Sunday, December 18, 2011

Wrapping up 2011

I can't believe how quickly this year has passed! It certainly was a busy year for me but I am happy with the year's progress with my orchids. My Phalaenopsis plants have been in perpetual flower almost all year and December is no exception. My wife has been very happy to have a steady supply of cut flowers in the house. Recently my AM/AOS awarded P. Winter Clouds Mendenhall clone flowered. I always wondered what exactly it was that could possibly be special about yet another large white Phalaenopsis. There are so many "copies" available pretty much everywhere but none of them come close to the form and the perfection of this clone's blooms. They are also extremely large flowers and are so heavy that the plant itself has to be weighed down so that the flowers dont pull it over. It is a clone well worth having in any collection.

Phalaenopsis Winter Clouds Mendenhall (AM/AOS)
Close up shot
I was most fortunate recently to receive a seedling of P. [Penang Girl ‘ Bullseye’ x (violacea courulea x violacea var. Mentawai) X violacea courulea ‘Keighley”] X violacea ‘Carolina Blue’ (Indigo breeding) from Dennis Williams from Somerset West, originally from Mike Boden's greenhouse in the UK. Mike is well known for his stunning blue Phalaenopsis hybrids. I have been nurturing the little seedling for just about a month now and I have now mounted it onto a raft and placed it onto the raft wall with some my other mounted orchids. It has done well so far and has grown a new leaf and some new roots already. The other Phalaenopsis species which I have mounted on the raft wall are growing well and the P. sanderiana is spiking now. There seems to be no end in sight to the length of the spike which is already nearly 50cm long. I am looking forward to seeing the blooms for the first time. Hidden away on the corner of the raft wall is a mounted Dendrobium hybrid (no name) that I photographed earlier in the year when the plant I bought was in bloom. I since took some of the keikis off the mother plant and mounted them and these are in flower now. The mother plant is not in flower though.
Phalaenopsis seedling from Dennis Williams
Mounted Dendrobium hybrid
In 2009 a new intergeneric hybrid bewteen Angraecum sesquipedale and Doritaenopsis (Phalaenopsis) Ruey Lih Beauty was registered with the RHS. The new genus was named Chouara and the new hybrid was called C. Kaohsiung Dream. This is the only representative of the gensu currently and looking at the photo of the flower it seems a little drab. So, I decided to make some more. I have crossed one of my A. sesquipedale plants with two of my most striking Phalaenopsis hybrids with spots! I guess time will tell but below is a photo of the two pods that have taken.
Chouara in the making!
Well, 2012 is just around the corner and there is much to do. I have many baby orchids to tend to in the New Year that will need re-plating and potting up. With my move away from SIGMA to a private lab for media preparations I am also hoping to reduce my overhead costs significantly. Here's to a blooming good New Year! All the best from me and all my plants. I will be back again in January and by then hopefully I will have some photos to present of the first flowering of my Ascocenda hybrid that is spiking now.
Ascocenda hybrid spikes



Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Coelogyne tomentosa (syn: C. massangeana) and a red Cattleya

After the spider experience I have been cautiously inspecting my Coelogyne tomentosa (previously C. massangeana) for flowers. The flower spike grew very rapidly. In fact I could see a difference in its length from the morning to the evening in the same day! The spike carried about 20 buds which opened recently. The flowers are pleasantly fragrant in the morning and in the evening but during the middle of the day they seem to lose their fragrance. I keep my plant next to my Phalaenopsis plants and it gets misted automatically 3 times during the day. Temperatures range from 18 Degrees C at night to 30 during the day with a high humidity and good air movement. Light is the same for my Phalaenopsis - semi-shade (about 60%).

At the same time that the C. tomentosa flowered I spied some maturing buds from a very old Cattleya hybrid that I purchased along with the greenhouse earlier this year. Unfortunately the tag is missing from this specimen but I am hoping to get it identified from the image of the flowers I recently took. The flowers are a deep velvet red. It is probably the most intense red I have ever seen before in an orchid. The camera which captured the image below did not do justice to the colour unfortunately but it does give an idea of its beauty.
unidentified red Cattleya hybrid

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Beauty and the beast!

I have always been wary of surprise encounters with temporary visitors to the greenhouse. I have witnessed the odd snake in the greenhouse as well as various lizards and of course the multitude of resident spiders. There is even a mystery resident who has made a home in the ceiling exhaust fan ducting. Whatever it is it must have wings to have got in there from the outside in the first place and I suspect it is a bat. This evening I went into the greenhouse to make sure all was happy and to admire the flowers in the dimming light. I began to straighten out a spray of pendulous Coelogyne massengeana buds that are about to open. The spray of buds drapes over a large Phalaenopsis plant and as I straightened it out, focusing on the many flower buds, I noticed that the Phalaenopsis leaf colouration just centimetres from my hand was not green at all but a shiny black... I leaned forward to get a closer look but this time a cold shiver ran the length of my spine as I realised that I was beeing stared back at! I had never seen such a large baboon spider so close up before, not to mention right next to my hand! She was a beauty. A perfect and shiny black voluptuous specimen - a true greenhouse guardian. She had obviously been starting her evening roam or hunt or maybe my entrance startled her but she seemed quite intent on keeping a beady eye on me. She never showed any sign of aggression towards me even as I must have fumbled over her while staightening the flower spray. It suddenly made me wonder what else may be calling the greenhouse home. What on Earth is she eating in there!? I am by no means a fan of spiders but this African lady had an air of grace about her. I wonder who else I might discover in time to come? Here is a pic - enjoy.

The visitor...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Some November blooms

Hello everyone

I have been very busy flasking many more different species from various parts of the world as well as some of our local species. I will post some flask pics soon when I have a moment to remove some to photograph. I harvested my Phalaenopsis hieroglyphica pod after 7 months on the mother plant. It was still green but I decided to remove it because the plant was stressing a bit. The pod was full of ripe seeds and I hope they germinate well in the weeks to come.

I have included a few images of a very large white Cattleya, C. quicksilver, an old hybrid registered in 1963 from seed parent C. Dorothy Mackaill and pollen parent C. White blossom. I have since crossed this one with my flowering Rhyncholaelia hybrid so it will be interesting to see if it works.

Two new Phalaenopsis species arrived last week from Nollie, P. lindenii and P. lowii. I mounted both plants onto cork rafts and have placed them with some of the other more demanding species on the mounts wall in the greenhouse. The P. lowii originated from Europe and as a result it is in a state of dormancy. In fact this is one of the only species of Phalaeanopsis that will actually undergo a state of dormancy and lose its leaves. My plant has a single leaf which remains so I do hope that it recovers. I am looking forward to some flowers of both species in the years to come.

Cattleya quicksliver dorsal view
C. quicksilver
Phalaenopsis lindenii
P. lowii (dormant)


Monday, October 24, 2011

Orchid Walks

Besides the walk David and I had done near Worcester, I have been to some other locations as well to photograph some orchid species in situ. I had been to Gansbaai a few weeks back and found some good colonies of Satyrium carneum and Bonatea speciosa. Unfortunately the B. speciosa had already flowered and was starting to die back and I did not get any pics.

Satyrium carneum


S. carneum colony on the dunes

S. carneum

I had also been to Klienmond a while back and went to explore a recently burnt area near the Palmiet river. I had found some species but the photos are not that great as my camera lens was a little dirty.

Disa conferta

D. conferta close up.

Holothrix sp.

Disa bracteata
Satyrium sp.
Satyrium parviflorum
Disa atrorubens
D. atrorubens var. unknown
This past weekend David and I went for a walk in the local mountains here in Worcester and got some good photographs of orchid species.

Ceratandra sp.

I first thought this was Ceratandra bicolor. I have not been able to identify this species.

Ceratandra colonies.
Colony close up.


Pterygodium acutifolium
P. acutifolium close up.
Satyrium bracteatum

We had seen many other species that where not in flower yet. Hopefully I will be able to get up there and take some pics of them in a few weeks.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Gorgeous flowers and a walk over the mountain

Many of you who know me will know that I have never really had much enthusiasm for the Catlleya alliance. I "inherited" some seriously large and old specimen plants when I purchased the greenhouse from an elderly gentleman earlier this year. The plants were unfortunately neglected but after some loving care they recovered well and many of them have rewarded me with some exotic and very beautiful flowers. I have a new-found fondness for these flowers... and they are growing on me :). I have attached images of flowering Laeliocattleya Tropical Pointer "Galaxy" and Rhyncholaelia digbyana X (Cattleya Snowdrift X C. Eucharis). The latter gives off a very strong fragrance in the morning which fills the entire greenhouse.
Laeliocattleya Tropical Pointer "Galaxy"
Rhyncholaelia digbyana X (Cattleya Snowdrift X C. Eucharis)
This weekend I was invited to visit Bradley in Worcester for a hike up the mountain looking for any local species that might be in flower that we could photograph. We were keen to see if any Disa species were flowering. Apart from the odd Satyrium species that had already finished flowering and had set seeds, we came accross some very interesting species. The Disa atricapilla were out in force and we discovered quite a number of them just about to flower. Unfortunately we could not find any with open blooms. We also found a curious little yellow Ceratandra species. Bradley took some good photos of the flower to get it identified. The walk was great and it was wonderful to see these local species in their natural habitat. What surprised me the most was how confined they seem to be to isolated patches of microhabitat. You could find a significant grouping of these species together in one area but nowhere else for tens or hundreds of metres. I had a wonderful time and I hope that Bradley posts some of his images soon :)

The view
Disa atricapilla
Ceratandra sp. with buds
Bradley preparing to photograph Ceratandra sp. open flower


Sunday, October 9, 2011

The new laminar flow and some October babies

Finally, after waiting nearly two months I received my Hepa filter from Germany and installed it into the new laminar flow hood. The laminar flow was built according to the specifications that I put up on the blog in a previous post. I cautiously tested the unit the other day for any contamination. I ran the hood for 30 minutes with an open plate of medium and then incubated the plate for 72 hours to check for microbiological contamination. After all was well, I started to play. I must say that it makes working with seeds and re-plates a lot less stressful. Still, I have a healthy respect for sterility :)

Laminar flow in use
I have had marked success recently with some Dendrobium species from Thailand and some of my own seeds. My dry seed protocol is working well now, even with slightly more sensitive species. I have attached some images of germinating seeds of some of the Dendrobium species and some others below. However, I am having a few issues with Phalaenopsis protocorms. I get good germination but poor protocorm differentiation currently. I am tweaking the media to eliminate possible causes and hopefully soon, through process of elimintaion, I can report back with some better success here. So far, I have managed to raise a few P. lowii protocorms and some P. purple gems. More mother flasks of various hybrids are awaiting germination on tweaked media.

Dendrobium griffithianum
Dendrobium hercoglossum
Dendrobium heterocarpum
Dendrobium lituiflorum
Dendrobium parishii
Dendrobium signatum

Dendrobium wardianum

Anacheilium cochleatum
Dendrobium annosum
My Eulophias are also doing very well. I seem to have tackled the proliferation problem of the protocorms with a change of media type and have since moved some seedlings of Eulophia speciosa into the greenhouse to grow on further. I have attached some images here of Casper's E. angolensis and E. clavicornis that are nearing readiness to be sent off. I have also included images of the developing seedlings of Bradley's Mystacidium capense and my Polystachya anceps.

Casper's Eulophia clavicornis
Casper's Eulophia angolensis
Polystachya anceps
Bradley's Mystacidium capense
Lastly, I have included a few images of my flowering Cyrtorchis chailuana. I have been looking forward to these flowers for a while and they are heavily scented in the evening to attract hawk moths. I have selfed a few and have two pods developing. Bradley was kind enough to give me some Angraecum eberneum pollen to use in hybridisation but none of these took unfortunately.

Cyrtorchis chailuana