A flower grown by Erica Cowdell has been chosen by the New Zealand Orchid Council as its 2013 Orchid of the Year (the website is still showing the 2012 winners).
The honour, announced last month, also included the Species of the Year title, while the same plant – Paphiopedilum hirsutissimum var esquirolei ‘Skye’ – was a section champion at last year’s national Orchid Expo in New Plymouth (see our local results here).
Erica, who received her first orchid as a gift in 1959, grows thousands of Paphiopedilum, or slipper, orchids as a commercial cut-flower crop at her property on the Omokoroa peninsula, near Tauranga, and has been exporting blooms to the United States for three seasons.
“I’d had some Paphs since 1970 but in 2007 I got more focused and swapped my crop from Cymbidiums. The one that has been honoured is a flower I sell locally as it doesn’t quite have the lasting qualities for export.”
At the time of the national expo Erica had few orchids in flower as it was late in the season for Paphiopedilums.
“I put in virtually everything I had that was freshly in flower and this plant happened to peak at the right time.
“You can have the perfect flower but no show for it and some people spend their entire lives hoping to get a winner.”
This article first appeared in the Bay of Plenty Times and appears here with permission.