Orchid of the Year 2015

The annual Orchid of the Year award was made tonight at the NZ Orchid Show and Conference dinner with the honour going to Masdevallia Otago Gold ‘Screamer’ grown by Maurice Bycroft of Matamata.

A photo of it graces the cover of this year’s Orchid Journal, a publication available to members of all societies affiliated to the New Zealand Orchid Council.

The plant, which has orange flowers, was bred by Ron Maunder of Tauranga and named Otago Gold by Graham Letts, who lives in Alexandra in central Otago. The cultivar ‘Screamer’ was named by the late George Fuller, where this plant originated.

The dinner saw a number of other awards made: Special Service Award to Diana Elfleet of Auckland; Judges’ Long-service Awards (more than 25 years) to Allan Rockell (Bay of Plenty), Mike Davidson (Waikato) and David Turner (Hawkes Bay); and the John Easton Excellence Award to Clive Perry (Taranaki).

The rain arrived today from mid-morning which may have deterred some from attending the show – tomorrow is your last chance. The point was made at tonight’s dinner that the displays in the ASB Showgrounds pavilions are of an international standard … plus there’s the chance to purchase beautiful plants, interesting plants or even beautiful, interesting plants!

The show is open from 10am-4pm, entry $10. See you there! Just to whet your appetite, here are some photos from the last couple of days.

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Cattleya Stippled Sunset ‘Sundown’ grown by Lee and Roy Neale is Champion Hybrid Cattleya. Photo: Sandra Simpson
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A delightful tableau from the NZ Orchid Society’s display – Dendrobium Teagon’s Delight with a watercolour painting of it. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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The NZ branch of the Cymbidium Society of America has pulled two classic cars into its display. This is detail from the 1962 Dodge 330 Dart. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Orchid evaporation

Tauranga has this weekend played host to a national seminar for orchid judges, which culminates this afternoon in the annual meeting of the Orchid Council of New Zealand. The Tauranga Orchid Society has organised not only a premises and display plants for the seminar, but also last night organised a dinner at the race-course for seminar registrants, as well as members of both the Tauranga and Bay of Plenty orchid societies, and it was a chance for the Tauranga group to mark its 35th birthday. (The seasoned members of the committee know what they’re about and it’s run like clockwork with very little input from committee newbies needed.)

Judges had come from all over the country – from the Bay of Islands to Otago and all points in between – for the seminar.

Guest speaker was Roy Walker who talked about “evaporation” as it applies to orchid society memberships throughout the country. Too many snowy tops in the room, he reckoned, and went on to challenge the Auckland region societies to increase their membership – having fewer than 1000 combined membership across four societies wasn’t good enough in an area with a population of more than 1 million – and the incoming national councillors to do something about making membership more attractive to younger people.

Roy’s talk caused cheers and, occasionally, jeers and one non-orchid person present commented that “some people in the room were not impressed”. I didn’t think I was hearing anything I hadn’t worked out for myself so maybe it was Roy’s somewhat idiosyncratic approach. Anyway, he did what a guest speaker should do – offered some laughs and was thought-provoking. Here is the evening in a few photos.

Roy Neale introduces guest speaker Roy Walker. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The New Zealand branch of the Cymbidium Society of America (CSA) took the opportunity to hand out awards from the parent organisation.

Joe Vance (left), president of the New Zealand CSA branch, presents an award to Conrad Coenen of Tauranga. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Yvonne and Allan Rae of Palmerston North with their CSA awards. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Susan Tucker accepts two CSA awards from Joe Vance. Ross Tucker was in the audience but told to sit down and let Susan take the limelight for a change! Photo: Sandra Simpson

Betty Vance kisses away the tear that rolled down Joe’s cheek when the couple’s three CSA awards were announced – for orchids they bred themselves. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Lee Neale receives a CSA Award for Leroy Orchids from Joe Vance. Photo: Sandra Simpson

After a delicious roast meal, the Tauranga Orchid Society marked its 35th birthday with the cutting of an enormous carrot cake (in fact, there were two of the delicious things to make sure we had enough to go round) – founding president Ron Maunder did the honours.

Founding president of the Tauranga Orchid Society Ron Maunder (left) with current president Barry Curtis just before the cake cutting. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The final presentation was somewhat spontaneous as the recipient couldn’t be there until just as the evening was ending, but the surprise and delight on his face was lovely to see. Bill Pepperell of the Waikato Orchid Society has grown the bloom named as the New Zealand Orchid of the Year – Fredclarkeara After Dark ‘Toulmx’, a black orchid. See a photo here.

Bill Pepperell with his framed certificate and photo of his orchid, presented by Margaret Lomas of the Orchid Council of New Zealand. Photo: Sandra Simpson

And why were we all there, whether judges or not? For the love of these extraordinary plants and flowers …

Dracula wallisii grown by Audrey Hewson of Tauranga. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Calanthe vestita, a terrestrial orchid that is deciduous, grown by Dennis Chuah of Auckland. Photo: Sandra Simpson

An orchid that looks more like a bromeliad or a hosta – Stenorrhynchos speciosum is native to Mexico and Central America. Photo: Sandra Simpson

This ball of Epidendrum porpax was transported carefully from and to New Plymouth by Joy Wray. Photo: Sandra Simpson

To find out where your nearest orchid society is in New Zealand, click here.