September 19, 2006

Fall = Orchids not Mums

You all know how I feel about bushel basket mums the size of dairy cows, all hormoned-up and perfectly perfect in every way. These Mary Poppin's of the Chrysanthemum world are unfortunately ubiquituos at farm stands and North American nurseries this time of year. But what did gardeners do before these beasts come along?

Well, first, we did grow Crysanthemums, of course, but not these mounds we know now as "garden mums'. I will write this weekend and show the mums that I am growing, but that are now sadly not only difficult to find, but are only carried by a few, if not two, plant suppliers. My trips to Japan have converted me to many Japanese techniques that have never been completely understood in the West, and the art of Chrysanthemum culture has been another passion that I have bee trying to perfect here in the states. The are still budding up, so I will show my Asian mum collection, later. Besides, they don't really bloom until late October, and have just had thier last pinching. These include cascading mums, tall standard spiders and many fancy anemone types. But more later....because this is also the season for many orchids, especially these rare Pahiopedilus species from Borneo like P. rothchildianum, P. sanderianum and other Paph species (not the plastic hybrids that one sees more commonly) but these, some of the rarest and most sought-after orchids in the world.

Most Paphs with these long tepals grow only on the Island of Borneo, on Mount Kinabalu. Of course, Pahhs grow all over South East Asia, but I am only showing the Paphs from this particualr cloud forest since they have a type of blossom and character that I, as a designer and botanist, find most appealing and fascinating. Here, I jsut combined them with some unusual species begonia plants, as well as a tropical shrub with equally similar blossoms, for a cover photo-comp for a book idea that I have of rare plants.

In the greenhosue, a laeliacatleya explodes into bloom with 23 blossoms. Not fragrant, but certainly delightful, this plant actually surprised me, and I suppose, if I was an 'orchid freak", which I am not, I would bother to take it to a local orchid show to get points awarded to it (something that the American ORchid Society does, in order to rank species and crosses - those are the letters one sees after an orchid name in some catalogs, like AAS, or Catleys Blah blah blah CCP, Certificate of Cultural Perfection, or whatever -sorry orchid fans.... whatever).

Chores pervail. Washing pots is something that I HATE!. Especially with my busy work schedule. SInce I am not a gardener by trade, but a creative director for a corporation, I really only get about a few hours a week to garden.....so washing pots is not something that I look froward to. Making pots? yeah, I look forward to anytime I can get a the wheel in my pottery studio, which too, is rare, but washing them, no. But it needs to be done, and the warm weather this week allows me to take many of the pots not being used and scrub them in a 10% bleach solution and air-dry them in the sun. Now they are ready to be used in the greenhouse with the upcoming rush of relocating the collections in for the winter.

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