Visit by Tom Mirenda from the US

Last week students from Mendip Studio and Writhlington Schools hosted a visit by US scientist Tom Mirenda from the Smithsonian Institution.

Tom is director of horticulture and education at the Hawaii Tropical Botanic Garden and came to learn from the experience of students at the Writhlington Orchid Project.

After meeting students and touring the propagation laboratories in the Mendip Studio School Tom gave a fascinating lecture to students and staff on recent research into pollination biology.

Tom is very keen to share the experience of Students at Mendip Studio and Writhlington Schools and to use the work as a model for education and conservation projects internationally. Provisional plans were agreed for a tour of the United States by students and potential joint conservation and science projects between the Mendip Studio School and the Hawaii Tropical Botanic Garden.

It was a pleasure hosting Tom’s visit and I am very excited about the opportunities for students through our joint projects with Hawaii over the next few years.


Arriving at Eden

Charlotte and I arrived at the Eden Project today where we will be doing work experience for the week. So far today we have had a tour around the rainforest biome and have helped to check for fallen branches from the trees. We will keep you updated on what we do throughout the week. 


365 days of orchids – day 190 – Cymbidium erythrostylum

This is a small growing, summer flowering Cymbidium that is native to Vietnam where it grows in cool forests at around 1500m. We find this species very straight forward and reliable with the advantage of flowering relatively quickly from seed. The plant shown in the photograph flowered three years out of flask and is now carrying a seed pod for the next generation. It also won best Cymbidium at our recent Orchid Festival.

The species is quite variable in the size of the flower and the colour of the lip striping which varies from deep red to scarlet/orange. The white of the flowers is very white and always attracts attention.


365 days of orchids – day 189 – Masdevallia pyxis

This is a small sized Masdevallia native to Peru that grows in cool forest around 2300m altitude where it grows as an epiphyte of lithophyte. It has thick rounded leaves and the flowers are produced in profusion on stems much shorter than the leaves. We find that growing the species mounted or in a small basket shows of the flowers to their best, or in a pot it works well to stand the pot on something that allows you to see under the leaves.