30 May 2007

The orchidhunter catches orchid fever at ONT2007

The Orchid Society of Northern Transvaal had another spectacular annual show at the Safari Garden Centre in Pretoria. The theme for this year's exhibit was Orchids in the Jungle, with beautifully natural displays replacing the gaudy prop-based excesses of previous endeavours. Despite the freezing cold and the absence of Van Rooyen Orchids, one of the main players on the South African orchid scene, the show was packed with lots to see and learn. And lots to buy as well, of course. On with the photographs:
The main display consisted of the broken wing and propeller of a derelict plane festooned with colourful epiphytes - an eerie prediction of what will eventually happen to the wreck of the Kenya Airways Boeing 737-800 in the jungles of Cameroon, perhaps?

The display of award-winning plants featured some truly astonishing orchids. Apart from a perfectly grown Paphiopedilum insigne (bottom left) and a spotless Angraecum eburneum (far right) it featured the show's Grand Champion:

Degarmoara Skywalker 'HQ Sport' is a multigeneric hybrid grown by Plantae Nursery and sported three inflorescences of truly huge, flat mulberry flowers - an intimidating sight for any orchid grower and truly deserving of its accolade.

Reserve champion was this exceptionally well-flowered example of Sophronitis coccinea. Literally covered with flowers on all sides, this specimen reflected the patient nurturing of its owner.

This striking miniature orchid is called Dendrobium petiolatum and received a Class Winner ribbon. This was the first time I had ever seen this particular Dendrobium species - quite a thrill.

Many displays showed a lot of creativity in design this year. Blossoms from Vandas and hardcane Dendrobiums floated in three sensual saucers of water in one minimalist display; another employed Cymbidiums, hardcane Dendrobium cut flowers and giant bamboo in an enormous Zen display suggestive of Japanese ikebana.

However, the award for best display went to this tiered display of Cattleya and Phalaenopsis hybrids from Marvilous Orchids [sic] complete with chinoiserie and Engrish name card.

Rarely noticed, the back of an orchid flower also has a beauty all its own. The twisting grooved stalk of this pink Vanda is actually the ovary, which swells to form the seed pod once pollination has occurred. The twisting is responsible for resupination, a phenomenon that ensures that the lip of the orchid is always lowermost.

There was also a stand dedicated to the South African Cake Decorators Guild - curiously, I couldn't find any orchids among their many examples of floral sugarcraft. I thought the lady's coat and mobile phone pouch combination were quite arresting though, and simply had to include a picture of it here.

Back to the orchids. This was my absolute favourite thing on show. It is called Schomburgkia splendida and hails from Colombia and northwestern Ecuador. It has unique bright pink bracts at the bases of its ten centimetre waxy brown flowers. Yummy. I covet.

I spotted these young orchidologists in the crowd. The one was even carrying a little notebook! A lot of people are starting to come to the orchid shows as a family outing, with children enthusiastically pointing out curiosities of the vegetable kingdom to their mums and dads.

This well grown Sophronitis cernua glowed like a jewel from its bark mount, garnering a 2nd prize ribbon from the judging panel.

I'm not really a fan of Paphiopedilums (I'm more a Phragmipedium person), but there were several on display. This collection of vinicolor hybrids and dark species elicited many oohs and aahs. The reason why is beyond me, I'm afraid. I didn't even take a photograph of the display of bullfrog Paph hybrids, although it was probably the most popular display of the whole show...

Lastly, I'd like to leave you with a special plant. This is a primary hybrid, a cross between the two Brazilian species Laelia sincorana and Laelia lobata. It had three large pink blossoms showing characteristics of both its parents. Apart from the ubiquitous Laelia anceps, this was the probably the only purebred Laelia on show this year. The judging panel thought it unusual and of sufficient quality to award it a red 1st prize ribbon. And who would the owner of this prize winning orchid be, you may ask? Why, that would be me.


AristoNeeks said...

Congratulations, EOH!!

Is there some sort of monetary prize that goes with the ribbon?

or, is beauty its own reward.

those are gorgeous..

Unknown said...

Thank you. No money, I'm afraid, just kudo's to me.

DJ Kirkby said...

Completely stunning pictures....

mike said...

Wow, what absolutely beautiful pics... and congrats on your prize :)

Loving the old lady picture!

twanji said...

I know you were in heaven. Congratulations!

Wendy said...

So are you still going to do the orchid thing in the States? And then leave them behind when you come home?