Orchids remind me of my grandmother because she used to breed them when she was alive. When I was young I would stand in her garden and contemplate their ugly beauty. She grew ones that were trained up a supporting stick and had skinny yellow petals with deep red markings. I wondered why she didn’t choose the bigger, prettier ones with lush vivid petals, like these orchids at the Akatsuka Orchid Gardens in Big Island, Hawaii.
Years later, I read a book called The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean, which is about a horticulturalist named John Laroche and his quest for the rare ghost orchid. It is a broad tale about orchid obsession and the lengths to which plant collectors will trek into dark swamps and headhunter-inhabited rainforests to find rare orchids. Orchids like humidity and the shyest ones live in the humid low-light density of forests. It’s a wonder that we think we can buy them from the supermarket and grow them in our houses. I’m minded to read the book again.
~ Spotted Cow
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