Our coolest section has a minimum temperature of 6C and the vents are open most of the year.This is where we grow our best cymbidiums along with cool coelogynes, dendrobiums and our native British orchids.
Having a really cool section allows us to extend the flowering season of spring orchids, especially for the London Show in April – Of course this year the plants will have to manage with exposure online.
As you can see from the photos we have our wonderful specimen Dendrobium delicatum here, as well as some spectacular Coelogyne cristatas.
We have been as high as the snow in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh so we appreciate how cool some Himalayan orchids grow. The photograph show Luke and Luke at Yumthang (3700m altitude) in the Lachung Valley, Sikkim in 2010
Today we have one of the amazing dendrobium species currently flowering in our Warm Asia section. The golden flowers of the species always transport me to the remarkable forsts of the Bolaven Plateau in Southern Laos.
Dendrobium chrysotoxum is native to seasonally dry forest monsoon forests and we found it in several locations at around 1000m around Paksong. Plants were mostly growing on the trunk and lower branches of large trees in good light as shown on the photo below.
In cultivation we reflect the natural habitat by growing plants warm and wet in the summer in Warm Asia but give a cooler and much dryer winter in the top of Cool Americas. We find that baskets are ideal for this rewarding species that gives an immense amount of flower for the size of the plant. We have a number of plants and we will have flowers from now until the end of April.
This is a species from dendrobium, section densiflorum, which contains 14 species, characterised by flowers in a miltiflowered inflorescence produced near the top of stout pseudobulbs. The pseudobulbs have a few leathery leaves near the top. All 14 species are stunning and we have six of them flowering over the next month – see if you can spot them all.
This is possibly our most atmospheric section, dripping with roots and Spanish Moss (Tillandsia usneoides). The section has a minimum temperature of 12C and is where we grow our plants from the mountains of South and Central America. Our aim is to make it feel as much like the amazing cloud forests of Brazil and Costa Rica that have left such an impression on me and the students that have explored these precious places.
Writhlington students in wet forest at 1400m altidude in Costa Rica in 2005 (above) and Brazil in 2006.(below)
There are always orchids flowering in Cool Americas, the current stars being Epidendrum parkinsonianum and Odontoglossum cristatum (below)
How is this for flamboyance to cheer everyone up. Cattleya schroderae has enormous pale pink flowers with an orange/yellow disc on the lip and a particularly frilly look. I measured the flowers yesterday and the one at the front here was 25cm wide – wow! The species is another from Colombia, and it grows in warm lower montane forest. It is similar to another Colmcian Cattleya, Cattleya trianae (below) but has fewer larger flowers and different shaped pseudobulbs.
Cattleya schroderae flowers reliably during March and early April and is a regular at the London show. We call it the filly knickers cattleya which seems a little unfair on this grand species – what do you think?
We grow our plant in a basket of course bark, hanging high in Warm Americas with the rest of our Cattleyas. This is another plant for dividing this month.
Warm Americas is our lowland forest from South and Central America. Home to our Cattleyas such as the Cattleya trianae I showed being divided earlier and this wonderful Cattleya intermedia ‘coerulea’ native to Brazil – I will feature all our Cattleya intermedias next month when more of the varieties have flowered.
This section is our brightest with the auto shading coming into play at light levels above 500W/m2. This replicates the dryer brighter forests we have found in lowland Brazil, Guatemala and Belize (compared to the wet evergreen shady forests at higher altitudes)
Open lowland forests in Guatemala full of orchids such as Prosthechea cochleata and Brassavola cuculata (shown below in habitat)