TERRY Bird maintains that his extensive orchid collection isn't an obsession.
"They do require a lot of your attention though," he said.
The president of the Maclean and District Orchid Society said his involvement with orchids began on a trip to New Guinea in the 80s with his wife Penny, and when they came back home to Mona Vale there was a local orchid show on.
"So it was all orchids, orchids - a bit of a sign I guess," he said.
"We've been growing orchids ever since."
The pair moved into the Maclean area in 1999, and joined the Maclean and District Orchid Society, with Terry taking over the presidency of the club for the past four years.
Both Terry and Penny are trained orchid judges, and Terry says to grow orchids for exhibition is a life's work.
"You have to study, and for some they can be completely hooked on it," he said.
"Some say that collecting orchids is a disease."
So it may be just a little obsessive.
Terry and Penny said their continuing work with orchids is a product of a collector's lifestyle.
"We didn't have any children, so we just collect things," Penny said.
"First there was dogs, and birds, and then it moved to fuchsias, then azaleas and now it's orchids."
As for what makes a good orchid among the 40,000 species, Terry says the shape of the petals and flowers, and the way it sits up are all important.
"But that mostly comes down to the breed, and the way they've been bred," he said.
"But I don't do breeding. Breeding is another ten years and a lab - I'm not into that."
And while the names of the orchids are enough to scare the average gardener, Terry insists the best way for people to learn is to come and join the meeting.
"We have question and answer time, people bring along plants, and you'd be amazed how many people have a few orchids," Terry said.
"And when we have our autumn show, the next of which is at the Maclean Bowling Club is on April 29-30 we can sell over 500 plants."
And while having a life partner who is equally excited about a life dominated by orchids, Terry said they like to balance it out with trips away.
"Though we tend to go to orchid places," he said.