Saturday, December 29, 2012

Fiery start to the 2013 orchid season

Voëlklip, Fernkloof Nature Reserve begins to burn
Flames march down towards the houses
As I report this, several Huey fire-fighting helicopters and a large Oryx from the South African National Defence Force are flying low repeatedly over our house in Voëlklip in Hermanus collecting seawater from the beach just streets away and bombing a large wild fire that is raging in the Fernkloof Nature Reserve and threatening homes just streets above us towards the mountain. The fire is being fanned by strong North-westerly winds and the road (R43) from Hermanus to Stanford has been closed. The fire is travelling fast and came over the top of the mountain from the Caledon side two days ago. It then moved West from Stanford towards Hermanus. It arrived opposite us at 03:20 this morning. Since I took the photos of the mountain early this morning the fire has moved down the slope towards the homes. The fire-fighters and other emergency service personnel are doing an amazing job and I take my hat off to those pilots, guided by a spotter plane who are continually bombing the fire line. I managed to take a few pics of the Oryx which had to land this morning to wait for a re-fuel. Ironically, I found a dried out Disa bracteata just a stones throw away from it!
 
Oryx waiting for re-fuel

Water bombing bucket
On the upside, the fire comes at a good time for the many orchid species in Fernkloof Nature Reserve. I counted 69 listed terrestrial orchid species on the list of plants from Fernkloof Nature Reserve. Most have probably already set seeds and have dried out in time for their Summer dormancy. Many of the South African terrestrial species actually need periodic burns to thrive which forms a critical process for the Fynbos of the Cape Floristic Region. The Spring season of 2013 will be especially rich with orchids and other plants which will be out in numbers after this fire. I am looking forward to this. A good webpage that describes the relationship between the local plants and fires can be found by following the link to the Fernkloof Nature Reserve webpage: http://fernkloof.com/veldfires.mv . I guess one thing we residents will need to keep an eye out for now is the exodus of wildlife including venomous snakes coming down from the mountains to escape the flames. We already have some interesting birds in the garden which we have never had at home before. We have several Cape Sugarbirds (Promerops cafer) taking up temporary home in our large bottlebrush tree.
 


Friday, December 28, 2012

Some tissue culture tips and success secrets

I was browsing through the stats on the blog recently to see what subject seems to be the most popular. It appears as though there are a lot of would-be amateur tissue culture hobbiests out there with a keen interest in how to get started but also how to get things done properly with little fuss. I have read some interesting articles on the internet about home tissue culture of orchids and what methods to follow. Most are basic repetition of the blah-blah basics with some useless stuff perpetuated. Some are good though, especially those which dispense with the drivel about useless or over-complicated techniques. One such "technique" is the tea-bag or waterproof paper technique for surface sterilising dry orchid seeds. Equally irritating is the syringe-method which I threw out many moons ago (in fact about a week after I started). So... since I am abviously irritated by things that challenge my impatience I have decided to share some simple techniques with you that actualy work. In fact, so much so that my entire seedling collection is based upon these since most were cultured as dry seeds.  

Dettol hand sanitiser
In previous and slightly aged posts, I indicated the importance of understanding the concept of sterility. This is a crucially important first step. Sterility does not mean clean or disinfected, it means absolutely sterile - ie - nothing living! Now consider that everything that is not sterile is covered in bacteria and fungal spores and other microscopic organisms that are just waiting for an opportunity to spread and to multiply. Your basic view now should be that of an obsessive compulsive with a phobia of germs! Possible transmission routes include YOU (your skin, hair, breath, clothes etc.), the air, all surfaces, your tools and kit and the orchid seeds themselves. Some of the most stubborn of bacteria I find are those associated with the actual seeds! Ok, so most of you would be aware that absolutely everything would need to be sterilised before success can be achieved with germinating orchid seeds in vitro. My archived post on building and using my laminar flow hood should provide you with some basic and useful information on building your own hood for orchid seed use. Although you can do seeds in a glove box or sterile still-air cabinet which I also did at the very beginning, you will never achieve the rate of success that you will with a laminar flow hood. It's worth spending the time and the bucks to make it. Mine cost approximately R2000 for all the materials and construction. For the US readers this equates to about $250. All my tools are cleaned before being sterilised in a 10 quart 15/16 bar pressure cooker for 30 minutes. I wrap all my tools in aluminium foil first so that I can remove them without actually touching them and can transfer them to the laminar flow hood where they can be carefully unwrapped under sterile air and placed into a sterile jar ready for use. I also try not to store too much ready-made plates of media in the fridge and prefer to make a batch of new media the same day or the day before and to allow these to set in the laminar flow with the Hepa running until I use them (so plan ahead - it helps avoid unnecesary non-sterile exposure). Wash your hands and forearms well before working in the hood. Use a good non-sticky hand sanitiser like the one made by Dettol (kills 99.9% germs). Use this liberally on your hands, making sure you get it under your nails and remember to remove your rings and watch before working. I routinely wipe down the inside of the hood working chamber with neat sodium hypochlorite solution before commencing with any work. When the hood is not in use I have a hinged door that seals off the front of the chamber to prevent incidental aerial contamination that might threaten the viability of my Hepa. 

Holstered auto-pipette and pipette box
Now for the good stuff. Buy yourself an automatic pipette like the one in the photo. These often come in standard starter packs supplied by almost all of the lab consumable companies. They are a standard feature of molecular laboratories. However, ensure that the one which you get is fully autoclavable. The unit can be wrapped in foil and autoclaved as for all the other tools. Those which are not fully autoclavable can be used but you will need to familiarise yourself with all the internal parts and how to dismantle and reassemble them. All these parts must be placed into a plastic container and completely covered with a 40% hydrogen peroxide solution for 30 minutes before rinsing in sterile water and reassembled ready for use (so... just get those which are fully autoclavable - it is MUCH easier). The starter packs usually also come with pipette tips supplied in an autoclavable box. If not, just get a box of tips and a bag of replacement tips from the same supplier to fit your pipette. These are dead-cheap and disposable and fully autoclavable. I suggest that you get yourself either a 200µl or 1000µl pipette and tips. These two sizes are often the most common and are also the most appropriate for the job depending on the working space which you have. I use 200µl pipette and tips.

Now purchase a bag of eppendorf tubes from the same lab consumables supplier (see pic). There are various volumes to choose from but get the graduated 1500µl or 2000µl tubes with lockable caps. Your next investment will be a vortex mixer (see pic) which will ensure that the seeds will be continuously aggitated and mixed with the sterilising agent for the correct amount of time and will avoid dead-spots associated with other techniques. Vortexing in the eppendorfs also concentrates the seeds nicely allowing better control for rinsing and pouring of seeds onto plates. Eppendorfs are also autoclavable and I place a fistful into a polypropylene tub with a sealable lid dry into the pressure cooker for sterilising. Once sterile, I remove this tub of eppendorfs to the laminar flow. You can include the vortex mixer inside the laminar flow if you have the space but you can also have it next to the hood on the working bench if you wish. In the hood you should also have a sterile flask of RO water and a flask of pre-made sodium hypochlorite solution to which some surfactant has been added. Use the following concentration of non-perfumed liquid sodium hypochlorite: 120ml tap water to 20ml neat household sodium hypochlorite solution (3.5% m/v). Add a few drops of Tween20 or household dish-washing liquid (not too much or it will foam too much!). The surfactant facilitates good soaking by allowing the sodium hypochlorite solution to "stick" to the surface of the seeds.

Vortex mixer
Sterile eppendorfs
When ready to start, put the dry seeds onto a folded piece of paper and funnel into a sterile eppendorf tube. Inside the hood under full flow, push the pipette onto a tip in the box and close the box again. Do not allow the pipette or tip to touch any surfaces unintentionally while working. If this happens discard the tip by depressing the eject button on the pipette and begin again with a new tip. Take up a metered solution of sodium hypochlorite (200µl if you are using a 200µl pipette and tip; the pipette is adjustable to volume - pre-set the volume before you sterilise) and add repeatedly to fill the eppendorf to about 3/4 full. Holster the pipette and close and lock the eppendorf cap. Vortex on high for 5 minutes. Shake initially with your hand before vortexing to loosen any seed clumps. At 4 minutes remove from the vortex mixer temporarily to view the buoyancy of your seeds. If they are nearly neutrally buoyant/slighly heavier than the solution, allow the final minute for the seeds to settle at the bottom of the eppendorf tube. If they sink quickly, you can allow them to settle at the end of the 5 minutes. Some seeds with float, especially those of terrestrial orchids. Allow these to collect at the miniscus. For seeds that collected at the bottom of the eppendorf carefully pour off the sodium hypochlorite solution inside the laminar flow hood into an awaiting empty waste receptacle which was also previously sterilised in the pressure cooker. The seeds will remain at the bottom of the tube after the solution has been poured off. Hold in one hand inside the hood and with the other hand charge the pipette with a new tip (expel the old tips into the waste receptacle) and take up sterile RO water and add to the tube to 3/4 full again. Close and lock the cap and vortex again for 30 seconds. The seeds will appear heavier in the RO water (sinking faster) because of the reduced specific gravity of the solution. Allow seeds to collect again at the bottom of the tube and pour off all the water. Repeat again with a new tip and RO water and vortex to mix all the seeds again. This time, pour the entire contents onto your awaiting plate and seal. Floating seeds are a bit tricky because you have to work them to the bottom of the tube by holding the tube horizontally while carefully twisting it from side to side between your fingers. You will lose some seeds during the above process but with experience you will get a feel for it and get to a point where you lose almost nothing.


I do all of my dry seed work as above. I have found it produces superior results and minimises contamination. I hope you found this post useful. I would love to hear your thoughts and your experiences.



Friday, December 21, 2012

A few odds and ends

Today I have included a few odd bits of interest. The first is a crossing I did using Gomesa flexuosa (syn. Oncidium flexuosum) and Oncidium sphacelatum. I crossed the two species because I wanted to see if the hybrid would be more cold tolerant but with more flowers. The seedlings are growing like mad! The hybrid is registered with the RHS as Oncidesa goldiana. I hope to flower it in the next few years.
 
Oncidium sphacelatum
Gomesa flexuosa
Oncidesa goldiana
The next is a photo I just took of the Euliophia speciosa seedlings I kept from the first batch of seeds I did in 2010. They are doing well and getting quite large now. Their pseudobulbs are underground, fat and healthy. The foliage is rigid and thick. The seedlings definitely benefit from a shallower tray with sandy substrate. They also enjoy heavy waterings between short periods of drying off.
 
Eulophia speciosa
The last photo was taken by Richard King of one of my flasks of Dendrobium harveyanum which contains a seedling that had flowered in vitro! This is not unheard of but it is not a common occurance.
 
Dendrobium harveyanum (photo by Richard King)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Returning to tissue culture

I mentioned previously that I had decided to return to tissue culture at home, although space and TIME remains a serious luxury. As many of you will be aware, I joined the Walker Bay Orchid Society here in Hermanus shortly after I relocated here. The area is a biodiversity hotspot and boasts many different species of native terrestrial orchids. Some of these are endangered, especially those in the low-lying regions that are subjected to urban sprawl, farming and the spread of alien vegetation.
 
I have been in discussion with one of the members of the WBOS about our involvement in conservation of these local species which was briefly mentioned at the last AGM. Of particlar concern is a small local colony of Disa hallackii in Vermont. This species is considered one of the most threatened of all South African orchids and is currently listed as an endangered species on the SA red data list. We have approached the Vermont Conservation Trust through Mr. Duncan Heard who forwarded our correspondence to various role-players in Cape Nature and local government. We proposed to culture seeds in vitro collected from a known source and to raise seedlings that could be acclimated and returned to other localities under the control of Cape Nature. I have offered my time and my skills to do this free of charge in support of this species' local conservation. I believe in taking action, not just sitting around a few remaining plants in the wild and hoping they will remain there for my young daughters to see one day. The reality is that this species is in decline and if we don't mitigate the threats to this species by utilising our collective knowledge and skills I fear that it will become yet another memory of failed hope.
 
We are still waiting for a response to our proposal from all those recipients. In the mean time Patrick Donnelly and I have been actively looking into the permiting requirements which will allow us to proceed. I have ordered and received the media for the work and I have begun to optimise an experimental recipe using other terrestrial orchids from my own collection. One of my recipes was also recently used by Richard King for Disa uniflora which he found to provide significant shoot growth.
 
Lets hope that this story carries a happy ending...
 

15 December 2012: Follow up

Today I went to the plot in Vermont with Patrick and Dot Donnelly to see the Disa hallackii for myself. I felt an overwhelming sense of priveledge being there and seeing the few remaining plants in the entire area. The last count was 17 individual plants. We only counted 10 in the whole time we were there. What's worse is that this plot of land IS going to be developed and stands are already demarkated for several houses to be built. Much rubbel has also been dumped on this site close to the road. The majority of the area was previosuly covered by Port Jackson, which have since been cut down. However it is clearly evident that the remaining Disas are only found in the clear areas where the Port Jackson had not yet invaded and this is only a thin band! Since 19 November when my intial request for support went out to various role-players, I am disappointed to report that I have had no response from anyone yet - nearly a month later. C'mon CapeNature and local government! Please get involved! If you can't see the value in acting and acting NOW, then how do we maintain our faith in you and what you are mandated to protect?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Arpophyllum giganteum

Arpophyllum giganteum
Today I visited Patrick Donnelly from the Walker Bay Orchid Society after work. Patrick very kindly gave me one of his Arpophyllum giganteum specimens. This was the first time I have seen this species in cultivation. The plant is large with beautiful strap-type tall leaves. The flower inflorescence is striking against the contrast of the leaves and the many tiny pink flowers are resupinate which is rather intriguing. I have taken a few pics at various distances. I have also pollinated a few flowers to see if I can get some pods to develop. The pollinia are blue!
 
Patrick mentioned to me that the species can be grown in full sunlight. Additional information on the web suggests that it can be grown as per cool-growing Cattleyas but that it needs a cold Winter to trigger flowering in Sping
 
Thank you once again Patrick!
 
Closer view (and upside-down)
Single (upside-down) bloom

Friday, November 9, 2012

Eulophia streptopetala?

Eulophia streptopetala?

This rather stunning Eulophia is currently flowering at home in Hermanus. All my Eulophias have done particularly well. One thing is puzzling though. Last year this same plant produced flowers that looked more like those of Eulophia parvilora... so much so that since I bought this plant (also labelled as E. parviflora, but not in flower at that time), I thought it actually WAS E. parviflora! I am certainly not disappointed and I will be taking this plant for viewing at the plant table at next Thursday's Walker Bay Orchid Society meeting for some general interest and feedback. It looks more like E. streptopetala though doesn't it? Your thoughts are always welcome.
 
I will take my camera through to the meeting next week to report back on what else is brought to the plant table. I am looking forward to the meeting. It will be my first.
 
Close-up of single flower
 The follow-up:

Well, today was the day to go to the Walker Bay Orchid Society meeting not last week and not Thursday! Thanks to Patrick Donnelly of the society I made it today! I'm afraid I left my camera behind but I was most impressed with the quality of the plants at the plant table. One in particular stood out for me from all the rest - a beautiful specimen of Vanda bensonii. Check the link (click on the name) for pics on the net. One thing is striking though, the flowers are powerfully scented but pleasantly so. I could smell the flowers sitting some 5 or 6 metres away from the plant. I took the Eulophia along. It attracted some interested folk, some of whome had never seen the plant before. I am proud of my little Eulophia.
 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Satyrium coriifolium: Houwhoek mountains

Close-up shot of an individual flower of Satyrium coriifolium
Finally we had some out-doorsy weather here in the overberg so I went for a walk into the Houwhoek mountains to see what orchids were flowering. at approximately 357m above sea-level I came accross a huge colony of Satyrium coriifolium standing like flames amongst the other vynbos. Most of them seemed to be growing along the path of a wide seep which went on and on forever. Although many of the plants were in flower there were countless numbers of younger plants that were not yet mature enough to flower. I will return to this spot in years to come to see how they flower! Anyway, here are some pics.
S. coriifolium
The same plant
Large colony
Lots of immature plants around

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Letter to the Overberg Municipality - Gansbaai

Follow-up so far (18 December 2012)

 
Although absolutely no response from the Overberg Municipality was received to date (since 25 October 2012), the letter was handed to the mayoress of our region yesterday at a meeting of the Rate-Payers Association. I am sure that we can expect a formal response in due course from the Overberg Municipality...
 
The following letter with the subject line "Complaint: Satyrium carneum and municipal mowing" was emailed to the Gansbaai office of the Overberg Municipality this afternoon (25 October 2012). I await their response, which I will also publish here.
 
"Dear Sir/Madam
I am writing to you to find resolution for the serious concern that I have regarding the destruction of the flowering Satyrium carneum (Orchidaceae), an IUCN endangered species listed South African rare, endemic geophyte in the servitude of public open space entering the town of Gansbaai on either side of the roadway (with specific reference to the recently mowed seaward-facing side).
The Overstrand Plot Clearing Policy is clear in its purpose and its responsibilities, indicating amongst others that the authorised officials of the local municipality have the final decision in when and how a plot of land is cleared. However, The National Heritage Resources Act (Act no. 25 of 1999) requires local authorities to compile inventories of heritage resources within their area of jurisdiction. The Overstrand Municipality has appointed the Overstrand Heritage Landscape Group to compile such an inventory and to grade heritage resources in terms of the criteria identified in the Act. The Act identifies that the heritage resources of South Africa which are of cultural significance or other special value for the present community and for future generations must be considered part of the national estate and fall within the sphere of operations of heritage resources authorities. The Act specifies a place or object is to be considered part of the national estate if it has cultural significance or other special value because of (not limited to) its possession of uncommon, rare or endangered aspects of South Africa’s natural or cultural heritage. Our endemic and endangered species therefore must form part of our natural heritage.
The area of land mentioned above contains an incredible concentration of the endangered species S. carneum. This species is in full flower at this time in the area and is pollinated by sunbirds. The plant dries out shortly after flowering, allowing the dispersal of seeds by wind. The plant then remains dormant underground in the form of a tuber which gives rise to subsequent growth in the following season. The mowing of the servitude before the plants have had opportunity to set viable seeds to further future generations is ignorant and irresponsible and jeopardises the viable continuity of this local colony. Additionally, the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, Act 10, 2004 defines a “threatening process” as “a process which threatens, or may threaten- (a) the survival, abundance or evolutionary development of an indigenous species; (b) the ecological integrity of an ecosystem” and states that “a municipality must adopt an integrated development plan in terms of the Local Government: Municipal Systems Act, 2000 (Act No. 32 of 2000), and take into account the need for the protection of listed ecosystems.” Further to this, no person may carry out a restricted activity involving a specimen of a listed threatened or protected species without a permit issued in terms of Chapter 7 of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act. Restricted activity includes (but is not limited to) “picking parts of, or cutting, chopping off, uprooting, damaging or destroying, any specimen of a listed threatened or protected species.”
It is obvious that there is conflict here. However, it should be remembered that in the event of any conflict between a section of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act and a municipal by-law, the section of the Act prevails.
Therefore, I would like to exercise my right to freedom of information and request firstly to view your (and/or contractor’s) permit issued under Chapter 7 of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act to undertake the restricted process of mowing on this land, and I would like to request a copy of your integrated development plan highlighting the listed protected ecosystems in the area. In addition, I would like to discuss a remedial plan to conserve these (and other) endangered plant species by the simple integration of protocols to avoid future problems as indicated above.
I look forward to hearing from you."

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Spring has sprung, and I am back!

Hello again. Many things have changed since my last post at the onset of Winter!
 
Firstly, with great thanks to Bradley, my greenhouses and the majority of my collection were moved to Bradley's residence in Worcester after I accepted a new job in the Hermanus area. We relocated to Hermanus and it has taken some time to adjust and to settle into all the new things. I miss being able to walk through my plants and view how things are flowering and how they are growing but Bradley has been kind enough to keep me updated with cell phone images of flowering plants from time to time. Unfortunately I have had to stop working on the in vitro side of things for now but I have retained all of my hardware for the time when I can hopefuly get stuck into it again. With the new job I doubt whether this will be any time soon.
 
Secondly, All of my Phalaenopsis seedlings of my various hybrids were loaned to the Cape University of Technology in Cape Town for an MSc project looking at the cryopreservation of orchids and other bits 'n pieces including cloning techniques. An inventory of flasks was given to them and all of the seedlings produced will be returned to me in a year or two after the completion of the study. So far they are growing well according to the head of department of botany. My more demanding species from various parts of the world that required further in vitro work went to Richard at King Plants for grow-on and I got to see how they were getting on a few weekends ago when I popped in for a visit. It is always a pleasure to visit Richard. I am always amazed with the awesome quality of all of his plants!
 
Satyrium carneum in the garden
I have been keeping my eye out for any local terrestrial species in the area and recently I was fortunate to spot some Satyrium carneum growing in Gaansbaai. Unfortunately just the other day the local municipality went through the area with mowers and flattened the entire lot! I thought that they could at least have waited until the flowers had set some seeds. In fact, I will draft a letter to them to voice my opinion and let's see what their response will be. On S. carneum, my specimens have flowered too and I put some in the garden amongst some other indigenous plants. I have a pair of lesser-collared sunbirds nesting in the garden with a single chick and they have been very busy (messy) pollinating the flowers. I do wonder though how on earth these birds actually get it right since I am constantly finding pollinia all over the place, except inside the flowers!
 
S. carneum close-up
In addition, some of the plants which I did take along with me to the new house in Hermanus seem to be doing well. My Eulophias seem to enjoy the climate and E. streptopetala and E. parviflora are both sending out spikes now. My seedling E. speciosa which I grew from seeds are also doing very well and very large, as are my seedling Bonatea speciosa. The largest B. speciosa was sending out its first blooms but the wind snapped it off so I will have to wait until next year. My adult B. speciosa has been flowering recently and I have pollinated some flowers successfully. The plant sits next to my front door and gives off the most wonderful scent in the evening.
 
Bonatea speciosa in flower
 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Winter's contrasts

Well, Winter is officially here now after the last week of cold fronts and some good rain in the Western Cape. I had my first low-level temperature alarm the other night in the greenhouse signalling the coldest night so far this year. I have been taking advantage of the cold clear nights after the cold fronts to shock my Dendrobium nobile and D. tortile into flowering. They have been hung outside the greenhouse at night to appreciate the chilly weather and have responded with some good leaf drop. I also quite by acccident noticed that my D. goldschmidtianum was budding as a result of the cooler conditions. I am looking forward to these blooms!
Dendrobium nobile
Dendrobium tortile

Dendrobium goldschmidtiaum buds
D. goldschmidtianum close up
So, while some plants are getting ready for their winter rest period, others are just beginning to send out new flower spikes. I have been keeping a close eye on my Holcoglossum wangii which has pushed out a single spike (its first ever). The buds are developing well. This species is particularly beautiful and is also a relatively recent discovery having been described as late as 1998. It is found in China and North Vietnam. Just South (literally) of my H. wangii on my mount wall is my Phalaenopsis lowii which has been indecisive it seems over the last few months. Finally it has settled in I think and has produced a new leaf or two as well as a short, developing flower spike. The plant is still really small so I am skeptical if it will flower properly - we will see.
Holcoglossum wangii budding
Phalaenopsis lowii spike
The Dendrochilum that Bradley gave me is flowering now too. The flowers are very delicate and look like they have been made out of ice. I am still unsure of whether I like or dislike the powerful fragrance that the flowers give off during the day. It is a mix of sickly-sweet and spices, an odd mix and a bit overpowering if you get too close. I am struggling to identify the species. I initially thought that it could be Dendrochilum magnum but after reading some facts about their taxonomy it appears as though this is not as easy as it seems. I will wait until more flowers open and I may then send some photos around to get a consensus. Other flowers that are just beginning to open now are Polystachya titan and Prosthechea cochleata (Anacheilium cochleatum).

Dendrochilum sp.
Prostechea cochleata
Polystachya titan


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Ascofinetia, Epidendrums and a frog!

I got an Ascofinetia hybrid four yeasrs ago while I was living in J bay. It has been a healthy strong plant since I have had it and seems to adapt to various climate  situations very well. I got this plant labelled as Ascofinetia Peaches which is all good as it had light orange flowers when it first flowered in my care and another spike of orange flowers the second time. Last year it did not flower as we moved from J Bay to Cape Town and then to Worcester where it is now happy in its little corner of the shade house and has rewarded me with some flowers. This time around though they are more on the purple side and not the light orange they normally are. I am not complaining as I like the variation.

Ascofinetia Peaches( Neofinetia falcata x Ascocentrum curvifolium )










Ascofinetia Peaches
Also a plant I have been excited about has finally flowered for me recently. I am still not 100% sure which species it is but it definitely belongs to the genus  Epidendrum. It is a good size specimen plant with canes about 60- 70cm long. Flowers are produced from terminal spikes that re flower from bract's the following season making an impressive display on the long canes.
Epidendrum sp.
Epidendrum sp.
The well known poor mans orchids are very common in gardens in South Africa and are a bit overlooked in the orchid community. I grow them in pots outside the shade house in the garden. They are almost always in flower and make great specimen plants if grown in hanging baskets or in the garden near a tree.



This tall grass like African species Neobenthamia has flowered recently.
Neobenthamia gracilis
Last but not least two long flower spikes. Waiting in anticipation :)
Laelia anceps 600mm spike
Angraecum eburneum 1100mm spike 12 flowers



I also found this little frog Hyperolius horstocki in a wild garden in Bettys Bay this last weekend. This pic just does not do it justice as it is a brightly colored light brown and orange guy with black stripes down the sides of the body, one from the tip of the nose and the other from the eye. A dark brown coloring in between the two stripes fades midway to the back of the frog.

Hyperolius horstocki (Arum lily frog)
For side view click below: