Sunday, January 30, 2011

Getting My Flower Fix at Orchid Shows

I've discovered that there isn't much I know about the mysterious flower, the orchid, other than it makes for one fantastic photo shoot. This weekend the Central Illinois Orchid Society held their annual orchid show. They had a great turn out in both plants and people. The society brought over 65 plants from their individual collections as well as educational displays, photographs, and door prizes.

Phalaenopsis 'Double Delight'

Epilaeliocattleya Don Herman
The variability in the orchid family (Orchidaceae) is tremendous.  I learned that it is thought to be the second largest plant family, and contains the plant responsible for one of our favorite flavor extracts for baking--vanilla. The American Orchid Society has educational sheets that are helpful, but only on a handful of genera. With over 850 genera documented, my hope is to learn the most common and enjoy the ones I don't know. This is how I cope from becoming overwhelmed in any field filled with terminology and potentially no labels.

Vanda Thongchai x Vanda Kasem's Delight

Classic to unique
Flower shape varied so much from species-to-species. Some flowers had large rounded petals, others strappy petals. You can find plants with multiple flowers a tight cluster all open at the same time on the end of a spike, or spread out over the length of a spike opening one at a time slowly. I am now a big fan of the following orchids types: lady slippers, the genus Vanda, and many of the fragrant varieties. On display, I found the following flower that was just a lovely coral color. Such a unique color.

Phragmipedium Don Wimber

Is there a chocolatier in the house?
In the small room where the show was the air was a delightful bounty of fragrance. It turned out that there are a number of orchids that have scents varying from the light smell of soap, to a bold odorous smell, to chocolate. Yum!

Pot. Shin Shiang 'Diamond' looks like daffodils, smells like heaven
Zygopetalum 'Blue Blazes'
Angraecum Veitchii 'White Star'
Cattlianthe Chocolate Drop 'Kodama'
Like the name suggests, it smells like chocolate.

 Blooms...blooms...blooms, that's what orchids are all about, or is it?
What the uninitiated may not know is that growing an orchid is not all about the flowers. A plant is only in bloom from a few days to two months. Sometimes they bloom longer, and worse, sometimes people don't get them to bloom at all. But having a plant not in bloom for about nine months doesn't have to be annoying like construction season. If this is your fear, I have learned that many of the orchids have especially nice leaves to save you. These can be used as center pieces or for the tiny plants, talking points.
Ludisia discolor
Dossinodes Indra's Net
also happens to be a miniature orchid

Did you see that?
I heard a lot of chatter about not having space for such plants. A few of these demonstration lovelies showed if you like unique and don't have the space for the larger plants, there is an entire industry of miniature orchids. So many people took double-takes on the miniatures. They offered a punch in a petite-sized place.
The Dendrobium peguanum plant measures in at a whopping 2"

Phalaenopsis equestris
I no longer am able to conjure up a single image to represent the orchid family. What I have learned is that I enjoyed this orchid show so much that I find myself resisting the urge to run out and buy many. I have a few plants that I might look at, but will wait until I learn a bit more. I didn't win any door prizes at this flower show, but I did leave feeling like a winner from the opportunity to photograph the flowers and talk to the society members.

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