There is only one possible orchid of the day and it is the state flower of Sarawak. We have seen this species in gardens and the orchid garden yesterday and are looking forward to exploring the forest on Friday, Saturday and Sunday to see lots more orchids in habitat.
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. The flowers have a distinct rose fragrance.
This plant seems well suited to growing in a house as it seems to enjoy high temperatures, dry air and damp roots. (one of our plants below)
It was all action this morning as the Sarawak Orchid Propagation Project partners gathered at MRSM school for the official opening of the propagation laboratory. Students, Sarawak Orchid Society, Mayor Kuching North, educationalists and academics.
The Chief Minister’s Wife arrived at 10am and was given a very professional tour of the new laboratory by the MRSM students Elwin, Natalia, Miara and Nina. The girls explained and demonstrated replating seedlings in the flow cabinet, TZ testing for seed viability and orchid seed through the wifi microscope.
The opening ceremony and celebration included speeches, certificates (here is Chloe receiving her certificate from the First Minister’s Wife) and a meal. TV and newspaper cameras were everywhere and Orchid Project students were interviewed for Sarawak TV.
We found that we had been on TV last night and all the newspapers featured our meeting with the Mayor.
It has been a thoroughly enjoyable event as shown by the happy faces of the student team (and one of the MRSM mums)
Many thanks to the efforts of Tengku ands her committee at the Sarawak orchid Society for making today possible.
The day finished with enough time to explore the shops in the centre of Kuching and some wonderful textiles will be coming home with us at the end of the expedition.
While we enjoy the excitement of Kuching our orchids continue to sparkle back at school and we have a visit by the Britain in bl0om judges on Friday.
This species is found in the wild in Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador in dryish oak forest from 1200m to about 2000m. We grow it with a minimum temperature of 15 degrees C mounted on a cork slab in our Warm Americas section.
The natural habitat indicates it could be grown cool (down to about 12 degrees) but our plants seem to appreciate the heat. It flowers in the late spring and has a lot of flower for the size of the plant.
We have tried growing the species in pots but we the roots have always suffered from rots and the plants have struggled as a result. On cork bark mounts the roots are wonderful and last for years, so we will always grow plants mounted.
We have a large plant that we will be splitting next month and so in a year from now we should have lots of flowering plants available.
We started the day by meeting the Mayor of Kuching City North to discuss the project and the forthcoming APOC show.
We then managed a short while at the Kuching Cat Museum where we learnt all about the five wild cat species of Sarawak and the domestic cats too. The three below are definitely the wild sort!
A quick visit to the Kuching Orchid Garden followed where we found a lot of very well grown hybrids and a few orchid species native to Sarawak such as Phalaenopsis bellina (below)
We spent the rest of the day at MRSM school working with the wonderful student orchid team who have now learnt how to make media,
carry out TZ tests and re-plate orchid seedlings.
We showed you Gongora Unicolor and maculata yesterday so here is a closer look at Gongora unicolor.
This fragrant species (kind of sweet spicy) is from Central America, so no plants of it here in Sarawak. Though it is always lovely to share our orchids of the tropical world with a new community of orchid enthusiasts.
We find the species is one of our more vigorous Gongoras and although the flowers spikes are not that long and the flowers are less dramatic than some of its cousins (it lack of spots, eyes and bright colours of other Gongoras) it is always a welcome sight in the greenhouse and flowers on and off throughout the spring and summer.
The species is found in damp lowland forests from Mexico to Honduras and in common with other gongoras we find that it enjoys warm shaded and damp conditions in a basket.