Friday was Simon’s last day as a teacher.
Dr Simon Pugh – Jones MBE began his career as a physics teacher at Writhlington in 1989. He started the Orchid Project in some old greenhouses left redundant, after the national curriculum was introduced by the government. In 2013, Simon was awarded his MBE for his work in education.
Simon has grown the Writhlington Orchid Project to be one of the most significant collections of orchids, not only in this country but world wide. Of the 28,000 species of orchid in the world, Writhlington houses nearly 1000 all thanks to Simon.
Although Simon is retiring from his work as a teacher, he will remain a member of the Writhlington Orchid Project. Both he and Annie will be volunteering with us and I hope, giving us plenty of advice for many years to come.
Our Sabralia macrantha, Samantha as she has been affectionately named by an Orchid Project student, was in need of a repot.
The first job was to remove the old plastic pot. This was done by cutting with a saw which enabled the roots to be lifted from the pot.
Once removed from the pot it was plain to see the roots at the bottom were old and dead. These were removed with a saw.
The old compost had degraded and resembled peat rather than large chips of orchid bark.
It was decided that Samantha was too big to remain as one plant. She needed to be cut into viable pieces before we could repot her.
Again a saw was used.
Samantha was cut into five smaller plants and she and her Sobralia macrantha offspring are now happily repotted into new pots with fresh large chips of orchid bark.
Sobralia macrantha are large, warm growing orchids. They have large pink or white flowers, depending on the clone, but I rate them for their foliage. They would look really cool lit up with halo grow lights in the corner of a living room.
After visiting Chris Thorogood at the Oxford University Botanic Gardens we worked with ex-Orchid Project Student Jess Buckle and her research into the Orchids along the River Cherwell.
Jess has completed three years at St John’s College, Oxford and still joins us regularly for Orchid Project events. For her final year dissertation she is studying orchid populations along the river Cherwell and our task was to help her with orchid counts and surveys and one of her test sites.
We found that a team of 25 orchid enthusiasts can make light of orchid counts in the field. I was particularly impressed with the speed with which the MRSM students became experts in identifying British wild flowers.
A big thank you to Jess for making the day so exciting.
Continuing with the events of last week’s visit from our Sarawak partners, Wednesday was ‘Oxford Day’ starting with a fascinating visit to The Oxford University Botanic Gardens.
We were hosted by Chris Thorogood, Deputy Director, and given a fantastic tour of the gardens. Chris is passionate about the plants of South East Asia and so a morning talking about the plants of Sarawak was a real treat. We learnt about Chris’ work in Sabah and the Philippines on the propagation of Rafflesia species and look forward to working with Chris in the future.
Yesterday the Sarawak and Orchid Project teams spent an amazing day in Bristol University Botanic Gardens with Curator, Nick Wray. We learnt about botanic garden display design, interpretation and lots about the amazing plants in Bristol’s collection.
The photo here shows us with Nick and Glasshouse Manager Penny Harms in the warm tropical house.
Nick’s tour of the garden really got everyone thinking about the opportunities in Kuching for the new mini-botanic garden at MRSM School and the proposed Orchid Botanic Gardens. We are delighted that Nick is now part of the team to support development in Kuching.