No not the snow, Dendrobium wattii. Some orchids have the most amazingly crisp white flowers and this Christmas the best white is this stunning Dendrobium native to the Eastern Himalayas of Burma, Thailand and Laos. It is another cool grower and we keep it at a minimum of 10ºC. The orange stripes on the lip are guides to the pollinating bees although this may well be a deceipt poliator as are many long lasting orchids. The flower provides no pollinator reward such as nectar and relies on mimicry or naive pollinators. Research has shown that the closely related species Dendrobium infundibulum mimics a white Rhododendron species. Well, trick flower or not, Dendrobium wattii has won me over.
Writhlington School may be closed for the holiday but the plants in the school greenhouses never take a break. In fact, christmas is a lovely time with lots of plants flowering in the run up to our peak time in March. Most of the plants we grow are cooler growing orchids native to the tropical slopes of mountains like the Himilayas or Andes. The majority of these species flower in the dry season (winter and spring). The current impact plants in our cool end (minimum 7-10 degrees celcius)are the Mexican Laelias. Lealia anceps is native to the mountains in South West Mexico where they grow on oak trees. With us they flower reliably every christmas with long sprays of bright pink flowers. We find the species is easy to growand flower. In Mexico it is used as a central part of the Day of the Dead (El Dia de los Muertos) celebrations. Whether you celebrate El Dia de los Muertos or not, we recommend you have a try at growing Laelia anceps.
Everyone at greenhouse club would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas! We’ve had an excellent year and look forward to the next one, which will be full of even more Orchids, Conservation, Enterprise and a whole lot of fun!
So, I hear you ask, what has ‘The Big Bang’ got to do with orchids? Well, not a great deal… the Big Bang Science fair in Manchester, though? That’s a whole other story!
As some of you may already know, as part of our Sikkim expedition in April this year, I carried out research on the orchid populations of the Sikkim Himalaya. My research shows that the populations are now growing at a higher altitude than they did in the 1890’s and the altitude rise is in line with that to be expected from global warming.
This project, as well as many others, will be on display at The Big Bang in Manchester Central from 11th – 13th March 2010. 80 days to go!
As part of the Go4SET project last year, a working model of the new greenhouses was made by one of our two teams to illustrate how water would be conserved in the new greenhouse. Unfortunately, this model was semi-destroyed a few months back.
Fortunately – it’s back and as good as new! Zoe Barnes (who happens to be my sister) took the model home as a ‘Christmas Project’ on Thursday and, after a lot of repairs and glue gun burns, we’d fixed it! Looking very pleased with the day’s work – here is Zoe, making the final finishing touches to the model.
The model will be displayed in the the real, full size, new greenhouses when they are completed.