Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Some new blooms this November

I have been pleasantly surprised with the flowering of some of my plants this year, and some of the growth put on in the last two. My Papilionanthe Amy literally went from a plant of about 40 cm long in October 2016 to just over 2 m tall today, having firmly cemented itself to a wooden pillar holding up the pergola. It flowered for the first time too, but beyond the height of the roof of the pergola which made it really interesting to photograph. I think the neighbours think I am crazy.

Papilionanthe Amy is a primary hybrid between P. hookeriana (see link here) and P. tricuspidata, (see link here) originally made in 1940. It has quite unusual flowers. 

Papilionanthe Amy
Other plants in flower include Myrmecophila tibicinis, and Cymbidium aloifolium. I was hoping I might get some Coelogyne parishii blooms this year, but all I got was foliage. A note on M. tibicinis - it has a very unique fragrance, almost a spicy mixed with a sweet smell which it seems to be able to switch on very rapidly indeed immediately after watering in the morning.

Myrmecophila tibicinis
Cymbidium aloifolium

Cymbidium aloifolium close-up of flower

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Orchid research: on the hunt

Dear readers

I would like to please request your assistance. I am currently looking for a post-doctoral research opportunity in one of my two foci of interest, orchid research/ orchid conservation, or in the marine sciences. If you know of anyone looking to fill a post-doctoral position in orchid research or conservation please drop me an email at hexabothriid@gmail.com.

Many thanks, David

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Cymbidium canaliculatum growing wild on campus at JCU, Townsville, Queensland, Australia

Cymbidium canaliculatum
I was shown this little colony of Cymbidium canaliculatum by one of the James Cook University Estate workers recently while organising a log for a mount for the Myrmecophyla tibicinnis. These plants are growing on top of a tall dead gum (see image below) that had preciously been cut after it had died. The plants established on their own, and I also recently found another seedling growing just a stone's throw away from these plants on a small bottlebrush tree. It is really good to see these plants doing so well. The one in the foreground has previously flowered (see dried, spent spike stalk).

High up on top of a dead gum tree
According to IOSPE, this species is found in the hollows of dead branches, and flowers in Spring. Here is a link to the university plant list, and the Atlas of Living Australia taxon page with distribution map and additional data.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Rhynchostylis gigantea alba flowering again



First flower opened today 17 June 2018, roughly a month earlier than previously. Note the yellow stippling
I have been waiting to see this old faithful again. This year it has produced about 85 blooms on two robust opposing spikes. The plant has flowered about a month earlier this year than previously, and was well fed from spike initiation through to flowering using "Garden basics plant food liquid fertiliser", which has a N:P ratio of 49:1; 4.9% N, 0.1% P, 2.4% K... makes you wonder what else is in it. It is easy to use and smells really rich, so I use it at about 2 ml per litre. The plants seem to enjoy this one - some recently mounted Myrmecophyla tibicinnis were given this fertiliser for the last few weeks, and they are all very quickly shooting new roots (see below), which is s really good sign. This species is usually quite reluctant to do anything for a while after being disturbed.

Myrmecophyla tibicinnis new root shoots
More on the mounting of the Myrmecophyla tibicinnis plant to come!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

First flowering of Vanda merrillii

Vanda merrillii first flower

Today after much stubbornness (since 2015) I finally got Vanda merrillii to bloom. This species originates from the island of Luzon in the Philippines. It is a warm grower according to IOSPE. I keep mine hanging outside under shade cloth. It gets some late afternoon direct sunlight and I keep it watered every second or third day in the heat here in Townsville. The roots seem to grow continuously all year. Some of this plant's roots are now nearly a metre long.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

In Memory of Patrick Donnelly, 13 Nov 1944 to 5 Oct 2017

Patrick photographing the endangered orchid Disa hallackii

Patrick sadly lost his battle with cancer on 5 October 2017. Here are a few of my personal thoughts of such a wonderful friend and mentor.

I met Patrick when I first moved to Hermanus with my family in 2012. I had contacted him through the Walker Bay Orchid Society and he was immediately welcoming. We shared a vast passion for orchids so we always had so much to talk about. I remember how fascinated he was in my hobby of orchid seed germination and flasking. He was a strong personality, upright and forthright - someone who I could get on with very easily. His knowledge of orchids was immense, as was his orchid collection. He always had something in bloom! I would frequently get an excited phone call about rare species in bloom to come and view. The excitement was also there when I reciprocated. I will always miss this.

Patrick was a great and true friend, and I would often seek only his counsel on various issues. I remember how supportive both he and his wife Dot were when Mel and I nearly lost our son after he was born, and again in difficult times before we left for Australia. Patrick always had a wise word to offer, and listening to his own experiences offered much hope and support, especially when I had no frame of reference of my own.

Patrick was well known and well-respected in the community. He was a natural leader and a cornerstone of the Walker Bay Orchid Society. He was always involved in so many things. He was an advocate for the conservation of the endangered Disa hallackii growing just down the road from his house, and had a genuine care for their ongoing protection and survival. He was always heavily involved with each annual orchid show event, which always seemed to be a resounding success. He always took the time to speak to everyone at the show, offering advice on growing various species and hybrids to the beginner as well as the advanced growers - a real gentleman.

We kept in touch frequently after I arrived in Australia, and it was always so good to hear his voice and to chat shop. He was strong and strong willed, but aware that he wouldn't be able to beat it this time. Slowly the time we could spend chatting became less and I often felt guilty for not being just around the corner to help him and Dot. To Dot and family my deepest sympathies for your loss. 

Farewell my friend and thank you for teaching me so much about such a great many things in such a short space of time. You are remembered with each orchid that blooms, with each walk I do into university, and always when talking shop. Rest in peace my friend.

You always enjoyed this one


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Myrmecophila tibicinis in Townsville

I had seen this very large specimen plant on my walk into university several times and have been waiting patiently for it to flower to see what it is. Today I took some photos. It is Myrmecophila tibicinis. It is a huge plant. The photo really doesn't do the size justice. It must be quite old. I imagine someone planted it in this tree many years ago and it has simply developed further in the ideal climate.