Orchid of the Month
My name is Kevin Wigley and, as I have been invited to write a monthly article for the Orchid Study Group, I thought it might be good to introduce myself and give you all an idea of who I am and what I’m all about.
I suppose I must have been growing orchids for somewhere between twenty and twenty-five years now, so I guess that makes orchids pretty much a lifelong passion of mine. I won’t divulge my exact age, so let’s say I tick the 35-40 box when form-filling. I live in the Midlands, not far from, but not in Birmingham. During office hours, I work for a small family- run plastic moulding business, specializing in low volume parts for various other industries, ranging from aerospace to construction. I would love to be able to make a living out of my hobby, but in this modern age of cheap, imported plants and throwaway culture, I haven’t found a way of realizing this dream in a way that doesn’t seem to me a sell-out.
I don’t have a greenhouse (at least, not that I use for growing anything other than tomatoes). I grow my orchids in an adapted room in my house, under lights. This generally seems very agreeable to the orchids, and I think that my results are improving year on year. I rather fancy that were I to build a greenhouse in the future (which isn’t impossible), I would discover that it comes with a wealth of problems of its own, much the same as growing under lights does.
I am, by my own admission, very much an amateur orchid grower, and I don’t get involved with growing from seed and that side of things, as I’m far too impatient to wait for babies to grow to flowering size. Far better to leave that to people who know what they’re doing. I guess I must own probably three or four hundred orchids, mostly in the intermediate to warm-growing category, since there’s no point growing orchids that aren’t going to thrive for me, just because I think they’re pretty. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t killed my fair share of orchids through choosing plants inappropriate to my growing conditions. These days, I try (not always successfully) to exercise a little more restraint. I have a particular penchant for Coelogyne, and Dendrochilum, though my favourite tends to be whatever happens to be in bloom when I’m asked.
Hopefully, as we get to know each other a little better over the coming months, I’ll give more information on how I grow specific plants and on the growing conditions in my grow-room. It would also be nice to show that anyone of any age and ability can successfully grow orchids, and that there really is no secret mystique to this hobby at all
Click link to view previous Orchid of the Month articles.
Orchid of the Month – February 2016 – Paphiopedilum x leeanum.
Orchid of the Month – March 2016 – Brassolaeliocattleya Young min Orange
Orchid of the Month – April 2016 – The Epidendrum floribundum conundrum.
Orchid of the Month – May 2016 – Eulophia guineensis.
Orchid of the Month – June 2016 – Phalaenopsis mannii
Orchid of the Month – July 2016 – Phalaenopsis tetraspis
Orchid of the Month – August 2016 – Miltonia spectabilis
Orchid of the Month – September 2016 – Prosthechea cochleata hybrid
Orchid of the Month – October 2016 – Coelogyne Rebecca Howe
Orchid of the Month – November 2016 – Cymbidium ensifolium cultivars.
Orchid of the Month – December 2016 – Coelia bella
Orchid of the Month – January 2017- Encyclia cordigera
Orchid of the Month – February 2017 – Coelogyne usitana
Orchid of the Month – March 2017 – Phalaenopsis Sweet Memory ‘Liodoro’
Orchid of the Month- April 2017 – Coelogyne X Neroli Cannon
Orchid of the Month – May 2017 – Asconopsis Irene Dobkin ‘Elmhurst’
Orchid of the Month – June 2017 -Warczewiczella discolor (formerly Cochleanthes discolor)
Orchid of the Month – July 2017- Coelogyne Bird In Flight
Orchid of the Month – August 2017 – Coelogyne speciosa
Orchid of the Month -September 2017 – Encyclia tampensis var. alba
Orchid of the Month – October 2017 – Bulbophyllum Valley Isle Queen
Orchid of the Month – November 2017 – Coelogyne pandurata
Orchid of the Month – December 2017 – Galeandra baueri
Orchid of the Month – January 2018 – Miltonia Queen Ann
Orchid of the Month – February 2018 -Coelogyne lawrenceana
Orchid of the Month – March 2018 – Pabanisia Eva’s Blue Amazon
Orchid of the Month – April 2018 – Brassavola nodosa
Orchid of the Month – May 2018 – Dendrobium Golden Aya
Orchid of the Month – June 2018 – Promenzella ‘Sunlight’
Orchid of the Month – July 2018- Epidendrum Plastic Doll
Orchid of the Month – August 2018 – Prosthechea prismatocarpa
Orchid of the Month – September 2018 – Coelogyne chloroptera
Orchid of the Month – October 2018 – Coelogyne Lyme Bay
Coelogyne Lyme Bay is one of those hybrids that everyone seems to have heard of, but few seem to grow. This is a great shame, as it is easy to grow and flower, and appears not to grow too big. I have two plants carrying this name. One of these is a division of a mother plant from Burnham Nurseries (who first made the cross from selected forms of C. speciosa and C. usitana in 1996), and should probably carry the clonal name ‘Burnham’, although this doesn’t appear on the tag. The second is a plant that I purchased from a German nursery, which is almost certainly a seedling from a batch that they made and does not carry a clonal name. It is this second German plant that I shall discuss here, as I have managed to get it to bloom. It was quite a large plant when it arrived, and had clearly bloomed before. I generally prefer plants not to be in full bloom when they arrive, as the flowers will almost certainly not last once unpacked, and I am then faced with a long wait before I am presented with blooms again. After a few weeks of doing nothing, the plant produced several new shoots, the first of which has by now flowered. On a recent visit to Devon, I saw Coelogyne Lyme Bay in flower at Burnham Nurseries. The flowers were quite striking, with lime green petals and sepals and dark chocolate brown lip and column, especially on freshly opened blooms. I hope that my division from them will be similar, but at the time of writing, I have yet to flower it.
My plant from Germany is far more ‘clumpy’ in habit (perhaps this is a trait that they select for) than my plant from Burnham Nurseries, though it might be that it too will become more clumped as it gets older. It is also possible that there is more than one seedling in the pot. I shall find out as more flower spikes open toward the other side of the plant. More importantly, however, the flowers are quite different. You expect this from a batch of seedlings, and many slightly different crosses involving the Speciosae group of Coelogyne can tend to look rather similar to each other. Therefore, when a good plant turns up in any batch of seedlings, it is given a clonal name (like Burnham Nurseries’ ‘Burnham’ clone) to differentiate it from the rest. My plant from Germany has a much more brightly coloured lip, and the column is almost the same colour as the petals and sepals. This in itself isn’t a problem and the flowers are perfectly nice, though my plant has inherited the unfortunate habit from C. speciosa of flinging its petals right back until they almost cross at the back of the flower. While this is an endearing feature of the species, it is not as desirable in the hybrid, as the flower lacks the ‘fullness’ that the named clones possess. All in all, I am not convinced that the hybrid is any more desirable than its parents (although I see no reason to pass it on either, as it wasn’t expensive and besides, I think it is very informative to grow more than one clone of any given hybrid, especially if one of them has a clonal name and the other doesn’t). It is very clear why Burnham Nurseries have given their plant a clonal name and why it so often wins awards when displayed.