Monday, October 19, 2015

Still here...

It has been a while since my last update. I'm still alive, as are most of the plants. A move of house - which we now own rather than rent - moving the green house and a change of jobs has rather cut into my "free time"; my orchid exploits - and this blog in particular - have suffered as a result.

Speaking of moving, Senior Management and two of our friends nearly died moving the greenhouse in about 7 pieces back in February - the roof in one giant section was a particular challenge, as it had to be taken around the house on its side, making it rather unwieldy (no photographic evidence, as all hands were needed elsewhere!). Fortunately, we only had to walk it a grand total of a single property line over. A massive ivy "fence" was demolished between the properties, and a precast wall put in its place; we took advantage of that activity to move the greenhouse and plants without going "the long way around". I bought a modular greenhouse in part because of being a renter - I hadn't expected to move less than a year after putting up a greenhouse, but the rent became unreasonable and a good offer to buy came up... Still, moving a greenhouse is quite an operation!

The orchids spent several months under deep shade, being very infrequently watered whilst the greenhouse was moved, and the basic connections were hooked up (power, water), and the backlog of "most urgent" DIY for human habitation was completed. Once the greenhouse was more or less up, I neglected to erect adequate shading, and some of the plants have really taken some strain lately (particularly things like Phalaenopsis that do not enjoy full sun as we move towards spring/summer down here). I predict some casualties. Another more minor "catastrophe" was hooking up misting without fans in place; some plants rotted away seemingly overnight. It's surprising what just a few days of changed weather, neglect or poor cultural conditions can do to a plant. (On the other hand, it's impressive how tough some other plants are!). Usually, it's too much of something that seems to kill orchids; they're seemingly often naturally quite resilient to shortages.

I've also been encountering more pests. Things are wholesale eating my plants, or chunks of them; for example, my Onc. Sharry Baby has had its latest pseudobulb firmly chomped, but it's still soldiering on (it's just started to spike); the Laelia sincorana f. coerulea which I have waited for YEARS (since March 2011) to flower threw out a spike this month (clearly it enjoyed the massive increase in light and neglect). Something ATE IT. I strongly suspect molluscan activities (slugs and snails) and must deploy counter-measures!
Onc.Sharry Baby 'Sweet Fragrance' with slug/snail damage.
Laelia sincorana f. coerulea - first bloom - EATEN!
It's not all bad news of course; some things have quite enjoyed life; our Vanda flowered for only the second time, and some other light-loving plants have also put on quite a show.
Vanda Manuvadee "Blue" - second flowering; October 2015.
This won the first prize in the "Other" orchid category at the recent
Grahamstown Flower Festival Facebook (but not best orchid on show).
Having slowly learnt a little of what orchid judges look for,
I can see the "faults" (compare it to a really flat, round Vanda like one of the
"Roberts Delight" range). It's an old hybrid, so a lot has happened since. 
It's grown quite a lot since I first got it.
Compare the size when it was bought and when it last flowered
Going through my cellphone camera gallery, there are quite a lot of stories to come! Watch this space...

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