Here’s a garden club that provides over 4000 hours a year of unpaid help to a local botanical gardens, organizes a popular show once a year, and is a rich source of information and advice for anyone in Western New York who wants to grow orchids. And they don’t exactly fit any of the unfortunate stereotypes that came up the last time we discussed clubs.
I have to confess that while I admire orchids, especially the fragrant ones, I’ve never been tempted to grow any myself, and I just can’t seem to get too excited about them. The orchid displays at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens didn’t convince me either; they often seemed cramped and minimal. Up until now. With the help of the all-volunteer Niagara Frontier Orchid Society, orchids at the Gardens are now part of a tropical habitat display; they appear growing out of rocks, hanging from trees (as this stanhopea, above), and potted (but discreetly cited in a natural setting, not in tiers and rows, as they were before).
After talking to a couple of the Society members, including president Joe DiDomenico, above, I couldn’t help but be impressed by their enthusiasm and knowledge. They’ve been working with the Gardens for ten years, and during the last year they’ve finally created a setting that gives a better sense of how these plants actually work in the wild.
The tree limbs are from locusts downed during last year’s storm; locust is rot-resistent and won’t need to be replaced as often. The Society has also donated many of the plants as well as paid for some of the misting system. This is going to be a glorious room to visit in February.
A core group of ten club members spends every Wednesday morning at the Gardens, caring for plants in the two behind-the-scenes glasshouses as well as the plants on display. They also organize an annual competitive show, which is judged by reps from the American Orchid Society. This year’s winner, a Beallara, grown by a Rochester enthusiast, is shown above. I asked Sue Charles of the club what the three biggest mistakes you can make with orchids are; she immediately supplied the following:
2. Not enough light
3. Overpotting (too large a pot and too much potting mixture)
I’ll keep those in mind. Maybe I’ll start one or two myself this winter.