These Days

by Colleen Rochette

Despite the milder temperatures, the air has continued to remain dry and tingly these past few days. I still insist on wrapping my body in layers of black wool. But during my recent morning bouts, my exposed flesh has not been victimized by the ever-so-present Jack Frost. With the spring solstice around the corner and our large loving sun becoming stronger and more apparent, daybreak has been much gentler on my soul. After awhile winter can feel so long. The re-occurrence of red ears, noses and fingertips becomes rather tiresome. After many months of the cold constantly nipping at your delicate extremities, the world appears fragile and slow.

As I walked to the train today the sun gently kissed the posterior of my hands. She kissed my neck, she kissed my cheeks. As I became weary, waiting for a frigid breeze to tear her warmth from the surface of my skin, she continued onward and laid kisses upon my nose and my forehead. I was smitten with her persistence. A new sort of excitement and realization of an alternate seasonal life is now upon the horizon.

Recently, I started to ponder why I often begin my posts with musings about the weather and the seasons. I concluded that it is because all of these little things matter so much to me. The East Coast is so varied and so beautiful. It is refreshing to be nudged to start anew each year, a constant transformation.

After being in Brooklyn for 13 years, the never ending din and constant reminder that I live amongst millions has somewhat slipped from my gentle radar. I find myself thinking about our weather, considering the humidity, gazing up at the blue sky, smiling at the moon and fantasizing about flowers. I love to see the seasons change. The barren trees stripped of their foliage by the wind, their naked skeletons revealed. New buds forming on cue and exploding into an abundance of green life that kindly camouflages our flighty feathered friends and our magical ally cats. And we shall not forget that all of these little seasonal specialties coincide with the livelihood of my indoor orchid friends. Nature’s pendulum is beginning to swing back into a more favorable position.

In my previous post I mentioned that I was going to the Philadelphia Flower show with a few of my favorite ladies. Despite being a bit ill, we had a wonderful time. I painted some paper orchids so we could fashion some festive flare for ourselves. I decided to wear a headdress made of Esmeralda cathcartii flowers. I also painted a few Vanda coerulea blossoms as well. The photo above captures the post show remnants. I will say that these paper beauties were far more abundant before we departed.

After visiting the flower show for the 4th time, I have decided that I need to take a break from this event for a few years. My favorite part of the flower show is always the judged selection of plants and orchids. Compared to previous years, the orchid presentation appeared to be a little sparse. I was slightly disappointed. I think that I may try to visit the SEPOS International Orchid Show at the end of April so I can make googly eyes at a more diverse selection of orchids.

I suppose that it was a good idea to make my spring wish list before going to the flower show. My mind was already set on a few select orchids, so no impulsive purchases were made that day. I did come home with a rather large clump of a very endearing miniature bromeliad called Abromeitiella brevifolia. She is currently living amongst my other cacti and succulents. Additionally, in hopes of reviving my once hearty begonia collection, I purchased a “Red Fred” begonia. I envision a small begonia station being fashioned in front of one of my bedroom windows this spring.

This winter I have been completely obsessed with Esmeralda cathcartii. The concentric circles and tiger markings that decorate her busy blossoms embody so much beauty and strength. Esmeralda was a birthday gift to myself back in late November. I potted her within a mix of hydroton and red volcanic rock. I recently thought that a root was appearing from her side, but as the days pass I am beginning to think that this may be a sneaky spike. Only time will tell.

After failing to revive many imported Dendrobium cinnabarinums, I became rather fed up. In January I decided to take a leap of faith and purchase a domestic flask of these exciting beauties. Miss cinnabarinum has been my other true love for quite some time now. Her red flowers and teensy mouth make my heart tremble. To make shipping a little easier, the vendor kindly de-flasked the seedlings and shipped to me in a sealed plastic bag.

In hopes of producing tetraploid (4N) orchids, the vendor had treated these seedlings to induce polyploidy. It seems as if the most common methods of altering ploidy use either Colchicine and Oryzalin. I am unsure what substance was used or if it was effective, but I am curious to see how these seedlings mature and what their leaves and flowers may look like.

When I received this clump of life, I untangled the seedlings and gently laid them out upon a few paper towels. They were arranged by size and each one was put into a community pot. I did not discard the smaller seedlings. Throughout my life, the runts always seem to be a-okay.

The baby Dendrobium cinnabarinums have been tucked into their community pots. I trimmed the plastic pots down so they are about 2″ tall. I used dampened sphagnum moss to make them comfy. They are watered from the bottom of the pots. I simply dunk them in a bowl of lukewarm water until the moss is dampened.

Above, the seedlings resting in their new home. I opted not to buy a little plastic seed house. The compots simply sit upon my humidity trays in my living room and live underneath a large glass vessel. After a few weeks, I slid the vessel off of the edge of the humidity trays a little bit to allow cooler air into their very humid environment. I will slowly introduce them to my growing area, but I am holding off a little bit until spring is in full swing.

Leptotes bicolor is ripening nicely. This lively lady thrives within my bathroom. About a year ago, I purchased six of these small orchids from a vendor down in Florida for $40. These modest babies were growing in teensy 1″ pots and were sold to me as a group. I gave a few to my Mum and mounted the rest for myself. They seem to be very happy.

This winter, fat little buds started forming all over this cork mount. As you can see, some buds are coming along more quickly than others. Some appear only as a mere white sliver of a sheath within the crease of her terete leaves. I assume that the blossoms will be appearing one after another due to the staggered nature of her development.

Brassavola NOID was one of my very first orchids. I have been staring at these back bulbs for almost 2 years now. After patiently waiting, I may be able to identify this orchid.

A single bud nestled within the newest leaf. It is developing very, very slowly.

On a sad note, I may have to depose of my Podangis dactyloceras and Aerangis luteoalba var. rhodosticta. Both of these orchids have bloomed reliably for me this past year but have not quite recovered from the black fungus attack that happened this fall. They are both looking pretty sad. I am going to wait a few days for Aerangis‘ blossoms to fade before I toss her. I may try to save the smaller growth on my Podangis.

Dendrobium kingianum also started to develop some very strange markings on her leaves. They appear to be a black circle with a dot in the middle. I do not know if I am worrying too much, but these markings look very similar to the photos that I have seen of Orchid Fleck Virus. I do not think that these gross patterns could have been caused by a fungus. She is currently sitting on top of my sewing machine while I mope for a few days.

Otherwise, everyone else seems to be doing wonderfully. Thunia marshalliana and Monnierara Magic ‘Witchcraft’  have awaken from their long winter rest. Cadetia taylori is in full bloom yet again and new growths and roots are being produced by most of my orchids. I am curious to see if any of my Cattleyas or other Brassavolas will blossom this spring.

March 19, 2015. A quick midnight photo update: The “No Bueno” club.

Dendrobium kingianum – no bueno.

 Aerangis luteoalba var. rhodosticta – no bueno.

Podangis dactyloceras – no bueno.