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More Orchids, Forgive Me.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Part of growing orchids is the bragging rights. I first became aware of orchids as a young kid, maybe 8 or 9. A couple of the women who lived in our neighborhood in Richmond, Virginia had greenhouses, and they grew orchids. I remember going over to their houses--haunting them, actually, and having them show me the orchids in bloom. One of the ladies, Mrs. Hunter, was a smoker. She couldn't tell which of her orchids were fragrant, and I delighted in trying to describe their exotic and mysterious scents to her. Mrs. Cook had tons of orchids. They all looked alike to me--leathery, ovate-leaved plants mounted on bark. And yet when they bloomed...rapture. I remember thinking you had to wait an awfully long time for them to bloom, if they only bloomed once or twice a year. What I didn't know is that orchid flowers last for weeks, even months! And that the anticipation of the next bloom is part of the whole delicious package. I get it now, so completely.
Laeliocattleya "Robert Strait" is just finishing up now. Shila gave it to me for my birthday last summer. It was a big, sprawling plant that needed a little TLC, but she assured me that the grower told her it was fabulous. Oh, boy, is it fabulous!!It budded while we were in Guatemala in February and burst open soon thereafter. Think about that--flowers, 4" across, that last two months, and emanate the most delicious spicy scent all day long for the entire time. Yes. It makes buying cut flowers look so...pointless. The cattleyas aren't even that long-lasting, by orchid standards.
Phalaenopsis, or moth orchids, are ridiculously long-lasting. Three, four, six months in continuous bloom. Some of the smaller, more leathery-flowered ones can be in bloom for a whole year. This is one that I got as a tiny baby from Shila about five years ago. It's mature now, and giving everything it's got. It'll only get better the older it gets, with multiple spikes, each of them branched. Whatta plant. Liza Lee, these are the easy orchids you can get at home improvement stores.
One of my very favorite phalaenopsis plants is "Lava Glow," a small-flowered and very willing creature. This one has more than 30 flowers on it at once. Though I got mine from a grower at an orchid show, I saw this variety at a Lowe's once. Grab it if you see it!
The lip is molten magenta and fire orange. Rapture.

I am a firm believer in total beauty inundation. This congress of Paphiopedalums oversees my kitchen activity every evening. They make me smile, even laugh, to look at them, nodding wise heads over steaming sinks full of dishwater. Especially the little character with the Flying Nun hat on the far right. Make no mistake, they love the humidity associated with my cooking and washing. These exotic lady slipper orchids are terrestrial-growing, and they hail from places like Borneo. Quite aside from their beauty and novelty, I like the thought of having (captive-bred) Bornean ladyslippers on my rural Ohio kitchen windowsill. If it's possible, why not??


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