Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Growing Orchids with the Experts

Orchid growing is not for the fainthearted. So I have the greatest respect for people like Sandy Gibson who grow from seed. The seedlings above are grown in a sterile environment in flasks until they are ready to face the new world. It is a very time consuming business and you are not guaranteed to harvest every seed. A single cattleya seed can take up to a year to get to a viable stage in the flask. Breeding orchids is like any other lining. It is the crossing of plants for the purpose of isolating the best genes. Sandy has been doing this since the 70's and he has documented every cross. It is all recorded in ledgers like below. All neatly dated and referenced.

This is our famous Cedros Bee (Oncidium lanceanum) which was indigenous to the Cedros Peninsula in Trinidad. It is also found throughout the Guyanas. It has been heavily harvested with the most damage being done when thousands were pulled out to be shipped to the States when the American troops were here during WWII. It is an absolutely beautiful flower. My mother always called every Oncidium a Cedros Bee so I was quite shocked and very impressed when I first came face-to-face with this beauty. The one below has been carefully bred by Sandy and is about a fourth-generation plant hence its sturdy shape and excellent colour.
The Asco. below is not remarkable for it pedigree but I loved it all the same.
The orchid below is Colmanara Wildcat and it does have a kind of jaguar-ish feel about it.
The one below is one of my favourites. It reminds me of birthday confetti. It is known as Epidendrum stanfordianum and it actually frilly.Don't be confused by the shy look of this orchid. He's a big gun. This is Caularthron bicornutum "Galeota". He is what we know commonly as the Virgin Orchid but he is not white, but pink! And all his seeds have bred white. So more respect to you Mr. Galeota. Perhaps there are more of you in the Galeota forest but chances are that I will never see them so it is a privilige to meet you.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Flower Power

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Montpelier Inn Nevis

There are some places in the world that are very magical.
Montpelier Plantation Inn in Nevis is my magical spot

I love Nevis. And they are in real trouble with the tourism economy being hit very hard. The Four Seasons Hotel, which was the bread basket of the island, was damaged in last year's hurricane and has remained shut for renovations ever since. The result is a country with lots of people out of work. If you choose to go here for Easter, I wish I could come in your pocket.

This is the spot (well roughly) that Horatio Nelson married Fannie Nisbett. Big wedding in the seventeenth century. I like to imagine that some of the trees who witnessed this union are still standing today. The excitement, the bride, the good wishes must be branded on this spot.

These photos are slightly overexposed but they suit my mood for this place. Dreamy and out of focus.

I quote this from the website : http://www.poppyland.co.uk/nelacts/letters/lett2.htm

From Nelson to his Fiancee
"Boreas," English Harbour, August 19th, 1786
My Dearest Fanny,

Having seen in this day's newspaper, that a vessel cleared out from St. John's to Nevis a few days ago, I feel vexed not to have had a letter in the office for you: however, if I can help it, I will not be behindhand again. To write letters to you is the next greatest pleasure I feel to receiving them from you. What I experience when I read such as I am sure are the pure sentiments of your hear, my poor pen cannot express, nor indeed would I give much for any pen or head that could describe feelings of that kind: they are worth but little when that can happen. My heart yearns to you - it is with you; my mind dwells upon nought else but you. Absent from you, I feel no pleasure: it is you, my dearest Fanny, who are everything to me. Without you, I care not for this world; for I have found lately nothing in it but vexation and trouble.
These, you are well convinced, are my present sentiments; God Almighty grant they may never change. Nor do I think they will: indeed there is, as far as human knowledge can judge, a moral certainty they cannot; for it must be real affection that brings together, not interest or compulsion, which make so many unhappy.
Your most affectionate


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Scary LIzard

I am really afraid of lizards. I would probably drop like a stone if I came face to face with this beauty in the confines of a room. But they fascinate me with their colours and reptilian noses and ears. The colours on this one were particularly lovely and his pink mouth is almost scandolous in its pink-ness. Godspeed Lizard. Just not in my path
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More Lizard

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