A Victorian Botanical Find

Yesterday I visited Shepton Mallet antiques fair. On one of the stalls I found these beautiful, hand coloured  pages taken from a Victorian botanical book.  Before the internet, television or coloured photography, how wonderful it would have been to look at these coloured illuminations of new botanical discoveries from far away places. The colours are still as bright and clear as the day they were printed.

Below is Zygopetalum maxillare,  a terrestrial orchid native to Brazil.  It is said to grow in crevices between rocks. We don’t seem to have this at Writhlington but I have one in my own collection which I grow around 12 degrees Celsius.  At school we do have Zygopetalum maculatum which smells gorgeous when in flower and is cooler growing.

Satyrium erectum, shown below is another terrestrial orchid, from Southwestern South Africa .  It grows on  sloping sandy soils. Another orchid we do not have at Writhlington.

We have quite a few Gongora species in our greenhouses but not this one. Gongora atropurpurea shown below is native to North Brazil, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela.  The flowers are said to have the scent of cloves.  It needs to be warm, humid and moist.  Perhaps our school greenhouses would not be warm enough for it.

  Huntleya meleagris is not one in our Writhlington collection either but might grow quite well in our Cool Americas greenhouse as it is a cool growing, free flowering epiphyte from the  cloud forests of Venezuela, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago.

Maxillaria tenuifolia, well here is one we do have and it grows well for us.  The flowers smell of coconut and it makes a good house plant. I have one that thrives in my sitting room, not needing too much attention.  I have it in a pot of bark but in the greenhouse we grow our specimens mounted.  It lives in our Warm Americas section as Maxillaria tenuifolia likes to be kept warm.

We find our greenhouses at Writhlington too cold for many of the Phalaenopsis species. Phalaenopsis amabilis or moon orchid is a single stemmed epiphyte and common house plant with long lasting flowers.  It is the national flower of Indonesia but is also found in the wild in Northern Australia, New Guinea and the Philippines

Trichopilia tortilis, or Twisted Trichopilia, is a fragrant, epiphytic orchid with waxy flowers.  It comes from Mexico and Costa Rica growing in damp, humid forests . This is probably why we do not grow it in Writhlington, our greenhouse are not warm enough.

I hope you have enjoyed looking at the Victorian botanical world. These pages are so beautiful I am going to get them framed so I can look at them every day.


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