Every February we are captivated by this small growing Masdevallia native to Peru where it grows in cloud forest above 2600m altitude and loves it cool and moist with good air movement. Some species from similar habitats are a challenge to grow well in a greenhouse but this species seems to be a vigorous grower and as you can see from the photo on the left produces lovely glossy leaves too. We grow this species in baskets of bark and moss and give it a minimum of 10C.
The flowers are produced in some abundance on long flower spikes and have dramatic spotting and crossed legs (tails). Despite the unusual spots and crossed legs the species gets its name from its lute shaped lip (its actually rather small so a teeny weeny lute)
Dendrochilum javieriense is the second dendrochilum to come into flower this spring and like Dendrochilum glumaceum has masses of small flowers that give a beautiful display.
Comparing the two species, Dendrochilum javierense is a smaller growing plant with narrow stiff leaves and the more upright flower stems are a beautiful brich red colour.
The species is native to the Philippines where it grows in massy forest above 1200m and so in culture we grow the plants damp all year. We grow the species in our Warm Asia section which it seems to enjoy although it would grow cooler. Our Cool Asia section we find a little too cool for it.
This is a really good week for amazing orchids in our greenhouse and one of the most amazing has to be Bulbophyllum rothschildianum with its large red and pink flowers.
The species is native the Eastern Himalayan region of Southern China, North East India and Burma. I have been to the warm lowland forests of Arunachal Pradesh where the species is found. These forests have a very wet summer when growth occurs but a much dryer winter which is the flowering time. We find the species does well in both baskets or pots but appreciated good drainage and watering regularly even in winter so that the bulbs do not shrivel.
The flowers smell quite strongly of fresh fish (we think mackerel) which is quite pleasant as long as you are expecting it. We presume that the fly pollinators find it irresistible. To get an idea of flower size the pot in the photo below is a 15cm pot.
Cymbidium hookerianum is one of our favourite orchids. Its dramatic arching spikes of large brightly coloured flowers are really arresting and as one of Sikkim’s charismatic orchids it is a plant we enjoyed finding in our trips to the Himalayas.
Our largest plant has produced two spikes this year and the first is now fully out in flower. Paige is holding the plant in our photo as she is working with Martha to lead on our link project with the Cheshire Home, Timsbury. Paige and Martha will soon be hosting a visit to the Greenhouse and Mendip Studio School by Cheshire Home residents and in the longer term will be helping the Gardening group at the Home to develop their own orchid collection. The girls are particularly keen that Cymbidium hookerianum should be the flagship species for the project.(more of this story later in the year)
Cymbidium hookerianum is a really cool growing species and we have seen it in Sikkim from 1500-3000m altitude. We have observed that plants flower profusely on dead trees suggesting that the species benefits from additional feeding during the growing season as well as good light. We grow the species in our Temperate section with a winter minimum around 6C which the plants relish. In our experience the species will grow warmer but will not flower as reliably.
I heard people today describing this time of year as miserable but I had to disagree – with Cymbidium hookerianum in flower this time is full positively joyful. The flowers also have a nice scent described by one of my pupils this week as “green”. The large flowers are pollinated by large bumble bees.
Another positive for the species is the name. Hookerianum honours Joseph Hooker, one of Britains great exploring botanists. If you haven’t read Hooker’s Journals I highly recomend reading them, and then exploring Sikkim for yourself.
As you are probably aware we sowed 500,000 seeds of this species on January 4th and we hope to have seedlings available for sale in about eighteen months.
We are convinced that this is the cutest gongora species. Gongora dressleri is a small plant that produces long pendulous flower spikes with attractive flowers covered in spots and stripes and with a white lip. These are the smallest flowers in the genus but they are very graceful and demand a close inspection which reveals a lemon yellow spot on each side of the lip.
The species is found in Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia and according to Tallis (who is good with scents) the fragrance is similar to hyacinths.
We have another clone (below) which is more heavily spotted than the clone (above) in flower today but otherwise very similar.