Orchid Show Champions

Tauranga Orchid Society is thrilled to have four trophies to award this year – two more than in 2017 and three more than in 2016! A new Reserve Champion trophy has been added by the society and Lynley and John Roy have donated the Alec Roy Cup for Best Cymbidium.

And the winners are …

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A basket of an unnamed Dendrobium nobile has won the Grand Champion title for Hubert Musiers and Tania  Langen (Ninox Orchids) of Whangarei. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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John Edwards from Tauranga proved that size doesn’t matter, winning both Reserve Champion and the Natalie Simmonds Trophy for Best Specimen plant with his Restrepia guttulata. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Diane Hintz, a member of both the BOP and Tauranga orchid societies, won the Alec Roy Cup for Best Cymbidium with a basket of Cymbidium Hungarian Doll ‘NH’ x devonianum ‘Tuakau’. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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A better look at the flowers of Best Cymbidium. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The show has its last day tomorrow (Sunday), open from 10am-4pm at Tauranga Racecourse, $3 entry (under 12 free).

Tauranga Orchid Show

Great buzz on the show’s first day – don’t forget to come and see it ‘live’ tomorrow and Sunday, 10am-4pm. Here are a few photos to whet your appetite …

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The Asia stand. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Lots of koalas on the Australia stand. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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The Latin America stand is full of colour. The Asia stand. Photo: Sandra Simpson

It’s a good time of year to see beautiful Cymbidiums.

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Cymbidium devonianum x Night Jasmine ‘Kannika’, bred and grown by Andy Price of Hinemoa Orchids. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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This unnamed beauty was on the Asia stand of the Tauranga Orchid Society. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Cymbidium Mont Niron ‘Trinity’, grown by Kevin Davey of the BOP Orchid Society. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Tauranga Clivia Show

Always a good afternoon at the Clivia Show and 2018 was no exception. Ian Duncalf (Plant Struck) and Jude Coenen (Pixie Clivias) are producing some brilliant plants here in the Western Bay of Plenty and had a selection on display.

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Clivia Dainty Dancer, bred by Jude Coenen, sports an eye-catching flower. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Ian Duncalf has named this plant Clivia Lydia, in honour of champion Kiwi golfer Lydia Ko. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Clivia Jen. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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This unnamed seedling bred by Ian Duncalf has a green throat. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Clivia Toon’s Green is one of Jude Coenen’s green-flowered plants that uses seed imported from Japan. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Ian Duncalf has done me the great honour of naming this plant Clivia Sandra! As they age, the yellow flowers develop a blush on the petals. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Frederick the Spud

One of the stops on my recent trip to Europe was Sanssouci Palace, near Potsdam in Germany, home to Frederick the Great who in 1744 had a terraced garden built to grow plums, figs and grapes – and, once he saw the view, adding a large summer residence.

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Glass ‘doors’ help heat up the fig trees planted against a south-facing terrace wall. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The name Sanssouci means ‘without a care’ and the yellow-walled palace, one attraction within a large park that includes several other gardens and historic buildings, is only one room wide and fully intended as a retreat from the pomp and circumstance of court.

Frederick the Great (1712-86) ruled Prussia for 46 years, the longest of any Hohenzollern king, and was an accomplished musician/composer (his flute is on display at Sanssouci), philosopher and soldier – and was the first world ruler to recognise the United States as a nation.

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The frontage of Sanssouci facing the terrace gardens. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Frederick was the third son of 14 children, the older male infants dying at their baptisms when the heavy crown was put on their tiny heads (fortunately, they figured it out, but still, two!) Frederick hated his father with a passion, and for good reason – after being hauled back from England with his best friend (they’d run off), dear old Dad sentenced Frederick to death, commuting it at the last moment in favour of his friend. And, of course, Frederick was made to watch the beheading!

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The view from the top terrace towards the city of Potsdam. A grape vine runs along the length of the terrace fence but our guide said the wine made here was never good. Photo: Sandra Simpson

In among all his other interests, Frederick was something of a horticulturalist – as well as the plums, figs and grapes, he also had greenhouses at Sanssouci for melons and pineapples. But his biggest contribution to the lives of Germans was encouraging the cultivation of potatoes (kartoffel) to try and halt the famines caused by bad cereal harvests – between 1708 and 1711, more than 40% of the population in East Prussia starved to death.

However, farmers were initially less than enthusiastic – after all, potatoes were animal fodder. It didn’t help that they tried to eat the leaves or eat the potatoes raw! Frederick persevered, describing them as “royal vegetables”, ordering them cooked for state banquets and making a great production of enjoying them, and planting large fields round Sanssouci. Legend has it he put an armed guard on the fields, deliberately relaxed at night to allow locals to steal the “treasure”. Finally, on March 24, 1756 Frederick ordered that everybody had to plant potatoes wherever there was room.


Frederick the Great at the age of 68, painted by Anton Graff. Image: Wikipedia

Why this interest in the humble spud? Frederick was a military strategy genius and understood that a well-nourished army would be superior to any other, while a well-fed population would be less prone to revolt. And so it proved.

Favourite German potato dishes today include potato pancakes, potato salads and potato dumplings – and of course the tuber also comes chipped, baked, roasted, boiled, mashed ….

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The grave of Fredrich der Grosse (Frederick the Great) at Sanssouci. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Frederick’s nephew, who succeeded him, decided the late king should be buried next to his father in Potsdam Church, despite Frederick’s express wish to be buried at Sanssouci. In his last will in 1752, the king who gave refuge to French philosopher Voltaire said: “I have lived as a philosopher and I wish to be buried as such, without pomp and circumstance or the slightest ceremony. Let me be taken by the light of a lantern with no cortege to Sanssouci and buried simply on the righthand side of the high terrace.” He died at Sanssouci in his armchair, aged 74.

Finally, in 1991 – 205 years after his death – that wish was carried out. Frederick the Great now lies alongside his beloved 11 whippets (who all have name stones too) and in a touching tribute Germans come and lay potatoes on the grave of der Kartoffelkönig (Potato King).

Plant stories: Japanese pagoda tree

Despite the sometimes heavy rain we enjoyed our recent visit to Royal Botanic Gardens Kew in London very much – the Temperate House has been re-opened; our friends took us to the remarkable paintings of Marianne North (1830-90; no photos allowed so click on the link to see the amazing interior of the gallery); the Princess of Wales Conservatory … and right beside The Hive art installation was a tree covered in a mass of fine white blossoms.

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Japanese pagoda tree at Kew. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Turns out this Japanese pagoda tree is one of the few remaining trees that was planted in the original 9-acre botanic gardens in about 1760! This tree is one of five imported for Kew by James Gordon (1708-80), a famous nurseryman of the time, and who introduced the tree to the UK in 1753, bringing it from Japan. He was also the first person to successfully germinate the seeds of the maidenhair tree or Ginkgo biloba from China and the specimen he gave Kew is another heritage tree still growing there.

Actually native to China and Korea, the Japanese pagoda tree was often seen planted in the grounds of Buddhist temples in Japan and collected by English botanists there which is how it got its common name. The Kew signboard says it’s often grown as ornamental, thanks to those masses of delicate flowers, but it is also used for timber, furniture, medicine and food. A yellow dye can be extracted from the seedpods and is commonly used for silks and batik.

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Daresay I’ll need some support when I’m 258 years old! Photo: Sandra Simpson

The Latin name of the tree – originally Sophora japonica – changed in 2006 to Styphnolobium japonicum based on information collected from DNA sequences by Kew scientists.

I’m not sure if The Hive was placed near this tree deliberately, but the flowers are certainly a magnet for bees. We could hear the buzz, even on a wet day.

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The tree flowers in late summer making it valuable to bees. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The Hive is a fascinating place, an artwork hooked up to a real beehive in the grounds to create an immersive experience for visitors.

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Wolfgang Buttress originally created The Hive for the UK Pavilion at the 2015 Milan Expo.
It’s 17m tall and constructed from 170,000 aluminium parts and 1,000 LED lights, and can be entered on two levels. Photo: Sandra Simpson