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Plants

Orchid fever

Ros Andrews

Ros Andrews

August 10, 2013

As a first time visitor to the Chelsea Flower Show in late May, I felt like a kid in a candy shop. So much to see in such a short time. The standard of horticulture, the level of presentation of plants and the sheer variety was even better than I had expected. With so much to marvel at, one thing stood out in my memory of that day and it was the exhibition and display of the Phalaenopsis, or moth orchids, set up as an overhanging ‘tree’.

Orchid tree at the Chelsea Flower Show 2013

Orchid tree at the Chelsea Flower Show 2013

Maybe after the total assault on my horticultural senses that would have been the end of it as I did not even remember who the exhibitor was. Even though they had won one of the coveted Chelsea gold medals!

However a week later as part of an English garden tour with the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens we were on the island of Jersey. One of the points of interest was the Eric Young Foundation Orchid House and I discovered just who the Chelsea exhibitor had been.

There in permanently planted landscapes using raised beds, traditional Jersey granite, logs and branches and running water, were all the exotic orchid flowers clustered together to create one unique and dramatic display.

Multiple orchid species display set amongst Jersey rocks and branches - excellent use of vertical landscaping

Multiple orchid species display set amongst Jersey rocks and branches – excellent use of vertical landscaping

The blooms were in the peak of condition in the main exhibition glasshouse, grouped together so that the walk was not only a visual sensation but a feast for all the senses. With so many different species to see, I really appreciated the subtle labelling. For the orchid aficionado who wanted to increase their collection or their knowledge, this would have been a real bonus.

Cattleyas hanging from above released a subtle fragrance

Cattleyas hanging from above released a subtle fragrance

Did you know some orchids are perfumed? I was not ever aware that many have a fragrance until I tracked down an elusive scent to some cattleyas hanging high above my head.

Also in the background was the constant and gentle sound of running water.

Intermixing of bromeliads, ferns and orchids to create a lush colourful tropical landscape

Intermixing of bromeliads, ferns and orchids to create a lush colourful tropical landscape

The orchids were grouped together with other exotic plants and foliage, but were not overshadowed by them.

Finally I went along to the propagation nurseries, which are viewed from above and to the side, to gain the best perspective of all that colour and form. Thousands of each species were there en masse.

The touches of red underpinned with the lush green background provided subtle colour contrasts

The touches of red underpinned with the lush green background provided subtle colour contrasts

Now I know why the Eric Young Orchid Foundation glasshouses boast of more than 20,000 species of orchids. And it is easy to see why their unique collection has won many prestigious International awards and has gained a world wide reputation for breeding first class flowers.

A wonderful experience and something I was not expecting to find on the island of Jersery.

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Jennifer Stackhouse
Jennifer Stackhouse
7 years ago

Lovely blog Ros and so nice to be able to put at least one of these magnificent displays in context.

Ros Andrews
7 years ago

Their orchid display did put so much in context as you could see clearly those orchids that need humidity (placed above water), those orchids that are pendulous (hung from branches) and those that complement other plants such as the bromeliads and ferns. The colour and variety of the flowers made a fantastic display.