“With a few flowers in my garden, half a dozen pictures and some books, I live without envy.”
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Orchids are so endearingly odd that having acquired one you find yourself collecting more once you've disabused yourself of the notion that they are difficult to maintain.
Ours ask very little, just a high quality medium, good drainage, sufficient light and a daily misting. In return they reward us with the most enchanting and unusual blooms. This oncidium at right reminds me of a bee, which is probably no mistake. Many orchids have evolved to look suspiciously like the insects that pollinate them.
The phalaenopsis are, I suppose, the commoners of the orchid world, being the most mass-produced variety. But they are still variable enough to be exciting when they bloom. My mother-in-law has a huge white phal that I adore. Larry favors oddball varieties like the spectacled one (top left), which really is pretty.
Last year Larry surprised me a paphiopedilum for no special reason, which is always the nicest way to receive flowers. It's not blooming now like the other two shown above, which were photographed this morning. But if you're unfamiliar with paphs, they are called lady slipper orchids. I photographed the one shown left at our local arboretum. When my paph finally gets around to putting up a spike and a bloom, I'll post a picture of it. It's dark purple, and very exotic.
When this Cattleya blooms, the fragrance is just heavenly. It's one of my favorites. Now, this is last year's photo, taken by Larry. The plant was part of a collection we bought from a retired dentist and longtime orchid collector. Many weren't in bloom when we bougth them, so were were treated to a year of surprises after the purchase.
A really wonderful book is the Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean. There's a lot in there about the natural history of orchids and the colorful history of orchid collecting. But I caution you. Do not, I repeat DO NOT watch that god-awful movie Adaptation, which was based on the aforementioned book. It is such a cinematic travesty that if I were Susan Orlean I'd shoot myself just so I could roll over in my grave.