365 days of orchids – day 730 – Isabellia pulchella

Today we have a Brazilian species that I have seen described as a miniature orchid and though it flowers as a tiny plant, it grows into wonderful specimen plant over time. This plant has made a ball around a small basket and for the next few weeks will been covered in yummy little pink flowers from the top of the newest bulbs.

The species is native to cloud forest in the Mata Atlantica and enjoys growing cool and moist in our Cool Americas section and the moss growing in this plant has grown there by itself (we keep the moss under control so that it doesn’t smother the plant). As you can see the plant grows out in all directions and we find that wrapping it back on itself helps to keep a compact plant.


365 days of orchids – day 729 – Trisetella strumosa

For Boxing day we have another species new to 365 days and a delightful miniature endemic to Ecuador.

Trisetella is a genus of miniatures and Trisetella strumosa produces a small clump of 1cm long leaves and striking flowers on 6cm stems held well clear of the leaves. The flowers are very large for the size of the plant and particularly attractive thanks to the yellow blobs on the end of the sepal tails. To me there is something rather comical about the flowers that makes them very endearing.

The species is native to cloud forest from 1500-1600m elevation and so plants enjoy cool wet conditions in our Cool Americas section. We only grow plants mounted as this displays plants perfectly as well as avoiding moss smothering plants which can happen easily in pots.


Christmas in the greenhouse

The greenhouse on Christmas Day is always peaceful as the School is locked for the holiday and the campus is left for the local wildlife. This morning the local pair of Ravens (they nest in disused quarries nearby) are strutting about the grass looking for worms flushed out by the rain.

The greenhouse is full of winter slendour and spring promise.

The Temperate section has lots of grand Cymbidium spikes including the very fragrant Cymbidium tracyanum.

Cool America’s is still pink with Laelia anceps.

The classroom is full of sale plants ready for next tear’s shows.

Warm America’s has a wonderful display from the Barkerias.

Warm Asia and Cool Asia are full of buds and emerging flower spikes ready for the new year and everywhere plants are growing and flourishing.

It looks as though 2019 will be a great year – Happy Christmas


365 days of orchids – day 728 – Brassia verrucosa

We have a real cracker for Christmas this year!

Brassia verrucosa is a lovely species with dramatic flowers and our specimen plant with seven long spikes is so lovely that I am half expecting three wise men to come an pay homage to it!

Brassia verrucosa is commonly known as the spider orchid and has the most wonderful long spidery petals. It also has a relationship with a white spider in the wild. The spider hides camouflaged on the lip and catches insects attracted to the flower.

The plant is native to Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, as well as Venezuela and grows as an epiphyte in seasonally wet forest from 900 to 2400m. For us the species does best in Warm Americas where it is hung up for good light but is kept really wet during the summer growing season to build up the massive pseudobulbs that deliver the long arching sprays of flowers.

Last year has this plant had five spikes and as you can see from the photo rather dwarfed Naiya and Ed when they picked it up.

The name refers to the verrucose, or warty, lip with rather intriguing green warts on the creamy white ground.

Happy Christmas to orchid enthusiasts everywhere.


365 days of orchids – day 727 – Masdevallia gariae

For Christmas Eve we have a delightful little masdevallia endemic to Venezuela.

Another new species for 365 days this species grows at elevations from 1200 to 1500m in coastal forests where it experiences evenly cool and wet conditions throughout the year.

We grow plants in pots and baskets in our Cool Americas section where it grows glossy 6cm leaves and the dramatically striped 1cm flowers on upright 5cm stems that look at you and demand a close inspection.