Hoya names in a tangle

Nick Lloyd from Auckland Domain’s Winter Gardens gave a talk to the Tauranga Orchid Society in March and at the end of the evening had a quiet word asking if I could please change the name of a photo I’d published on this blog.

NOT Hoya fusca, more likely Hoya pubicalyx ‘Red Button’. Whatever it’s name, the flower colour is dramatic! Photo: Sandra Simpson

My image of what I’d labelled Hoya fusca was, he said, not that plant and a grower was using my photo as evidence that they too had H. fusca when, like me, they’ve got something else. Problem is, that grower is supplying plants to a garden centre and so the error is being perpetuated. I’d got my plant from a knowledgeable enthusiast so trusted the label – the problem was most likely, as Nick said, where she’d got it from …

“I’m actually wondering if at some stage someone has had a seed pod and grown them from seed, resulting in a mish-mash of different clones, none of which should ever be labelled with a variety,” Nick emailed me later.

He sent me to the internet to try and find an image that’s close to the colour of my plant’s flowers, suggesting I start with a look at Hoya pubicalyx ‘Pink Silver’.

Nope, definitely not that. But going by the growing and flower description of H. pubicalyx ‘Red Button‘ that sounds far more likely.

Hoya pubicalyx ‘Jungle Garden’ is a more recent addition to my small collection (but the more I have, the more I like them). Photo: Sandra Simpson

Hoyas appear to be having something of a moment – I’ve had a few inquiries lately about where people might find some particular types, and I’m seeing them more often for sale in garden centres.

Here’s a link to the International Hoya Society, and there are some great photos at Vermont Hoyas, an American site.

Hoya serpens is a miniature type. Photo: Sandra Simpson

BOP Orchid Show 2019

The Bay of Plenty Orchid Society’s annual show was held on Friday and Saturday. Champion plant (and an Orchid Council of NZ Award of Merit) went to Brascidostele Gilded Treasure ‘Mystic Maze’ grown by Jeanette Hewer of the Waikato Orchid Society.

Reserve champion was Miltonopsis Linda Lingle ‘Pink Cadillac’, grown by Leroy Orchids of Auckland (sadly, I don’t appear to have a photo of that plant, my error). Leroy Orchids’ display is, however, always eye-catching with its bursts of colour.

Brascidostele Gilded Tower 'Mystic Maze-hewer - Copy
Champion: Brascidostele Gilded Treasure ‘Mystic Maze’, grown by Jeanette Hewer. Photo: Sandra Simpson
Miltonopsis Linda Lingle 'Pink Cadillac'-leroy2 - Copy
Cattleya Lucy Chua, grown by Leroy Orchids of Auckland. Photo: Sandra Simpson
C Itsa Blue 'Moonwalker'-leroy - Copy
Cattleya Itsa Blue ‘Moonwalker’, displayed by Leroy Orchids. Photo: Sandra Simpson
C Mahuea 'Lee's Baby'-leroy - Copy
Cattleya Mahuea ‘Lee’s Baby’, displayed by Leroy Orchids. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Something unusual from the show was an OCNZ Award of Distinction (AD) made to an orchid without a flower! Judges say this colour combination on the foliage is rarely seen and were impressed enough to make the award to grower Carl Christensen of Napier.

macodes petola-christensen - Copy
Macodes petola is one of the ‘jewel’ orchids grown primarily for their foliage. Photo: Sandra Simpson
doritis pulcherrima-christensen - Copy
Carl also showed this Doritis pulcherrima with its delicate flowers. Photo: Sandra Simpson
aliceara sweetheart jewel 'everglades'-curtis - Copy
Barry Curtis of the Tauranga Orchid Society brought along his Aliceara Sweetheart Jewel ‘Everglades’ that had long, swooping spikes of flowers. Photo: Sandra Simpson
Oncda Volcano Hula Halau 'Volcano Queen'-McDonald - Copy
The eye-catching colour combination of Oncda. Volcano Hula Halau ‘Volcano Queen’, grown by Helen McDonald. Photo: Sandra Simpson
Miltonia Mayflower Maymour x Goodvale Moir 'Golden Wonder' - Copy
Miltonia Mayflower Maymour x Goodvale Moir ‘Golden Wonder, grown by Elizabeth Bailey’. Photo: Sandra Simpson
Paph Wossner Rothperle - Copy
Paphiopedilum Wossner Rothperle, shown by Diane Hintz on the BOP display. Photo: Sandra Simpson
Onc Irish Mist 'Greenish'-ninox - Copy
Oncidium Irish Mist ‘Greenish’, shown by Ninox Orchids of Whangarei. Photo: Sandra Simpson

One man went to mow …

Got a bit of lawn that’s hard to mow? You might like to have some fun with the grass, perhaps inspired by these photos taken at last year’s BOP Garden and Artfest.

Peter Blair has some fun with visitors to his urban Tauranga garden. Photo: Sandra Simpson
A beautifully mown edge draws the eye to this ‘patch of weeds’ … which every spring is a riot of bulb flowers. Photo: Sandra Simpson
Putting aside an area for beneficial insects? The McGarva garden in central Tauranga includes a small orchard where the grass is allowed to grow – and two Buxus ‘sheep’. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Going nuts for gingko

The former Tauranga city arborist once let me into a secret – the tree his staff received the most complaints about was the elegant Gingko biloba or maidenhair fern tree, the leaves of which turn golden yellow in autumn.

The complaints didn’t stem from the tree’s leaves or its growing habit but about the female trees during nut-bearing. Apparently the nuts stink! Badly. So the council now plants only cloned male gingkos to avoid the problem. These trees, by the way, have been around on the planet so long, they’re often referred to as living fossils.

Gingko nuts ripening on the tree. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The nuts are considered a seasonal delicacy in Asia – despite the smell of the outer skin, despite the sometimes allergy-inducing chemicals in the outer skin, and despite the fact the nuts are toxic until cooked and that eating too many of them can make you ill!

Omanawa kiwifruit orchardist (and before that dairy farmer) and kauri collector Graham Dyer, after observing Chinese migrants foraging for gingko nuts in 1990, decided to plant a gingko orchard on his property near Tauranga.

In 2005 he sourced graftwood from Japan and was able to import it, grafted his 2000 gingko trees which produced their first nuts in 2015. As far as Graham knows, he has the largest gingko nut orchard in the southern hemisphere.

Gingko nuts on a Manawatu tree. Photo: Sandra Simpson

As described in his 2017 privately published memoir, the nuts have to be left to ferment for a couple of weeks, then the pungent outer flesh is washed off. The blonde hard-shell nut that emerges can be stored in a fridge. Graham’s had the help of his sons, one of whom has designed and built a grader, and his wife Mavis.

They’re competing against an imported, inferior product locally and batting to export to Asia. Graham reckons the project has a 50% chance of success!