Some bonus hybrids and orchid history

As regulars will be aware, we specialise in orchid species and have over 900 species in the school orchid houses. I do however have a small number of hybrids and I grow these two to remind me of my orchid childhood.

I began growing orchids at the age of 13 and in 1975 aged 14, I started to work for the famous Dorset orchid Nursery, Keith Andrew Orchids, on Saturdays and school holidays. Keith was an inspiring orchid grower and a fantastic breeder of new hybrids.

This is Cymbidium Bulbarrow ‘Our Midge’ a hybrid between the wonderful small flowered species Cymbidium devonianum (below)  and a large pink hybrid Western Rose.

Keith registered the hybrid when the first seedlings flowered in 1976 and I clearly remember the excitement in the nursery as all the plants were fantastic – and very new at the time. From 1978 Bulbarrows started winning major awards and the different clones made for some absolutely wonderful displays at shows including my first Chelsea Flower Show in the late 70s and early 80s.

This is Vulylstekeara Cambria ‘Plush’ FCC, another plant that made Keith’s nursery in Plush famous. The hybrid was registered in 1931 by Charlesworth Nurseries but it was in the 1960s that Keith won the top RHS award (an First Class Certificate) for the plant. By the time that I was at the nursery we had meristems of the awarded plant for sale and the long lasting flowers were almost always in view. It was one of my first purchases with my wages. The plant went on to be grown by the millions in Holland, and formed the basis of the modern oncidium type house plant industry. Sadly, Keith did not benefit financially from dutch sales of the plant he made famous.


Join the Discussion


  1. Agnes Jones says:

    These are very beautiful. Thank you for telling us about them.
    I know you will have lots more tales about your first job in an Orchid Nursery. I am sure you could write very entertaining James Herriot style stories about your colourful orchid life!

  2. Charles Stuart says:

    And to visit the Brace of Pheasants was mandatory after the nursery.
    I think Western Rose has some Rio Rita RADIANT breeding

    • Simon Pugh-Jones says:

      Haha very true – lovely memories – though at fourteen with a 10 mile cycle home the pub was not a regular stopping point for me.

  3. Lois says:

    Thank you very much for this article. I also have B. ‘Our Midge’. I’ve grown it since it was a small seedling and it took about 7 years before it had flowers for the first time. Now I know where the unusual green tinge came from. I wrote a little story about this hybrid as it had wrong label and it took awhile for me to find the correct name. https://kiyanti2008.wordpress.com/2014/08/12/it-is-not-alex-muffet-orchid-world/

  4. Stuart Morphew-McEwan says:

    I new Keith in the 1980/90s I at this time was orchid grower for the RHS and committe secretary where I met kieth and visited plush on numerous occasions I remember seeing bulbarrow robin hood a wonderful flower and never seen another .
    Keith was very knowledgeable and generous i remember coming home from the nursery with half a dozen plants all for about £20