We are delighted that we will be working with our friends at Plimsoll Productions on a major new wildlife film that will feature our South American orchids in exciting time lapse.
We took the first plants over to Aardman Studios in Bristol today to discuss plans and plant care ahead of time lapse filming which will start in September. The photographic enthusiasts in the project (camera geeks for short) will be visiting the Aardman studios regularly over the next few months to get involved and learn from the experts.
Visiting Aardman was a chance for Issy to catch up with some friends (below)
We were honoured to meet the real Wallace and Gromit who are working on an advert that will hit TV screens near Christmas.
Just three weeks ago we were in Sarawak and we are now working hard to plan the details of our next trip there in October. It is therefore very appropriate that Phalaenopsis bellina, Sarawak’s state flower, is blooming here. The plant shown is growing at home where it is filling my dining room with its strong rose fragrance. (yes it is unmistakably smells of sweet roses). As a plant that enjoys deep shade and warm temperatures it is well suited to indoor culture.
This phalaenopsis species is found across Borneo and it grows it hot lowland forest in swamps or near rivers. Plants grow low in trees where it is often in deep shade. The species grows very attractive large undulating leaves and flower spikes that produce large fragrant flowers successively over a long period so the plant will be in flower now until late in the autumn.
Phalaenopsis bellina in Sarawak
This is a small growing species that always produces masses of flowers at this time of year.
Maxillaria meleagris is native to cool forests in Mexico and Guatemala from 1500-2400m but we find that it is equally at home in both our Cool Americas and our Warm Americas section. We keep plants watered all year and find they enjoy shade and are very happy growing on benches under some of our hanging plants (such as Cattleyas) that like higher light levels.
We have found that several of our orchid growing friends find plants from this group of Maxillarias well suited to windowsill culture, so perhaps this is a species to add to your wish list.
This unusual little species is found in riverine forests in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia from 1300-2350m altitude and so is a coolish growing species adapted for a relatively dry but humid environment.
We grow the species in Cool Americas (Min 12C) hanging on a long wire hook attached to the twig it once lived on! The plant lives up to its name and grows vertically with masses of roots and pretty little flowers along the climbing stem. It seems quite happy growing up its wire and it will be interesting to see how far it will grow.
We divided our large plant of Dracula amaliae about twelve months ago and it is pleasing to see plants flowering (five spikes on this plant) and growing strongly. The photos below show the plant before division.
This Dracula species is native to cloud forests in Colombia at around 1800m altitude. As with most Draculas it is pollinated by fungus gnats and attracts them with a fake mushroom shaped lip. This also give the ‘Monkey Face’ look shared by a number of species.
We grow the plant in Cool Americas but find we need to give a few Dracula specific conditions for the plant to flourish. Firstly it needs to be grown in a basket (as you can see here) as many of the flowers grow downwards from the base of the leaves. Secondly it enjoys being very damp and heavily shaded. We find that the easy way to provide these conditions is to hang the dracula’s basket below another plant in a basket providing shade and added moisture. The level of moisture is shown by the natural growth of moss on the basket.
The final requirement is to avoid high temperatures which cause brown patches on the leaves and leaf drop. This is also helped by hanging below another plant as the dracula is at around waist height and not it the warmer air near the top of the greenhouse.
This all sounds quite complicated but as you can see the plant grows very happily when it likes its spot and we have twenty flowers or buds on the plant this morning.