Orchid-lovers pursue perfect bloom: Oliver Gillie discovers biggest is best among the exotic exhibits in Glasgow at the World Orchid Show in Glasgow
Wednesday 28 April 1993
Orchid growers from all over the world have brought their best plants to Glasgow where they will be judged for their colour, elegance, fragrance and size - biggest is best. Large commercial growers from the Netherlands, Malaysia, California and Japan will be competing with amateurs like Mr O'Connell and Mr Gay for some of the top prizes.
Mr O'Connell, who works as a charge nurse in Lancaster, spends two or three hours a day in his greenhouse tending his plants. He began 15 years ago with a starter collection, built his own greenhouse and now spends about pounds 2,000 a year on his hobby.
'This is a chance in a lifetime for us,' Mr O'Connell said. 'The next world orchid show is in Brazil and we could never afford to go there.'
Mr O'Connell and Mr Gay, director of a photocopier company in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, have spent a year or more planning for the show at the Scottish Exhibition Centre.
They have set up a jungle fantasy with two explorers beside a camp fire, surrounded by more than 300 of their exotic blooms. Next to the explorers they have placed a large tree with some 50 orchids planted in it. The most fragrant of them, Vanda suavis and Dendrobium parishii, are attached strategically to the trunk where passing visitors will catch their perfume.
'Our theme is orchid collecting 150 years ago,' Mr O'Connell said. 'You can't collect them easily in the wild any more. It is all very carefully controlled now.'
Between them the two men have won dozens of awards for excellence. Orchid growing used to be a rich man's hobby, dependent on a team of gardeners. Now most orchid growers do it all themselves.
Seventeen local orchid societies from all over Britain are exhibiting in the show, which has attracted entries from 22 countries. A white Cattleya, brought from Bristol, is among the unusual specimens. It is 5ft across and bears 250 large white and purple blooms. The amateur who grew it, Martin Rendall, bought it in 1976 for pounds 6. Many orchids can now be bought for similar sums but rare or unusual specimens are worth thousands of pounds. One Paphiopedilum rothschild ianum, grown by the Eric Young Foundation of Jersey, is worth around pounds 10,000. It is descended directly from a specimen found more than 100 years ago, and may no longer be collected in the wild.
However, most orchids grown by enthusiasts are hybrids. After generations of careful breeding and selection, growers are able to increase the size of blooms several fold and concentrate the colours.
Mary Phillips, of Ratcliffe Orchids, who are growers in Winchester, Hampshire, has developed a perfect white orchid called Miller's Daughter.
A single shoot of the hybrid may be sold at the end of the show for pounds 3,000. Perfect specimens command large prices because breeding from seed is a difficult hit or miss business.
Joyce Stewart, a scientist from Kew Gardens, who is chairman of the show, said: 'New orchid hybrids are being produced, which are bigger, more colourful and easier to grow. Orchids are now a mass crop in Japan and south-east Asia and with cheaper air freight they are available all round the world.'
Newcastle manager taunted again as his side loses to Stoke
- 1 Five-year-old Iris Grace is raising awareness of autism through her extraordinary paintings
- 3 The Simpsons death: Creator Al Jean would 'kill himself' before a character like Homer or Lisa
- 4 British man raped while urinating in bushes at Oktoberfest beer festival in Germany
- 5 Pope Francis assures atheists: You don’t have to believe in God to go to heaven
Five-year-old Iris Grace is raising awareness of autism through her extraordinary paintings
Isis an hour away from Baghdad - with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Car tax disc changes: Two days to go - and they affect you much more than just not displaying a piece of paper
British man raped while urinating in bushes at Oktoberfest beer festival in Germany
George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin wedding: The famous congratulate actor and human rights lawyer after Venice nuptials
Isis, we are told, is a 'clear and dangerous threat to our way of life'. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
'Women, walk wherever you want' posters taken down in Stamford Hill following 'unacceptable' signs separating men and women
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
- < Previous
- Next >
NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...
£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: randstad education are curre...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: You must:- Speak English as a first lang...
£17000 - £18000 per annum: Randstad Education Group: If you are a committed Te...