January 11, 2009

Getting Buff for the New Year

Cymbidium 'Massachusetts Sunset'

Color is a curious thing. It can be so universally beautiful, collectively agreed upon shades of tints and tones which everyone loves. Then, there are those of us who are more individual. Who prefer unusual shades which either surprise us, shock us or simply, stimulate us in some way. And so it is, with shades of buff.

Currently, in my greenhouse two plants in particular are blooming, each in a similar hue, that of buff. Or beige, or is it brown? Either way, I think the color is exciting, and quite pretty actually. The first, a new hybrid Cymbidium which we purchased this autumn at our local Orchid society annual show, ( at Tower Hill Botanic garden, in Boylston, MA), a Cymbidium cross which we spotted under a salesmans table, in bud. He sold us that it was a new cross entitled 'Massachusetts Sunset' or 'Mass Sunset" as the tag reads. I don't know too much about it, perhaps I shall Google it and find out, but regardless, it has now bloomed and I am including a few photos here which show how different the color looks during different times of day, and the light in which it is photographed. Reminding us all.....to never choose paint color at the Home Store under florescent lights, (unless you are painting a room washed in florescent light). A pet peeve of mine, happens to be watching homemakers on Saturday morning either choosing colors for their living room by matching a swatch or a pillow, or, those who simply choose a color without testing it painted on the wall. Think - "Green grass in the summer reflecting light in" or " Snow reflecting white light in" or...OK, forget it, I will leave this rant to my design blog...but look at how different this orchid looks in each shot.

Light is critical in choosing color or in photographing color for accuracy. I love the color of sunsets in winter, and this show proves how the Cymbidium "Massachusetts Sunset' earned its name.

Cymbidium 'Massachusetts Sunset" has a fragrance which I think smells exactly like dried orange peel. Scent is such a powerful memory, that everytime I smell a large, standard Cymbidium, I am transported back to when I was in high school, and I had to go on an interview for my first job, a work-study position as a gardener for a Fletcher Steele garden, here in Worcester. Helen Stoddard, who's estate it was, had brought in a large cut spike of a brown, standard Cymbidium and had it in her parlor. The memory of the March light, the color of the flowers which then, to me, we're quite exotic since the only Cymbidium one saw normally in my town came in acetate corsage boxes at Mother's Day. Today, my favorite color in this genus of orchids that are terrestrial ( grown growing) and cool greenhouse growers, are the green and brown flowers strains. I just love them.

A new Hybrid Amaryllis, Exotica® with a unique color which actually has a hint of yellow in it.

A new variety which I found in the White Flower Farm catalog, was this Amaryllis variety called 'Exotica®', a registered variety which is a bit more pricey than the average Dutch varieties, but has a color which is most interesting, which shades of yellow, mustard, lime and pink in it. Or, is it raw veal? Anyway, I do like it, and, if the cost seems steep, the Amaryllis from WWF are worth it, since each will produce at least 2 of not 3 stems, so one bulb can be in bloom for most of the winter.

January sunset colors on the greenhouse Friday, before another snow storm arrived. Next week, we are being warned that temperatures will reach -5 below zero F! I can't imagine that my gas furnace, which explodes ever time it ignites, will ever make it. We shall see! I am in Florida next week speaking at a conference, maybe it is best if I do not know what happens while I am gone.

An Eastern Grey Squirrel trying to stay warm in our sub-zero temperatures.


  1. Thanks for sharing your photos of your Cymbidium 'Massachusetts Sunset'. It is stunning.

    Good luck with the greenhouses with the upcomng weather.

  2. Anonymous7:20 PM

    I love the Amaryllis.


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