12 October 2008

The Orchidhunter at the Denver orchid show

I made my way to Arvada on a rainy, colourless Saturday morning. The grey day held tropical promise, though: the Fall Show of the Denver Orchid Society. Traditionally held at the Denver Botanic Gardens, the show was moved to Echter's Garden Center this time around because of construction. But what a show! I'd love to share some of my photographs with you.

The theme for this season's show was Picture Perfect Orchids. The organizers and exhibitors put in a lot of effort to get their displays looking great, with artful use of picture frames and actual orchid art, from local artists to prints of famous works by
Martin Johnson Heade.

I must admit that I was disappointed by the small amount of species orchids on display. To be fair, Colorado orchid growers face particular challenges - such as the altitude and the climate- that growers in warmer, wetter areas need never worry about. The abundance of beautiful hybrid orchids shown more than made up for this; and the species that were on display were of exceptional quality and were kinds not often seen. The substance and colours of the flowers and the immaculate condition and vigor of the plants proves that Colorado growers can beat the odds and compete with the best.

A table of breathtaking Vandas caught my eye immediately. This Vanda Robert's Delight 'Garnet' won a red 2nd place ribbon. It's obvious why. Those flowers are as big as my hands!

This is one of the most beautiful examples of Vanda Rothschildiana I've ever seen. The coloration is just superb. It's a classic old hybrid between the Indian Vanda coerulea and Euanthe sanderiana from the Philippines. This rightly received a blue 1st place ribbon and the award for Best Flowers in its class.

Shows are a great place to see some of the bizarre things found in the orchid family. Bulbophyllums excel at being weird. This is Bulbophyllum Jersey, a lovely cross between B. lobii and B. echinolabium which marries the best features of both parents.

Resembling a hard-boiled quail egg nestling on a patterned saucer, Paphiopedilum (wenshanense X godefroyae) was a joy to behold. It received a 1st prize ribbon, as well as the award for best flower in its class.

The best Cattleya was this delightful miniature: Sophrocattleya Mini Purple 'Candy Tuft'. Good shape, waxy substance, perfect symmetry, heady fragrance... I could clearly understand why the judges chose this as recipient of the Ed Horton Memorial Award for best flower in the Cattleya alliance. May I have a division of it, please?

This was one of my favourite things on show: Cycnoches chlorochilon. Also known as the green-lipped swan orchid, this species has a subtle, understated elegance. It is usually found in hot South American forests, from Panama to Venezuela. Not only do the flowers smell kind of like banana popsicles, but Cycnoches are also some of the few orchids to have separate male and female flowers, which are totally different in appearance. These are male flowers: if you look closely, some dislodged pollen is visible, stuck to the right petal of the middle flower.

I had a most enjoyable afternoon, inspecting the myriad of blossoms on display, and talking to some of the growers. I took way too many photographs to showcase them all here. If I've whetted your appetite for more, please visit my Flickr photo set for the rest of them and some pictures from orchid shows past. If you'd like to find out more about the Denver Orchid Society, visit their
web page, or go to one of their monthly meetings.


morbidneko said...

Those are beautiful, Hunter.

I especially liked the purple ones and the yellow ones. I can't imagine a flower smelling like bananas... but, I suppose it's possible.

I will certainly make an effort to get my husband to take me to the Orchid house here in Bloem. I think a picnic is in order. ^_^

(Especially with the heat wave we are experiencing now!)

Anonymous said...

They're such fascinating creatures. One can stare into them for hours.

Shimmerrings said...

I like the Vanda Rothschildiana the best... superb!

Angela said...

Well, my favorite kept chaning as I scrolled through your post. Absolutely gorgeous. I think I've decided on that cream and brown looking one (how's that for a scientific description?). I don't know if I've directed you to my new blog:

*dalyn said...

you should start telling people on your blog that these beauties are from your own personal collection... imagine the praise! great post as usual! *d

Wendy said...

Wow Bulbophyllum Jersey is really strange but I like it!

Aine said...

Nice photos! I'm having a hard time imagining the size of the Vanda Robert's Delight 'Garnet'. That must've been striking!

I agree with Jason's description of them as creatures. As I look at each photo, I imagine them coming to life and dancing in a Fantasia-esque drama. They are so exotic...

Chris Eldin said...

Those pictures are breathtaking! What a smart career choice-to surround yourself by beauty...

Andrew said...

Great pictures, really good variety at the show too.