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.