Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Coecogyne cristata

 Coecogyne cristata
About eighteen months ago I was given this pot containing an unidentified orchid as a thankyou for doing a plant delivery. I placed it in a semi shaded spot, and, apart from the occasional watering, it hadn't received much attention. Then a week or so ago I noticed a couple of long stems hanging over the side of the pot, two streamers of flower buds. The buds were enclosed in a curious coffee stained envelope which made me think it had been sunburned or damaged by the wind. Then this 'keel' fell away and lovely fragrant white flowers emerged. It turns out to be a cool climate epiphytic orchid from the Himalayas and a 'good variety for beginners' which is just my ticket. Apparently it flowers when winter snow is melting and can tolerate quite a wide range of climates, being popular as a houseplant in Europe for that reason. In Germany it goes by the name of schneekonigin or 'snow queen' which makes it sound like a brand of ice-cream.
While I am not about to bitten by the orchid collecting bug, it is nice to have a few varieties in the garden as part of the spring flower scene especially as they demand so little attention to make them look fabulous.
 I don't have any 'how to grow orchids' books but I can recommend these two as good 'who-done-it' adventure style mystery books on the subject. Susan Orlean's funny and sad The Orchid Thief was made into the terrific movie Adaptation which had Meryl Streep playing journalist Orlean and is a must see for anyone who collects plants or who runs a plant Nursery.

Eric Hansen's Orchid Fever is a real eye-opener into the bureaucratic world of 'CITES' plant conservation/protection and the obsessive world of plant collectors who pay big dollars for the truly rare and exotic.

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