Tuesday, December 31, 2019

A new year in Rockhampton, central Queensland

The move from Townsville to Rockhampton at the end of 2019 was disruptive for my plants, and many of them resented the relocation by road. Some of my fussier species were knocked back during active growth by at least a year or even more from the move. As a result I decided to focus on some new terrestrials (geophytes), and purchased a variety of Australian native species including Nervilia species and some others. The Nervilia species were purchased from Ian Walters at Burleigh Park Orchids in Townsville and arrived as tubers via express post. However, I quickly realised that 'express' is not quite express when the destination is outside of the main shipping centres in Australia! They took three days to arrive and the other postage occupants, two Habenaria species (H. rhodocheila and H. medusa) were very stressed on arrival. After two days of TLC and a treatment with dilute Seasol, both Habenaria species responded well and made a full recovery and are currently growing steadily. The Nervilia species (N. aragoana and N. plicata) are growing rapidly, and their foliage is unique and impressive. It is certainly worth growing these for their foliage alone. 
Nervilia plicata sold as its synonym N. dallachyana - growth period = 10 days
Nervilia aragoana
Later this week I am expecting a shipment of Corybas, Diuris, Pterostylis, Thelymitra, and PterygodiumSatyrium and Serapias species. The first four are native Australian species, while the Pterygodium and Satyrium are South African, and the Serapias are European. All of these originate from culture, from Nesbitt's Orchids. I have also joined the Australian Native Orchid Society (Victoria) to learn more about the Australian native terrestrial species and to connect with some like-minded people. This summer I also hope to flower my young Phaius australis for the first time, which is growing like a weed, and my Geodorum densiflorum which woke up recently from a 6-months sleep. I expect that the habenarias will probably only flower next year or maybe towards the end of this new year. I am still actively on the hunt for additional Habenaria species and of course Bonatea speciosa.
Old sleepy - Geodorum densiflorum

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Lots of yellow for October and November

As I relocate to Rockhampton from Townsville, I have had to rely on photographs of some of my flowering orchids from my wife. At the end of November I will be moving the whole family down, as well as the remaining plants, so it is better that they get flowering done beforehand.

My wife took these below photos of my flowering Cymbidium aloifolium, which seems to increase its number of flowers annually per spike, Dendrobium lindleyi and Dendrobium fimbriatum, which both waited until I had left before opening those buds!

Cymbidium aloifolium
Dendrobium lindleyi
Dendrobium fimbriatum

Monday, October 14, 2019

Phalaenopsis explosion and my first Dendrobium aphyllum.

I have had great success this year with my Phalaenopsis, although my wife comments that I have far too many white ones! I am actually not sure how I ended up with mainly white ones, but they may have been gifts along the way. They grow like weeds here in Townsville. The images below are of three standard show sizes from largest to miniature, with the flower span of the large one about 13 cm across. There are 28 open blooms, and 6 remaining buds to open on 3 spikes on the single large plant. The flowers are so heavy that I have had to place its pot inside a larger pot with an additional kilogram of stones in it to prevent it from falling over. This one will be entered into a future show, likely 2020.

Very large white Phalaenopsis (13 cm blooms)
The others include a nice standard large (9-10 cm blooms), with great shape, and the miniature that just went crazy this year (3-4 cm blooms). I have two of these miniatures. The other one has about as many blooms on it, but they are not as tightly spaced.

Large standard white Phalaenopsis
Miniature white Phalaenopsis
Today I also had my first blooms open on my little Dendrobium aphyllum. I was surprised that this is actually a native species to northern Queensland, and it certainly is growing well outside just hanging under the pergola. The flower is faintly scented, similarly to that of D. tortile. The rest of my dendrobiums are all waking up nicely now, and I have already begun flooding them, especially my D. fimbriatum and D. lindleyi, both of which have multiple nodes shooting flower buds. My D. anosmum has finished flowering now but is growing new growth rapidly. On Friday this week I will pop round to a friend who is almost ready to split up his D. canaliculatum. I don't have this Queensland native yet, and the flowers look amazing (see here).

Dendrobium aphyllum

Friday, September 13, 2019

Dendrobium anosmum first flowering

I have been waiting for my Dendrobium anosmum to flower since it pushed out tiny buds back in July. I have been patiently waiting while watching the buds develop to full size. I have two of these; the other is about a month behind the first one. The flowers are fragrant, not overpowering, but pleasantly fragrant of raspberries or a similar fruit. I have been wanting to flower one of these for about 8 years now. I initially began growing my own from seed back in 2011 and 2012, but never got the opportunity to raise my seedlings to flowering size before leaving South Africa. This species seems to do quite well here in Townsville (dry tropics), as do many of the Dendrobium species. My larger plant has canes of about 70-80 cm long, and is currently also pushing out new growth.

Buds just starting to emerge in July

Buds the day before opening (12 September)
Fully opened bloom, about 10 cm across

Another perspective
The next morning

Monday, September 9, 2019

Dendrobium tortile opens first bloom

Over the last two days I have been photographing the progress of my Dendrobium tortile buds as they begin to open. I took several images over a few hours and selected the best to demonstrate the opening of the buds. I have some really nice looking Dendrobium anosmum also waiting to open their large swollen buds soon too. This species though is a real hurry-up-and-wait! It certainly takes its time to produce the buds and to grow them to flowering size - I have been waiting for ages, and I am getting impatient. I am sure though that the wait will eventually be worth it, and I look forward to posting images of its blooms too in the near future.

Sequence of photos showing the opening of a Dendrobium tortile bloom
Fully opened

Friday, September 6, 2019

Townsville Orchid Society spring show 2019

Today I went to the Townsville Orchid Society spring show to have a look at some of the spectacular plants in bloom, and to hopefully pick a few up for myself that were on sale. The show is being held from Friday 6th September to Sunday 8th September at the society's hall on Charles Street. 

Apart from the usual suspects, there were some really interesting species and hybrids displayed which caught my eye (and nose). One in particular, Cymbidium canaliculatum var. Sparkesii was just incredible to view. The plant was super healthy and bold, with flowers just beginning to open (see some pics below). This is certainly a species that I would eventually like to get for my growing collection in future! There were also some awesome (near perfect) Phaius tankervilleae specimens, one of which had blooms up to nearly my height.

There were some good plants on offer too. Many good seedlings were available for some species that are quite unusual - I managed to get an advanced seedling of Robiquetia cerina, and also the primary hybrid Psychopsis mariposa alba. I also picked up (nearly missed) a tiny Dockrillia cucumerina mounted on a tiny piece of cork bark, a healthy Dendrobium tortile, and D. aphyllum. I was disappointed however, that there were two separate vendors selling plants that were clearly diseased with Phyllosticta fungus, which is easily spread between plants, and should never have been allowed anywhere near the exhibited plants of members, let alone at an orchid show! I was also surprised that several species names listed on exhibition plants were misspelled. 

I have attached some pics below:

Ansellia africana

Bulbophyllum Ambrosia

Chysis bractescens

Cymbidium Australian Midnight

Cymbidium canaliculatum var. Sparkesii

C. canaliculatum var. Sparkesii close-up

Cynorkis fastigiata

Dendrobium Aussie Sweetness

Dendrobium capituliflorum

Dendrobium farmeri

Dendrobium lindleyi

Dendrobium secundum alba

Dendrobium secundum

Dendrobium speciosum

Dendrobium tortile

Phaius tankervilleae alba

Phaius tankervilleae

Phaius tankervilleae close-up

Phalaenopsis schilleriana

Renanthera Bella

Trias oblonga

(Vanda hindsii x V. luteola) x V. roeblingiana

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Rhynchostylis gigantea in bloom and some photo play

I have been spending much time lately simply taking in the incredible fragrance of my flowering Rhynchostylis gigantea. The neighbours must think I am weird when I perch myself on the ladder with my head in the blooms! I recently added R. gigantea 'spots' and R. gigantea 'Red' to my collection, although the missus insists that the latter is not red at all... I am still looking for the peach or orange variety.

Rhynchostylis gigantea 'alba'
Rhychostylis gigantea 'spots'
Rhynchostylis gigantea 'red'
While enjoying the rhynchos, I decided to play with some photograph to see how different the flowers might look with ultraviolet photography versus normal light spectrum photography. So, I took a picture of R. gigantea 'spots' with my Olympus stylus TG 860 tough (normal photography; Fig A, and then with my Nikon D3300 18-55 modified to ultraviolet only (UV photography; Fig B, converted to greyscale). It is interesting to note that the blooms reflect UV uniformly, and not differentially between pigments. In other words, the 'spots' don't seem to have any visual significance in the UV spectrum at all.

Fig A. Rhynchostylis gigantea 'spots' with the Olympus camera

Fig B. Rhynchostylis gigantea 'spots' UV photograph with the modified Nikon camera