening at their Landers orchid nursery since 1975. According to Heidi Gubler Brodeur, there have been three generations of botanists in her family, starting with her grandfather, Heinrich Gubler, who owned a nursery near Zurich, Switzerland, back in 1918.
“My dad, Hans Gubler, arrived in the U.S. in 1949,” she said. “He lived the American dream. In 1954, after having saved $300, he started his own business selling orchids out of a station wagon in Altadena, Calif.”
Later on, Hans Gubler named Cattleya orchid hybrids after each of his three children: Lc. Christopher Gubler, C. Karin Ann Gubler, and Pot. Heidi Gubler.
Over the years, Gubler Orchids grew into one of the largest orchid growers in the nation. The crucial moment for the company’s expansion came with the move to the high desert, where the family built advanced solar greenhouses.
“We came here for clean air, pure water, sunshine and four growing seasons,” Gubler Brodeur said. “We ship our orchids throughout the world and everywhere nationwide, even to Alaska.”
Today, the company is led by Chris Gubler, who managed to double it in size and increase sales 10 times over since taking the reins.
But not everything has been rosy for the Gubler family in the high desert: They suffered a big blow during the 7.3-magnitude earthquake that hit Landers on June 28, 1992.
“I was in shock. Everything our family had worked for had been ruined,” Chris Gubler said.
However, this horror story has a happy ending.
“It turns out that the earthquake was a rebirth for Gubler Orchids, as we made huge capital improvements to nursery,” he said.
Gubler Orchids also owns and operates another nursery nearby in Lucerne Valley, but it is closed to the public. Between the two nurseries, the Gublers own approximately 155,000 square feet of producing greenhouses.
The family also owns a couple of orchids that are beyond 60 years old!
The future of the company seems secure, with the fourth generation of Gublers stepping in: Chris’ daughter, Kelsey, just joined the company after graduating from Cal Poly.
Gubler Orchids is located at 2200 Belfield Blvd. in Landers. Its showroom, growing grounds and greenhouses are open from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday. For more information, call 760-364-2282, or visit www.gublers.com.