BOP Orchid Show 2018

Congratulations to Barry Curtis (Tauranga) and Bob Parsons (BOP) who respectively won the Grand Champion and Reserve Champion titles at the Bay of Plenty Orchid Society Show. Despite a somewhat difficult growing season – although not for everyone, clearly – there was a nice range of orchids to look at in the Te Puke War Memorial Hall last Friday and Saturday.

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Grand Champion plant: Bulbophyllum Elizabeth Ann ‘Buckleberry’ grown by Barry Curtis of the Tauranga Orchid Society. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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A closer look at one of the many dozens of flowers on the plant – and more buds were still forming! Photo: Sandra Simpson

Many people find Elizabeth Ann ‘Buckleberry’ easy to grow but difficult to flower. I didn’t run across Barry at the show to find out what his secret might be!

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Reserve Champion plant: Psychopsis papilio, grown by Bob Parsons of the Bay of Plenty Orchid Society. This plant, sometimes called the butterfly orchid, had about five blooms. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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A basket of Dendrobium cuthbertsonii was a winner for Pat Hutchins, owner of Sunvale Orchids in Gisborne and a member of the Tauranga society. These little orchids grow epiphytically at up to 3000m above sea level in New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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A delightful mini-Paphiopedilum displayed on the Bay of Plenty society’s stand. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Paph Ruby Leopard x Marie Joyes, grown by Selwyn Hatrick of Rotorua. The pouch appeared almost black, much darker than the camera recorded. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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The striking Cattleya Gila Wilderness ‘Nippon Treasure’ belongs to Bob Parsons. He was given the plant by Andy Easton as that orchid grower and breeder made the move from Rotorua to Colombia. The label may also have a bit more name on the end, but it’s become very hard to read. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Rhyncholaeliocattleya (Rlc)Village Chief North ‘Green Genius’ was shown by Leroy Orchids of Auckland. Do you like the green petals? Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Warczewiczella Amazon Beauty was shown on the Whangarei Orchid Society stand. As part of the name suggests, the plant is native to the Amazon basin. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Masdevallia herradurae, or the horse-shoe Masdevallia, was shown by Diane Hintz on the BOP stand. Found in Colombia and Ecuador, this orchid grows at elevations of 500 to 2100m on mossy trees. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Habenaria rhodocheila is a southeast Asian orchid that grows in deciduous forests. This plant with the striking orange flowers was shown on the Whangarei stand. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Read more about the care of Harbenaria orchids, which have tubers and so are terrestrial growing. The Pacific Bulb Society website includes a page on these orchids.

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The amazing flowers of Habenaria myriotricha, grown by Carl Christensen of Napier. (And thanks to the kind gent who held a black chair in the background while I took the photo.) Photo: Sandra Simpson

Tauranga Orchid Show 2016

The first problem that arises when showing orchids is, well, having any orchids to show. Your precious plant may have buds, but Murphy’s Law decrees those buds will open after the show or have already flowered and be past their best by the day of judgement.

A richly scented stem of Stanhopea oculata drew much attention at the April 2014 Bay of Plenty Orchid Show in Te Puke, with plant owner Conrad Coenen of Apata, near Tauranga, saying it was a rare sight.

“Not that I mean it’s a rare plant,” he hastened to add, “just that it’s rare to see it a show as the flowers last for only two or three days. The planets have to align to have it open on just the right day.” He joked that he’d been breathing on the buds to try and hasten their opening!

This month is an especially busy time in the orchid world – the Tauranga show this weekend (September 9-11) is followed by the national Orchid + Flower Show in Auckland (September 22-25). Both shows offer massed displays of flowering plants and the chance to buy plants not seen in garden centres, as well as getting practical advice from experienced growers.

Orchid societies are a wealth of accumulated knowledge and members are only too happy to share what they’ve learned as they have lavished care, attention and patience on their plants, sometimes for decades.

Last year a staff member in the refurbished Peter Black Conservatory in Palmerston North’s Victoria Esplanade casually pointed to a Vanda orchid in a hanging basket and told me it had recently flowered – for the first time in 28 years! He believes better heating, fewer draughts, and new glass in the structure finally provided the right conditions for the warm-growing beauty.

Fortunately, one of the largest families of flowering plants also has members that are decidedly unfussy, and some that are downright tough, including Bifrenaria harrisoniae and the Australian native Dendrobium speciosum (rock orchid).

There are also those that can flower at any time of the year and may flower more than once in a year, including the easy-care Restrepia orchids, Maxillaria variabilis, Coelogyne fimbriata and Cattleya Quinquecolor, while the blooms of the fashionable Phalaenopsis (moth orchid) last for months.

Te Puna Quarry Park near Tauranga has an outstanding display of Cymbidium orchids – on now – thought to the largest outdoor planting of Cymbidiums in the southern hemisphere. They thrive in next-to-no top soil and receive no extra fertiliser or irrigation, beyond guano and rainwater. Volunteers have just rolled them into place among the rocks and left them to get on with it.

Tauranga Orchid Society president Barry Curtis helps look after the orchids at the park and is a keen Cymbidium grower himself, winning the top award at the 2013 national Orchid Expo with the miniature Cymbidium Cricket. His secret to success? One of them is that when Barry puts a ‘Cymbid’ in a new pot, he half fills the pot with bark and adds a handful of crumbly-stage horse manure before topping off the bark. The plant’s roots are fed each time the pot is watered and Barry reckons they lap it up.

Other ‘cool-growing’ orchids (6 degrees C on the coldest night, although may take as low as 2; up to 30 on the hottest day) include Coelogyne, Dendrobium, Epidendrum, Laelia, Masdevallia, Ondontoglossum, Paphiopedilum (slipper orchids), Pleurothallis,  Sarchochilus and Zygopetalum, and within the hybrids of just these few types there are great varieties of flower shape and size, flower colour, and plant size.

There are some useful books by New Zealand authors, keep an eye out at book fairs and in second-hand shops for volumes by Ross Macdonald (including Cool Flowering Orchids Throughout the Year), and the late I D James (including The New Zealand Orchid Grower).

All orchids have the same basic requirements – good air movement, regular water and food, and the right amount of warmth and light. Joining an orchid society means ongoing, free advice as to how to interpret these requirements for your conditions, plus there’s practical help if problems arise, visits to members’ collections, access to a library, guest speakers and the camaraderie of others suffering from the same ‘disease’.

The Tauranga Orchid Show is at the Racecourse (Cameron Rd, Greerton), $3 entry for adults (under-12 free). You’ll see the display we’re entering into the national expo, a mass of flowering plants, there are plants for sale, repotting demonstrations, advice from expert growers and a café and raffles. See you there – do come and say hello!

  • Tauranga Orchid Society meets on the third Tuesday of the month, 7.30pm, Wesley Church Hall, 13th Ave, Tauranga. Visitors always welcome. Contact Sandra.
  • Bay of Plenty Orchid Society meets on the second Sunday of the month, 1.30pm, Masonic Hall, Oxford St, Te Puke. Visitors always welcome. Contact Faye.

Little jewels

“Orchids keep me sane,” says Wilma Fitzgibbons of her plant collection, “but I think they drive my husband insane.”

Wilma has had Parkinson’s disease since 2007, diagnosed when recovering from breast cancer, and enjoys retreating to the peace of her plants, although problems with a knee meant husband Tony had to take over watering for a long while, hence the “insane” comment.


Wilma Fitzgibbons in her orchid house. Photo: Sandra Simpson

She is this week getting ready for the annual Bay of Plenty Orchid Society show in Te Puke on Friday and Saturday (April 8 and 9) from 10am-4pm. Wilma not only has orchids in the judged section but also puts plenty of plants on the sales table.

Raised in Mount Maunganui – and recalling as a teenager catching the ferry to work in Tauranga (sitting by the funnel in winter to stay warm) – Wilma lives in Papamoa where, because of frosts and salt-laden winds, she grows her orchids under cover.

She prefers smaller orchids, some of them extremely miniature, and has an array of magnifying glasses for visitors to view and appreciate the flowers. Small plants means she can fit more into her greenhouse and grows them both in pots (on layered shelves) and mounted on wood, ranging from hard wood to cork (hanging in tiers on racks). There are another three shade houses in the back yard, containing mostly bromeliads and tillandsias with an orchid here and there, plus more bromeliads outside.


Aerangis hyaloides mounted on a piece of cork. This orchid, grown by Helen McDonald, is native to one area in Madagascar and is included in Wilma’s collection. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Wilma joined the Bay of Plenty Orchid Society in 1980, taken along by friends who later dropped out, and since then has been newsletter editor, secretary, president and is now treasurer.

She is also a member of the Tauranga Orchid Society (which meets in the evening; the BOP society has daytime meetings) and when she spent 15 months working in Auckland Wilma joined a subtropical plant group and a cycad group. “I’ll grow anything,” she says. “Anything that tickles my fancy.”

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Aerangis mystacidii is found from Tanzania to South Africa, including Swaziland. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The highlight of her involvement with orchids was a 1996 trip to South America that included the world conference in Brazil and a night’s stay at the ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu in Peru.

“As a collector I prefer species orchids over hybrids so to see them in their natural environment among the ruins was a dream come true. The day-tourists left at 3pm and then the mist came down. It was magic.

“The plants can be interesting in their own right – their roots, the way they hang, their new growths – even without flowers,” Wilma says. “But you have to keep looking at them, a flower spike can appear almost overnight.”

This article was first published in the Bay of Plenty Times and appears here with permission.

BOP Orchid Society champion blooms

Popped back to the show this afternoon – and had a lovely surprise waiting for me. Second prize in the Cattleya section! And with my first-ever entry in an orchid show!! Couldn’t stop smiling. So here is SLC Coastal Gold ‘Geyser Gold’ (the SLC stands for Sophrolaeliocattleya, from Sophronitis, Laelia and Cattleya, its parent genera).

Photo: Sandra Simpson

But the main event, naturally, was the champions’ table:

Champion of the show was Rhyncattleanthe Lee’s Ruby ‘Cherry Ripe’ grown by Lee and Roy Neale of Auckland. Photo: Sandra Simpson

This magnificent spray of Oncidium trulliforum flowers won Reserve Champion for Carl Christensen of Napier. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Tauranga Orchid Society meets once a month on a Tuesday evening in the Wesley Church hall in 13th Ave. The BOP Orchid Society meets once a month on a Sunday afternoon in Te Puke, contact Faye Diprose. It’s perfectly admissible to belong to both!

Te Puke Orchid Show 2015

Spent the morning at the Te Puke Orchid show – it’s on until 4pm today and tomorrow (April 11) from 10am-4pm and I can honestly say the $3 entry is well worth it. There is, as usual, a great display of flowering plants, plenty of orchids for sale (yes, I bought some more), other plants for sale, paintings for sale, orchid growing supplies (pots, bark, stakes, etc), raffles and a nice cuppa with home baking in the side room. You’ll find the show in the Memorial Hall in Te Puke’s main street.

As well as members of the host BOP Orchid Society selling plants, there are also a number of out-of-town commercial growers with orchids for sale, plants that you may not find elsewhere.

Here are a few photos from today to whet your appetite.

Tauranga Orchid Society vice-president Conrad Coenen decided to have some fun with the society’s display, cheekily titled ‘Fifty Shades of Autumn’. The male gardener is wearing a pair of furry handcuffs and has plenty of rope beside him (I’m not going to ask where the props came from!). Photo: Sandra Simpson

The dramatic colours of the slipper orchid, Paphiopedilum maudiae x maudiae. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Dendrobium subclausum var subclausum flowers on bare canes. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Miltonia Mayflower x Goodale Moir. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Breaking a promise

Well it was only to myself. No more plants, I said, I’m only going to the auction to make up the numbers … famous last words. Mind you, not all of the $80 spent was on orchids, some of it went on jam, lemons, books and bromeliads.

The one orchid I really had my eye on went to another bidder – twice! Never mind, there’s always the Tauranga show in September.

Really, nice plants (many with flower spikes on) for $2, $3, $5 … who could resist? The old milk-bottle crate that came with four Dendrobium orchids tucked in it was a charming bonus and brought back memories of lugging the milk in from the gate in such a crate on cold and frosty mornings.

Thanks to the BOP Orchid Society for a great afternoon out.

Rare chance to see

Had a marvellous time at the BOP Orchid Society show in Te Puke yesterday – lots of photos, lots of chat and bought a few plants.

The show is on again until 4pm today so if you’re in the area and you want to see some beautiful specimens make sure you go along to the Memorial Hall in the main street. Russell Hutton of Auckland, who has a sales table, has mounted a gorgeous towering display of flowering plants, many of them not often seen.

But the orchid I’m featuring here is in the main display and owned by Conrad Coenen of Apata (you may remember Conrad won the supreme award at last year’s Tauranga Orchid Society show, with another plant).

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Stanhopea oculata grown by Conrad Coenen. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Stanhopea oculata isn’t, in itself, that rare or unusual. What is unusual is that it is rarely seen in shows. Why? I’ll let Conrad explain.

“It had been in bud for about 2 weeks and was showing no sign at all of opening. So to try and encourage it, I moved the plant inside for a bit more warmth. Still nothing.

“So on Thursday morning after we’d had our morning coffee my wife and I breathed on it and lo and behold, the buds began to open sequentially all the way down the stem – and in about 15 or 20 minutes the whole spike was open … and by Sunday it will be finished.

“By the way, I don’t think our coffee breath had anything to do with it, it was just the right time for it to open.”

And that’s why Stanhopeas are so rarely shown – the show has to be perfectly timed to catch a flower that opens quickly and lasts just two or three days. (Compare that to Dianne Hintz’ Phalaenopsis White Witch which has been in flower for 18 months and shows no sign of fading!)

But what caught my attention about this plant was its perfume – walking by the part of the display it’s in I couldn’t help but turn towards it, lean in and try and identify which flower the amazing scent was coming from. Conrad describes it as vanilla-peppermint-chocolate. I couldn’t break it down into anything particular but it was phenomenal.

Stanhopea oculata is native to Central America and, like all Stanhopeas, must be basket grown and the basket lined with soft material as the flower spikes push out underneath the plant (ie, it flowers through the bottom of the basket).