Rescuing a Delicious Australian Orchid

Posted December 7th, 2019 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Conservation, Fragrant Orchids, In the News

The Sydney Morning Herald reports on saving the Sunshine Diuris, a rare and delicious Australian orchid species. Diuris fragrantissima is also known as Snow in the Paddocks. Once common in grasslands around Melbourne, this species’ tubers were a favorite food source for Aboriginal peoples. It was so plentiful that European settlers picked its flowers by the armfuls for its sweet fragrance. But then habitat destruction, urbanization, and livestock grazing reduced its vast populations, until it was feared to be extinct. Fortunately a small patch survived, and was fenced off for protection. Now, scientists are using lab-grown plants to reestablish wild populations. Ecologist John Bradford, who is one of the people working to save the Sunshine Diuris, says that the orchid is a link with past landscapes and past peoples. “It’s a link, too, with the people who have cared for this place over the past 60 years. We pushed back against a billion-dollar project. Some things are more important than money.”

December Orchid Events

Posted December 1st, 2019 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Botanical Gardens, Events

This is always the slowest month of the year for orchid events, but you can still find activities on several continents listed below. Many orchid societies have holiday parties and auctions, so check with your local group for more.

December 3
St. Augustine Orchid Society Christmas Auction, Memorial Lutheran Church, 3375 US 1 South, St. Augustine, Florida
December 6 – 7
Expo-Orquídeas, Club Ancash, Av. Horacio Urteaga 660, Jesus María, Lima, Peru
December 6 – 8
Exposition Internationale d’Orchidées, Les Antilles de Jonzac, Parc du Val de Seugne, Jonzac, France
December 6 – 8
Exposição Nacional de Orquídeas de Londrina, Salão da Sociedade São Vicente de Paulo, Av. Madre Leonia Milito, 499, Centro, Londrina, Paraná, Brazil
December 6 – 8
Exposição Nacional de Orquídeas de Varginha, Corredor Cultural, Praça Matheus Tavares, Centro, Varginha, Minas Gerais, Brazil
December 7
Mid-Lakes Orchid Society Auction, Rogers Park, 610 S. 9th St., Leesburg, Florida
December 7 – 8
Expo-Venta Orquídeas, Jardín Etnobotánico Francisco Peláez R., 2 Sur No. 1700, San Andrés Cholula, Puebla, Mexico
December 7 – 8
Exposição Nacional de Orquídeas de São Bernardo do Campo, DAJUV, Av. Redenção, 271, Centro, São Bernardo do Campo, São Paulo, Brazil
December 11
Royal Horticultural Society Orchid Committee Show, RHS Halls, Vincent Square, London, UK
December 13 – 15
Feira de Orquídeas, Salão Paroquial da Catedral de São José, Centro, Ituiutaba, Minas Gerais, Brazil
December 18
Golden Gate Cymbidium Society Auction & Holiday Potluck Dinner, Lakeside Park Garden Center, 666 Bellevue Ave., Oakland, California
December 21
Northeast Judging Center Orchid Auction, Frelinghuysen Arboretum, 353 E. Hanover Ave., Morris Township, New Jersey

More from Singapore’s National Orchid Garden

Posted November 29th, 2019 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Botanical Gardens, Photos, Warm Growers

Papilionanda Hall of Fame, Vanda orchid hybrid flower, Singapore National Orchid Garden located in Singapore Botanic GardensDendrobium orchid hybrid flowers, Den-phals, purple and white flowers, Singapore National Orchid Garden located in Singapore Botanic GardensVanda orchid hybrid flower, Singapore National Orchid Garden located in Singapore Botanic Gardens

Possibly a Trichocentrum orchid flower, Singapore National Orchid Garden located in Singapore Botanic GardensRenanthera Kalsom, orchid hybrid flowers, red flowers, Singapore National Orchid Garden located in Singapore Botanic GardensCattleya orchid flower, Singapore National Orchid Garden located in Singapore Botanic Gardens

One post from Singapore’s National Orchid Garden certainly wasn’t enough, and here are more photos to prove it. With so many brilliant, tropical varieties growing outdoors in the sunshine, Dave took lots of amazing pictures. Colorful Vandas, Dendrobiums, Cattleyas, and Renantheras all competed for his attention.

Dendrobium Sri Siam, orchid hybrid flowers, Singapore National Orchid Garden located in Singapore Botanic GardensAranda Christine, orchid hybrid flower, Singapore National Orchid Garden located in Singapore Botanic GardensAranda Nancy, orchid hybrid flower, Singapore National Orchid Garden located in Singapore Botanic Gardens

Aranda Noorah Alsagoff, orchid hybrid flowers, Singapore National Orchid Garden located in Singapore Botanic GardensDendrobium orchid hybrid flowers, Singapore National Orchid Garden located in Singapore Botanic GardensVanda orchid flower, white flower, Singapore National Orchid Garden located in Singapore Botanic Gardens

The blooms include many historic hybrids. Some have won awards and become important in the cut-flower trade. Others have been named for world leaders and celebrities. These human-made crosses have helped Singapore create a successful orchid industry. The plants continue to be used to parent new hybrids, with the most exceptional results brought to the public. Singapore’s clear mastery of the art and science of orchids shines at the National Orchid Garden.

Phalaenopsis orchid hybrid flowers, Phals, Moth Orchids, massed flower display, white flowers, Singapore National Orchid Garden located in Singapore Botanic GardensVanda orchid hybrid flower, Singapore National Orchid Garden located in Singapore Botanic GardensAranda Khaw Phaik Suan, Vanda orchid hybrid flowers, orange flowers, Singapore National Orchid Garden located in Singapore Botanic Gardens

Orchids Thrive in Singapore’s HortPark

Posted November 23rd, 2019 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Photos, Warm Growers

Myrmecophila orchid flower, AKA Schomburgkia, HortPark-the Gardening Hub, horticulture park, SingaporeDendrobium strebloceras, orchid species flower, antelope dendrobium, HortPark-the Gardening Hub, horticulture park, SingaporeArundina graminifolia, Bamboo Orchid, orchid species flower, HortPark-the Gardening Hub, horticulture park, Singapore

Arachnis Maggie Oei, orchid hybrid flower, HortPark-the Gardening Hub, horticulture park, SingaporeVanda flowers, orchid flowers and leaves, HortPark-the Gardening Hub, horticulture park, SingaporeMayara Mandai Ruby, orchid hybrid flowers, HortPark-the Gardening Hub, horticulture park, Singapore

Orchids are all over the place in Singapore. The National Orchid Garden, Singapore Botanic Gardens, Cloud Forest Conservatory, Flower Dome Conservatory, and Supertrees are packed with them. Dave even found orchids when he wasn’t expecting them, like at HortPark, one of Singapore’s lesser known green spaces. It’s two blocks from the office where he was working, and he stumbled on it near his subway stop. With Vandas, Moth Orchids, Dendrobiums, Bamboo Orchids, and more, it’s home to lots of stunning tropical beauties growing outdoors.

Phalaenopsis, Phal, Moth Orchid flower, HortPark-the Gardening Hub, horticulture park, SingaporeDendrobium orchid flowers, HortPark-the Gardening Hub, horticulture park, SingaporeVanda orchid flowers, HortPark-the Gardening Hub, horticulture park, Singapore

The 24.7 acre (10 hectare) HortPark has more than orchids. The last five photos in this post show some other plants on display, like a snow-white hibiscus, black bamboo, and a colorful heliconia. HortPark has native plants, theme gardens, children’s gardens, and more. All are organized to encourage gardening, and to teach good planting practices. Admission to the park is free. It’s probably not on many tourist maps, but Singapore’s HortPark is a great orchid destination.

Phalaenopsis, Phal, Moth Orchid flowers, HortPark-the Gardening Hub, horticulture park, SingaporeBlue flowers, HortPark-the Gardening Hub, horticulture park, SingaporeWhite hibiscus flower, HortPark-the Gardening Hub, horticulture park, Singapore

Heliconia flowers, HortPark-the Gardening Hub, horticulture park, SingaporeBlack bamboo stalks and leaves, HortPark-the Gardening Hub, horticulture park, SingaporeRed flowers, HortPark-the Gardening Hub, horticulture park, Singapore

Orchids at the Center of Cloud Forest Conservation in Ecuador

Posted November 17th, 2019 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Conservation, In the News

Tune in to In Defense of Plants for an orchid conservation success story. Lou Jost has worked to protect cloud forests in orchid-rich Ecuador for decades, and has helped to create seven nature reserves. The reserves are essential habitats for many endangered plants and animals, including fascinating pleurothallid orchids, like Masdevallias, Draculas, and Stelis. If you’re inspired to help his efforts, you can donate to the Orchid Conservation Alliance and Fundación EcoMinga. Funds are needed for daily operations, maintenance, security, and to buy more land for reserves.

Singapore’s Supertrees Are Full of Orchids

Posted November 12th, 2019 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Photos, Warm Growers

Supertrees, Supertree Grove, vertical gardens, Gardens by the Bay Nature Park, SingaporeSupertree, Supertree photo taken from Skyway raised pedestrian walkway, vertical gardens, Gardens by the Bay Nature Park, SingaporeVanda hybrid orchid flowers growing on a Supertree, Gardens by the Bay Nature Park, Singapore

Ionopsis orchid flowers growing on a Supertree, Gardens by the Bay Nature Park, SingaporeCattleya orchid hybrid flowers growing on a Supertree, red and orange flowers, Gardens by the Bay Nature Park, SingaporeClose-up of bromeliad fern and orchid plants growing on a Supertree, vertical gardens, Gardens by the Bay Nature Park, Singapore

The island nation of Singapore has a grove of trees unlike any others in the world, the Supertrees. These tall, human-made structures are covered with air plants, or epiphytes, like orchids, bromeliads, and ferns. They’re superb examples of how to incorporate orchids into vertical gardens. Planting beds around the bases of the Supertrees also feature lots of orchids, including some impressively large specimens.

Supertrees lit in different colors at night, Supertree Grove, vertical gardens, Gardens by the Bay Nature Park, SingaporeRenanthera orchid flowers growing at the base of a Supertree, red flowers, Gardens by the Bay Nature Park, SingaporeGrammatophyllum orchid flowers blooming on a Supertree, Gardens by the Bay Nature Park, Singapore

Vanda hybrid orchid flowers growing on a Supertree, Gardens by the Bay Nature Park, SingaporeVanda orchid flowers blooming at the base of a Supertree, orchid flowers and leaves, Gardens by the Bay Nature Park, SingaporeOrchid bromeliads and ferns growing on a Supertree, looking up at a Supertree from ground level, Gardens by the Bay Nature Park, Singapore
Varieties on display include tropical beauties like Vandas, Renantheras, Cattleyas, Grammatophyllums, Dendrobiums, and even Vanilla vines. The Supertrees range in height from 82 ft. (25 m) to 164 ft. (50 m.) There are 18 of them within the Gardens by the Bay nature park, each covered with thousands of plants around concrete and steel cores. In addition to their green space, the Supertrees provide shade, hold solar cells to run their lights, collect rainwater, and serve as air intake and exhaust systems for the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest conservatories. A raised pedestrian path connects them and offers panoramic views. The colorful displays continue at night with brilliant light shows. Don’t miss these unique, orchid-laden trees if you’re in Singapore.

Supertrees and raised pedestrian Skyway, Supertree Grove, vertical gardens, Gardens by the Bay Nature Park, SingaporeCymbidium orchid flowers blooming on a Supertree, yellow flowers, Gardens by the Bay Nature Park, SingaporeCattleya orchid hybrid flowers growing at the base of a Supertree, Gardens by the Bay Nature Park, Singapore

Dragon Discovery: The Dracula Smaug Orchid

Posted November 6th, 2019 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Cool Growers, In the News, Videos

RBG Kew reports on Dracula smaug, a newly discovered orchid. This orchid isn’t named after the vampire legend; “Dracula” means “little dragon” in Latin, and “Smaug” is the name of the fire-breathing dragon from JRR Tolkien’s classic, The Hobbit. The species was discovered in cloud forests of northwestern Ecuador, near the Colombian border. Even though this Masdevallia relative with strange orange flowers has been given a fearsome name, it’s no danger to anyone. In fact, humans are a danger to it, since habitat destruction and removal of wild plants threaten it and many other species in this rich jungle.

Don’t miss the video below from the same article, offering a brief glimpse into Kew’s Tropical Orchid Nursery. There are extraordinary orchids from the Colombian cloud forest, including other types of Draculas.

November Orchid Events

Posted November 1st, 2019 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Botanical Gardens, Events

People love orchids all over the planet, evidenced by these long, monthly lists of events. Don’t miss these chances to enjoy lots of stunning blooms.

November 1 – 2
Nambour Orchid Society Species Show, Uniting Church Hall, Coronation Ave., Nambour, Queensland, Australia
November 1 – 2
Sapphire Coast Orchid Club Native Show, Twyford Hall, Market St., Merimbula, NSW, Australia
November 1 – 3
Expo Orquídea, Ex Hacienda de Temixco Parque Acuático, México 95 km 85, Centro, Temixco, Morelos, Mexico
November 1 – 3
Orchideen und Wein, Autalhalle, Niedernhausen, Germany
November 2
Wraysbury Orchid Show, Wraysbury Village Hall, The Green, Wraysbury, Staines, UK
November 2
Hawke’s Bay Orchid Society Sarcochilus Show, Taradale Town Hall, 8 Meeanee Rd., Napier, New Zealand
November 2 – 3
Kansas Orchid Society Fall Show & Sale, Botanica, The Wichita Gardens, 701 Amidon St., Wichita, Kansas
November 2 – 3
Utah Orchid Society Show, Red Butte Gardens, 303 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City, Utah
November 2 – 3
North Shore Orchid Society Sarcochilus & Other Orchids Show, St. Anne’s Hall, 756 Beach Rd., Browns Bay, New Zealand
November 2 – 3
North Moreton Orchid Council Summer Show, Brisbane Botanic Gardens Auditorium, Mt. Coot-Tha Rd., Toowong, Queensland, Australia

Read the rest of this post »

It’s Always Springtime in Singapore’s Flower Dome

Posted October 27th, 2019 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Botanical Gardens, Photos

Dendrobium orchid flower, antelope Dendrobium with twisted petals like horns, Flower Dome Conservatory, Gardens by the Bay nature park, SingaporeVanda orchid flower, Aranda hybrid, Flower Dome Conservatory, Gardens by the Bay nature park, SingaporeMasses of Moth Orchid flowers, Phals, Phalaenopsis hybrids, Flower Dome Conservatory, Gardens by the Bay nature park, Singapore

Nighttime view of Supertrees lit with blue lights, Flower Dome Conservatory, & Cloud Forest Conservatory, Gardens by the Bay nature park, SingaporeTrees, flowers, and pathway in Flower Dome Conservatory, Gardens by the Bay nature park, SingaporeRed flowers, Flower Dome Conservatory, Gardens by the Bay nature park, Singapore

Dave’s work schedule only permitted him a couple days to play tourist in Singapore, but he really saw a lot. He was able to enjoy the stunning Singapore Botanic Gardens, including the National Orchid Garden. He also toured the Cloud Forest Conservatory. In addition to all that, he took lots of photos in the Flower Dome, an enormous greenhouse next to the Cloud Forest Conservatory. One of the pictures above shows a nighttime view of the Flower Dome on the left and Cloud Forest on the right, with the Supertrees lit in blue. They all help make Singapore a “City in a Garden.”

Dahlia flower, Flower Dome Conservatory, Gardens by the Bay nature park, SingaporeCactus, Flower Dome Conservatory, Gardens by the Bay nature park, SingaporeSmall succulent plants, Flower Dome Conservatory, Gardens by the Bay nature park, Singapore

Trees and pathway in Flower Dome Conservatory, Gardens by the Bay nature park, SingaporeClematis flower and buds, fuchsia flowers, Flower Dome Conservatory, Gardens by the Bay nature park, SingaporePink flowers with silver leaves, Flower Dome Conservatory, Gardens by the Bay nature park, Singapore

The Flower Dome is all about blooms. It features nine different gardens which showcase plants from around the globe, emphasizing cool, arid climates. The Flower Field display in the middle includes lots of great tropical orchids. There are also cacti, succulents, trees, and much more.  The Flower Dome is the largest columnless glasshouse in the world. The building is designed to be energy efficient and collect rainwater. Water recirculates to keep the temperature cool, and create an oasis of perpetual springtime.

Trees in the Flower Dome Conservatory, Gardens by the Bay nature park, SingaporePlant with curly leaves, Flower Dome Conservatory, Gardens by the Bay nature park, SingaporeTrees and other plants, flowers, pathway with people, Flower Dome Conservatory, Gardens by the Bay nature park, Singapore

Edmond Albius: The Boy Who Revolutionized the Vanilla Industry

Posted October 20th, 2019 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Fragrant Orchids, In the News, Misc, Warm Growers

The modern vanilla industry owes its existence to a young enslaved African, Edmond Albius. Vanilla vines had been imported from Mexican jungles to the tiny French colony of Réunion, in the Indian Ocean near Madagascar. But without their Mexican bee pollinators, nobody could figure out how to produce vanilla beans. In 1841, Edmond Albius, then an enslaved 12 year old, figured it out. He adapted a method for hand-pollinating watermelon plants to work for vanilla orchid flowers. The plantation where he was enslaved sent him around the island to teach others. By the late 1800’s, Réunion was producing more vanilla beans than all of Mexico. Sadly, Albius never shared in the wealth he brought to this little island.

In 1848, France finally freed its enslaved population. The 19 year old Albius did menial work, and found a job in a kitchen, but was jailed after a crime. Fortunately, some prominent officials intervened on his behalf, citing his important discovery, and he was released early. He continued his life in poverty, dying at 51 in 1880. Over the years, several have tried to discredit him, but there’s much evidence to prove that it was young Albius who found the solution. The French established successful vanilla plantations in their tropical colonies. Madagascar, a former French colony, now produces most of the world’s vanilla beans. Albius’ ingenuity helped make vanilla an essential ingredient in modern foods and fragrances.