Orchid daze

From my Chinese brush-painting classes I learned that “orchid” – which is one of the first four plants we were taught to paint – signifies spring among the “four gentlemen”.

Artwork: Sandra Simpson

The popular Cymbidiums (I assume we were taught to paint a species type) start coming into bloom here in late winter and, thanks to the variety of plants and hybrid breeding, can produce an ongoing display into summer. We have such a fortunate climate here that we can grow our Cymbidiums outside, in pots or in the ground as they are one of the few terrestrial orchids. A tip I heard from a good grower the other day was to fill the planting hole with bark so good drainage is guaranteed.

The orchid family is the largest plant family in the world – and more are being discovered in the wild all the time. If you so wish you could have some type of orchid in flower for each season – I’ve had Laelia gouldiana (native to the highlands of Mexico), for example, out this winter – while some of them, like my two little Restrepias, flower on and off all year.

The effect of seeing an orchid in flower can be tremendous.

Laelia gouldiana. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Haiyan debris –
a search team spots
an orchid

– Alegria Imperial, A Hundred Gourds 3.2 (2014)

Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines in 2013, one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded.

rain chill
the orchids’ uplifted
mouths

– Nathalie Buckland, paper wasp 18.1 (2012)

A Cymbidium blooming among the rocks at Te Puna Quarry Park. Photo: Sandra Simpson

morning prayer …
an orchid absorbs
the sound of bees

– Hansha Teki, Multiverses 1.1

transit of venus –
looking straight
into the orchid’s eye

– Sandra Simpson, A Hundred Gourds, 1.4 (2012)

A Phalaenopsis, or moth, orchid. Photo: Sandra Simpson

earthquake season –
the moth orchid
begins to flutter

– Sandra Simpson, The Heron’s Nest VI: 9

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