365 days of orchids – day 151 – Cleisostoma crassifolia

There seems to be little known about this species which is native to the Philippines and is a stunning small member of the Vanda family. In fact it is quite closely related to yesterday’s Aerides oderata which is over 2m tall while this plant is only about 10cm across.

The long lasting flowers look like little birds in flight and are large for the size of the plant.

The thick leaves and the fat roots are a good indication that this species comes from a warm dryish forest and so we grow it mounted and hung high in Warm Asia where it thrives.


BBC Countryfile – Planning for filming next Wednesday


This morning we had a visit from Emma Fry and Linda Sands from the BBC to plan filming with Countryfile next Wednesday. The visit started with Orchid Project students giving a tour of the greenhouse and the labs before checking out the native orchids flowering at Ammerdown with head gardener Richard Kitley.

With lots of notes made we are all set for filming next week and we will be working with presenter Ellie Harrison.


365 days of orchids – day 150 – Aerides oderata


Possibly our most impressive specimen plant is this 2.5m tall, gorgeously fragrant, ancient plant of Aerides oderata(we have been growing it from a small plant purchased from Burnham Nurseries in 1995) .

It won a cultural certificate from the RHS in June 2014 but has increased a lot in size since then. The species is native to lowland forests in the Himalayas and we have seen it in Assam in warm monsoon forest in the plain of the Brahmaputra and up to 400m in the surrounding hills,

We found plants growing on the trunks of large trees where the pendulous stems reach our towards light.

The area shown here is on the edge of Kaziranga National Park which has lots of great orchids in the tree covered ridges amongst the lush grassland and wetland that is home to the worlds largest population of Black Rhino as well as large populations of Indian Elephant and Tiger.

We grow the species hanging in Warm Asia and spray it with rain water daily. Our clone is unusual in that it branches freely and produces up to four flower spikes from each growth each summer. Interestingly it grew very slowly in the cooler old greenhouse before we moved into our current greenhouse in 2010 and had a single growth with at most two flower stems. This is clearly a plant that like it hot. The fragrance by the way is a sweet lemon citrus.

It is great to have this plant in flower today as we have the BBC coming at 10am to plan the forthcoming filming for Countyfile.


365 days of orchids – day 149 – Maxillaria triloris

This large flowered Maxillaria is native to southe America and found from Venezuela to Ecuador as an epiphyte in forest from 800-1800m.

We find that it enjoys the conditions of cool damp and shade in Cool Americas although we move it onto a shelf when in flower so that the flowers stay in pristine condition away from drips.


365 days of orchids – day 148 – Encyclia bractescens

this is the most delicate of Encyclias. It comes from Central America and we have seen it in Belize a few miles inland from Belize city. Encyclias are Laelineae and so related to Cattleyas and Laelias and tend to have roundish pseudobulbs and thick stiff leaves. Encyclia bractescens is something of an exception with thin grass like leaves and small pseudobulbs. The long lasting flowers are large for the size of plant and although it seems slow to multiply up to being a specimen it is a rewarding plant to grow.

In Belize we found it growing as an epiphyte in regrowth forest in one of the villages that form the Community Baboon Sanctuary which is actually a sanctuary set up more that 25 years ago with WWF support that set up skeleton forest in a group of villages in Belize. Skeleton forest is continuous forest shared with villagers who all keep 50 yeard of forest at the edge of their land. Although called a Baboon reserve it is aimed at protecting Black Howler Monkeys which we have met and enjoyed watching (and hearing) in Guatemala, Costa Rica and Belize.

We saw Black Howler Monkeys in the reserve (see below) and lots of Orchids too. If you protect habitat for one species than all the biodiversity benefits.

One of the orchid was Encyclia bractescens growing as an epiphyte on the truck of a small tree in fairly open forest and dappled shade (shown nicely on our photograph). The altitude was around 100m above sea level.

 Flowering in Belize.

We grow this species in Warm Americas in a basket to give good drainage though we water well during the summer (wet season in Belize)