Potatoes, preserves, petunias and pansies



It all started many years ago at one of these country shows – you know those events that used to be held in many small communities around the country where the locals brought along their potatoes, preserves, petunias and pansies to show everyone just how clever they were. This year it was an ordinary event – plenty of flowers and vegetables, plenty of talk on the weather, yesterdays ewe fair, and what the neighbour was supposed to have done.

But there was something different this year. What sort of plant was THAT!!,   that someone had brought along. I, in my tender years, had never seen anything like it, and I was young enough to think that I had seen everything!

What a strange creation of nature – growing in some strange potting mixture. Funny looking heavy stems bearing a great heavy leaf on each, like nothing I had ever seen. And the flower – large pale mauve petals, and what was the funny bottom ‘petal’ that was coloured such a deep gorgeous mauve with contrasting gold markings; was it really part of the flower? And what was that other thing – a touch of perfume from the lady standing nearby, – NO, - it was from the flower.

It did not win ‘champion of the show’ – most people just did not know what to make of this strange creation of nature, but to me at my impressionable age it left a permanent mark. I do not know what the plant was (although I now know it was a cattleya), but that image of that single plant has remained with me. I knew it was an orchid, but apart from that I knew nothing else about it.

Many years later, a friend introduced my to the late Ollie Dare of Greytown. He grew orchids, and one weekend I was invited to visit his glasshouse. He had some cattleyas, but alsn many other orchids including cymbidiums, all in flower; flowers of all colours and all beautiful in my eyes. With the generosity new recognised as being universal among orchid growers, I cam away with a plant – which many years later I still have and flower regularly. But I also obtained another address of a contact for a society being formed in Wellington.

Lew Wyatt, the contact given to me, invited me to his glasshouse to see more of those orchids, and he told me of the details of a new society being formed which was to have its inaugural meeting in a few days.

 I attended that meeting with some trepidation, and the sight of so many flowers on display by those attending this meeting showed me what the world of orchids was all about the colours, size and range made me gasp with appreciation.

After what I had seen I just had to go to the sales table. I did not know what to purchase, but a very nice lady suggested I try Dendribium kingianum. Little did I know that this was really a further step in an addiction that has lasted for many years, and which shows little sign of subsiding.

Now, with several hundred plants I think of how may life had changed as a result of that meeting with an orchid at that country show so many years ago. And of the wonderful orchid people I have met over all those years.

But the moral of this story. -- Don’t go to a country show and fall in love with a strange flower if you want your life to go on as before.

Site established 9th May 1998