As long as I can remember,my Dad raised orchids.Cattleya’s mostly.The corsage orchid.Remember those?
Growing up,in Western New York,I remember hanging out with him,in the greenhouse,that he built himself.While he tended his orchids.That greenhouse had all the bells and whistles.An automatic timer that would open the windows when the temperature got too hot.Automatic misters that he created himself.He was an engineer,but I think he was a frustrated architect.
In the winter,if you wanted to find him,you just went to his greenhouse.There he’d be.I’d be messing around.Getting in his way,but he’d tell me all about his orchids.
In the summer,he moved the orchids out to the screened patio(that he also built himself-the man never sat still!).They would be covered in blooms.He had 2 secretaries,so they were always getting orchid corsages.My mother would make these beautiful bows for them.I don’t think that gene was passed on to me me.I’m not that crafty.
When my parents moved to St.Petersburg,in 1973,the orchids made the trip.In the Plymouth station wagon.
Along with my mother’s Hummel figurine collection,but that’s a whole other story.Everything else went in the moving van,except for a few clothes and the orchids and the Hummels.
In Florida,his orchids flourished.He left them outside all year long.Underneath pine trees.The only time he would bring them up to the house was if a freeze was in the forecast.He never fertilized them.They were totally on their own.
After my mother passed away,and we moved Dad to an ALF,I got the orchids.The Hummels went to my sister-in-law.He told me to just put them under the large oak,and just leave them alone.Which I did.And they flourished.
Too well.The largest one had so out grown it’s pot,it was falling over.I asked him if it was time to do something with it.
He adamantly told me,”No! Leave it alone.”
” But Dad,it’s falling over.”
”Leave it alone!It will be fine.”
But then TheTree went down,taking the pool with it.When the new pool went in,he suggested putting them in a shady spot in the new lanai.But with orders to leave them alone.Which I did(I’m really great at leaving plants alone….),and they flourished.
After he passed away,I finally took it upon my self to divide the largest one.I kept 3 plants and gave one to Erich,the Younger,who now has own garden.
But they didn’t flourish……
They looked like they were dying.
All I could think was that I had killed them.What had I done?
They grew,but they didn’t bloom.
Until this year,and I saw this….
And another cutting is doing this…..
And Erich,the Younger,has a scape on his,too.
So,maybe I did a good thing.I hope he’s proud…..
After all,he’s the man who taught me that gardening is one big experiment.