Press release – 2 years on…


By Jonathan Dennis

Under the stewardship of the Principal of Erica Primary School in Belhar, a keen orchid hobbyist grower and current President of the Cape Orchid Society, Jonathan Dennis is well placed to head the School Orchid Project.

The School Orchid Project was spearheaded by both, Jonathan’s love of orchids and his want, to share of his knowledge with his pupils; he gently introduced his passion to those pupils interested in plants, their care and their culture, to his orchids.

The students begun to become more and more interested as the orchids, mostly Cymbidiums began to send out flower stems and eventually bloom.

It was also fortunate that scouts from the Cape Town Flower Show visited the Chelsea Flower Show in London and were delighted to find a school orchid project from Writhlington School in England exhibiting at this prestigious event. Writhlington School started its orchid project in 1995 and is the brainchild of its keeper, Simon Pugh-Jones, a teacher at Writhlington who saw a gap in the curriculum and has kept continuity through the years.

It was at the invitation of the organizers and sponsors of the Cape Town Flower Show that a team from Writhlington School were selected to bring their Gold Medal Exhibit at the Chelsea Flower Show to Cape Town and the chance for the two project leaders to meet.

The exhibit was a working laboratory at which students from the UK based orchid project showed the public how to sow orchid seed. The laboratory equipment was sponsored by the Organizers and the City of Cape Town and it was agreed that all of this equipment would be handed over to a school based project here in Cape Town and so the Erica School Orchid Project was born.

It is a conservation based project with its main aim to producing rare orchid species from seed. Many of the rare species are in the collections of members of the Cape Orchid Society and have been for many, many years. Members have been asked to pollinate their plants and donate the seed capsules to the project. The learners at Erica School will be taught many new skills and will sow the seed and offer young orchid seedlings for sale in order to raise funds for the school and promote their project.

While the project is in its infancy, it was with much thanks to the City of Cape Town for its foresight and finance and supply of a second hand greenhouse to get the project onto a good footing. Additional generous financial support from the Rotary Club of Claremont was arranged by Mr Bill Phillips, also a member of the Cape Orchid Society who saw huge merit in the project and who with Jonathan have put their all into monitoring its success so far.

Teaching children in any subject horticultural will surely enable children to get to terms with mother earth and about the environment and conservation.