Cattleya intermedia ‘coerulea’ – 365 days of orchids – day 1537

This is a stunning variety of one of our favourite Cattleya species.

Cattleya intermedia is bifoliate (two leaves on each pseudobulb) and comes from the Mata Atlantica (coastal Eastern Brazil) where we have seen it growing in forest at 1000m although it is present right down to scrub forest by the sea. This means it grows warm to intermediate and loves our Warm Americas Section (Minimum 15C) where we keep it right up in the roof of the greenhouse for maximum light and warmth.

The species is present over along a long coastal strip of Eastern Brazil and is renowned for its diversity in flower colour, shape and plant form. We have several clones which show some of this diversity and we will share them over the next few weeks – all our plants flower during March and April.

The Coerulea variety here is remarkable on a number of points. It is the smallest growing clone with the densest flower spikes – the basket it is growing in is 15cm diameter – and the semi-alba flowers have the best ‘blue’ of any of our coerulea cattleyas. The flowers are also scented – a fantastic plant.

It is interesting to note the work done by Brazilian enthusiasts to classify some of the diversity present in the species – link here



Masdevallia lappifera – 365 days of orchids – day 1536

Masdevallia is a wonderfully diverse genus and this medium sized species is a really spectacular one.

Masdevallia lappifera of one of our most robust and reliable Masdevallias. The large flowers are produced on short stems and are remarkable for the purple ‘hairs’ on the lip which give the species its name meaning the burred Masdevallia. The flowers are very long lasting and the species spends several months a year in flower.

The species is endemic to Ecuador and found at around 1200m. We grow Masdevallia lappifera mounted in Cool Americas and find that the species enjoys being kept well watered and shaded. In common with several related species with thick leaves M. lappifera can suffer spotting from heat stress if kept dry and bright.


Coelogyne flaccida – 365 days of orchids – day 1535

The cooler sections in the school greenhouse are in the midst of their spring peak with several Coelogyne species in flower to remind us of school expeditions to Himalayas.


We have seen this attractive and fragrant Coelogyne on our travels to Sikkim where we found it at around 1200m to 1500m altitude, growing both as an epiphyte in trees and as a lithophyte on steep rocky roadside slopes.

 Coelogyne flaccida in Sikkim

In both habitats it receives very wet, warm summers but dryer cool winter periods. The flowers are intensely fragrant with a scent that reminds me of honey one plant in flower soon fills the Cool Asia section with its scent.

As you can see the flower spikes are very pendulous and so growing the plant in a basket works well so that it can be hung up when in flower. It is a good idea to water very little when in flower as the flowers are damaged by water and of course it flowers in the dry season in Sikkim when the flowers can last for several weeks in good condition.

We also saw several cultivated plants in Sikkim showing what a plant can develop into.



Renanthera monachica – 365 days of orchids – day 1534

Renanthera is a small genus closely related to Vanda with several stunning orchids including this small growing species (the plant here is 25cm tall)

We grow Renanthera monochica in a basket hanging high in the roof of our Warm Asia section (minimun 17C) where it gets plenty of light and dries out between waterings. The species is endemic to the island of Luzon where it grows in hot lowland forest up to 500m altitude. The flowers look fragile but are very long lasting and mature plants like this one produce branched spikes. Different clones are quite varied in colour and spotting making this a species to look out for if you have the right conditions.

Renathera monachica grows alongside its cousin Renthera imschootiana which is wonderful but enormous (photo below), Renanthera monachica, on the other hand, flowers as a really small plant and so this is a renanthera for small spaces.



Wild Daffodils in the Mendips

The last 12 months have been very strange for us humans but it is reassuring to see that the natural world is carrying on as normal.

This time of year is great for visiting remnants of the Mendip Great Wood, on of England’s last ancient forests, to spot our native daffodil (Narcissus pseudonarcissus) flowering in abundance as it once did across the UK.

Native daffodils are smaller and much more delicate than the garden hybrids, and were once one of our most common wild flowers. Sadly, they have become a very rare sight, and need searching for. Seeing them in their splendour in this ancient oak and hazel coppice is makes the searching worthwhile. Flowers will be at their peak in mid-March to give a display like the the one below (taken in 2020)