WSBEorchids

Work Experience

Hi, I’m John O’Rourke a year 10 student and I am spending my work experience at The Writhlington Orchid Project. I will be spending time learning techniques such as seed sowing and re-plating. I wil continue to update this blog on my progress on the Project.

With Stanhopea tigrina
With Stanhopea tigrina

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WAOF

WAOF Banner 2

The Writhlington Autumn Orchid Festival is your chance to have a look around the new school greenhouses, talk to orchid experts from the Somerset, Wiltshire & Dorset Orchid Society, purchase Orchids and sundries from various trade, and dine in the brand new Orchid Café.

WAOF will run from 10am-4pm on Saturday 25th September at Writhlington School. Entrance £1.


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“Better than Glue”

One of my personal favourite orchids has just opened today! Stanhopea tigrina is an amazing plant, not just for it’s huge flower, but also for it’s smell. This orchid is attracting euglossine bees for pollination, which results in a simply beautiful smell that we’ve once had described as “better than glue”!

We’re not quite sure about that comment, but we do know that it looks, and smells, stunning! Warm America currently smells brilliant.

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Three go mad in ST6

Zoe, Caroline and Matt cooking up orchid media
Zoe, Caroline and Matt cooking up orchid media

With just four weeks left of term it’s all hands to the orchid lab at Writhlington. Our plan is to complete at least 30 jars of seedlings every day until July 23rd. This will give us 600 jars of seedlings growing and ready for our customers to buy at the London Orchid show next year. To make room in the lab we will also be planting out all the seedlings that are now big enough, so our greenhouses will be full of cute little baby orchids….aaawww, so sweet. By the way ST6 is the classroom next to the greenhouse where we do our media cooking.

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Orchids keep their cool

Writhlington students in wet forest at 1400m altidude in Costa Rica in 2005
Writhlington students in wet forest at 1400m altidude in Costa Rica in 2005

It seems that the summer is really here…..it must be because the older members of greenhouse club are stuck in exams all day! Summer is the time that most tropical orchids do most of their growing as summer is the wet season in tropical climates.

 So what should you be doing to keep your orchids happy? Summer for Writhlington’s orchids means lots of water, frequent feeding and lots of fresh air. If you have a look at our webcams you can watch our summer temperatures which we keep down with a combination of ventilation (all of the vents are open most days and the cooler sections often have vents open at night too) damping down (spraying the floor and walls with water that then evaporates to cool the greenhouse and also keep the atmosphere from becoming too dry) and shading (our shading operates on light sensors but is across on all sunny days from April – October).Of course we are trying to mimic summer conditions from the orchids’ natural habitats and draw on our experience of visiting tropical habitats in the summer including the mountains of Costa Rica.

The plants in ‘Cool Americas’ require this climate. We found it very wet (as shown in this photo) and never very hot. So maximum day temperatures of around 28 degrees C. At night the temperature fell to around 15 degrees C.

We have also visited lowland Guatemala in the summer where is contrast it was very hot with day temperatures from 28-34 degrees C and night temperatures falling at best to 23 degrees C. This is the climate we replicate in Warm Americas. Oh yes, and it was wet but not as wet as Costa Rica.

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