March 22, 2008

Happy Easter!

Fritillaria sewerzowii
Ian Young, from the Scottish Rock Garden Society ( and his very informative and addictive blog) had recently raised the issue that many people ( as if there truly were 'many') who grow Frits that are the more unusual species form, are having issues with the blossoms opening before the foliage comes out. I do have this problem with Fritillaria stenanthera, but not with F. sewerzowii. But Ian's plants, which inspired me to grow these jewels in the first place, are so much larger, it must be the fertilizer he uses ( tomato and Phosphorus) whereas here in the states, more unorthodox formulas are more difficult to find. I do use a 0-0-10 after bloom, but not every week or on the surface, and Ian suggests.
Tomato fertilizer, which is often reccomended for many bulbs in Europe, has a different analysis here in the states, and it depends on which brand you purchase. One may be high in nitrogen ( not good for most bulbs) and others that are completely opposite. Ideally, I like a 5-20-20, if I could find it.

Forced pot of Lilly of the Valley

If you look back in December on this blog, you will see how I planted these Convallaria. They we're slower to emerge than I expected, but quite nice, actually. The fragrance in the greenhouse tells me that it is officially Spring ( and it is!). Out side, I might say that we had the perfect winter, with hardly a temp below 10 degrees F and a full snow cover, which just melted. As long as no below 20 degree nights occur ( and it looks doubtful, since April is about a week away), my zone 5 garden, may continue to have some spectacular zone 7 plants, for another year. Of course, in New England, I most likely just jinxed myself!

Easter Flowers in the Greenhouse

March 17, 2008

Japanese Native Orchids - Shogunbutsu

Dendrobium moniliforme

Dendrobium moniliforme

Cymbidium goerengii

Cymbidium goeringii

Neofinetia falcata'

As many of you know, I grow few orchids, but what I do collect and grow are the species native to Japan which it seems the Japanese only grow, and very few westerners. These include the genus Neofinetia, the species Dendrobium moniliforme, and the species Cymbidium goringii. Orchis graminifolia, Calanthe species and Liparis round out the more common Japanese orchids grown by the Japanese who have grown these species for hundreds of years, and who, over time, have evolve the art and cultivation for each of these species to include elaborate techniques involving pottery, sphagnum potting material style and display. Without going into tremendous detail, these species are worth seeking out and researching, since their history and culture is absolutely amazing and practically unknown in the west.

It amazed me that here in Japan, one can walk through rows and rows of two inch pots of Dendrobium moniliforme, and see most every balcony contain the tiny pots with clean globes of perfectly white sphagnum moss, all topped off with a perfect tiny neofinetia 'wind orchid'.

Just when you think you've seen it all, there is an entirely new world of plants and culture to discover. These orchids all have a deep history to the Japanese, one that involves the Samurai, the Edo period and the fact that these are some of the first potted plants ever cultivated by man. As my friend said, as she toured the displays " I can;t beleive they filled a stadium up with dead plants for people to take pictures of!", But these are orchids that are cool or cold growing, and they bloom often before thier new foliage comes out, so take the time to learn more about them, and if you are interested in getting any, there are a few sources in the US who carry them such as Barry Yinger's Asiatica.com

Tokyo Orchid Show Recap

Just as any orchid show, half the floor is dedicated to retailers selling everything from plants, to fertilizer.

....and 'mouse pad eramu'

An award winning Dendrochilum species

Jet lag from the Orient is a nasty thing to recover from, but I did want to recap my trip with some images of the best orchids which I viewed wile visiting the International Orchid Grand Prix in Tokyo.
Even though I was on a business trip which was non-plant related, I was fortunate to be able to squeeze in a Saturday afternoon at this largest of orchid shows. This was my second Grand Prix in Tokyo, and although it felt smaller, it still motivated me to go buy some orchids. Here are some of the highlights...

A Cattleya with lots of blooms. This is a show, where the specimens have an incredible number of blossoms.

A Dracula species that I did not happen to get the name of.

Amazing Cat's

This is a show where the whirr and buzz of digital cameras and cell phones add to the experience.

First on my wish list, the Australian, Dendrobium speciosum.

Second on my wish list, Dendrobium hancockii, a branchy, deciduous Dendro that was massive in width. I HAVE to get this one!

Lycaste are perhaps the most impressive at this show. I think the cool winters in Japan provide the perfect conditions for this orchid.

Lycaste 'Spring Bouquet"