Monday, March 29, 2010

SEPOS at Longwood Gardens, March, 2010

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Orchid Show held at Longwood Gardens took place this last weekend. Our orchid society's exhibit (National Capitol) received third place ribbon amongst the orchid societies.

This was my first time attending the show, and it lived up to its reputation for being a beautiful location for hosting orchid exhibits. Below are pics of individual orchids that caught my eye.

Cymbidium Little Beauty 'Black Shower' (Cricket x canaliculatum), exhibited by Fishing Creek Orchids. Several exhibits had Cym. Little Black Sambo mericlones, which quickly became boring. I had never seen Cym. Little Beauty before, and the form and color is much better than the Cym. Little Black Sambo mericlones.

Cym. King Agate (Mad Magic x Miss Muffet), exhibited by Duffin's Orchids

Cymbidium Jim Duffin (madidum x bicolor), Longwood Garden collection. I know it's not a good picture, but Longwood had this hanging high in their Orchid room, so I did the best I could with my camera.

Cymbidium madidum, Longwood Garden collection

Cattleya schilleriana, exhibited by Pinelands Orchid Society

Cattleya intermedia var. Tipo, exhibited by Plantio La Orquidea

Cattleya Mildred Rives 'Orchidglade', FCC/AOS (Cattleya Rita Renee x Cattleya Bou Philippo), exhibited by National Capitol Orchid Society, grower Jeff Johnson

Rlc. Arabesque 'Golden Zebra', AM/AOS (Rlc. Golden Slippers x Rlc. Mamie's Treasures), exhibited by Waldor Orchids

(Lc. Trick or Treat x Schomburkia undulata), exhibited by Plantio La Orquidea. One fraction of a beautiful specimen plant.

Schombocattleya Dulatiaca (Laelia undulata x Guarianthe aurantiaca), exhibited by Plantio La Orquidea. One fraction of a beautiful specimen plant.

Cattleya Koolau Seagulls 'Volcano Queen', AM/AOS (Cattleya Wilbur Chang x Cattleya Seagulls Milarina), exhibited by Waldor Orchids

Maxillaria picta 'Estrella de Esperanza' AM/AOS, exhibited by Southeastern Pennsylvania Orchid Society and Create A Scene. This is but a small fraction of a wonderful specimen plant fully loaded with flowers. An excellent example of what I might one day achieve with my little Max. picta seedling.

Paraphalaenopsis (Pps.) Eileen (Pph. labukensis x Pph. Boediardjo), exhibited by Fishing Creek Orchids. I had never seen a Pph. before, so both the flowers and the leaf habit caught my attention.

Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens (Large Yellow Lady's Slipper), exhibited by Mt. Cuba Center. This is my first season trying to grow two Cypripediums, so this exhibit provided examples of what to expect.

Cypripedium parviflorum var. parviflorum (Lesser Yellow Lady's Slipper), exhibited by Mt. Cuba Center

Cypripedium kentuckiense (Southern Lady's Slipper), exhibited by Mt. Cuba Center

Renanthera (un-named hybrid), Longwood Garden collection. I find Renantheras captivating, for both their color and flower form. But, they are too big for my growing space.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

35th Annual CSA Congress

It’s been a busy week now that I’m back home, but I wanted to follow up on last week’s pictures from the Santa Barbara Orchid Show. Concurrent with show was the Cymbidium Society of America Congress. It was the 35th annual Congress, and everyone celebrated Ernest Hetherington’s 93rd birthday. My only regret was that I hadn’t attended the CSA Congress in previous years.

The day-long symposium included programs by Bob Harris, Bert Klein, Dr. Masahiro Saitoh, Mohan Pradhan, and Chuckie, a banquet, and an auction.

Bob Harris described the challenges of growing warmth- and cool-tolerant Cymbidiums on Hawaii, which he’s solved in part by utilizing two, separate growing facilities with distinctly different microclimates. Bob emphasizes warmth tolerant Cymbidium species, e.g. ensifolium, sinense, madidum, devonianum, and parishii because there is no strong season in Hawaii and the warmth-tolerant backgrounds yield multiple, often overlapping, flowerings throughout the year. Given the quantities of rainfall, Bob has learned to change the media formulations to respond to the difficulties in supply availability on the island and increased water acidity not normally experienced by others using ground, treated or tap water. Another consequence of the profuse rainfall is the development of huge pseudobulbs.

Bert Klein provided a humorous presentation on cultural practices for growing Cymbidium in large-scale for the cut flower market in the Netherlands.

Dr. Saitoh gave a nice program for successfully improving color saturation, color patterning, flower shape and/or size in Paphiopedilum godefroyae by interspecific line breeding. This was a rare opportunity to see how one can achieve desired results over a course of successive generations. I am unaware of any Cymbidium growers who are engaged in a similar strategy for any particular Cymbidium species. Rather, one is more likely to find an “improved” species achieved through genome duplication—from diploid to tetraploid. Dr. Saitoh did not reveal how many [denominator] seedlings he had to evaluate at each generation before he found the most desirable plant(s) to become the parent(s) for the next generation, so the efficiency of this selection scheme is unclear. However, the pictures of his results were impressive. Dr. Saitoh intimated that the Japanese have a flasking formulation/method that increases the growth rate of seedlings that decreases the time to flower. Combined with the optimized out-of-flask culture conditions, the overall generation time is reduced, and he can select for desirable cultivars relatively quickly.

Chuckie performed double-duty! One of the speakers experienced technical difficulties, so Chuckie was asked to lead a discussion on short notice (coffee break) to fill in the time. His programs emphasized the use of species in historical and modern Cymbidium hybridization.

Chuckie discussed the practice of remaking historical grexes using new cultivars of a species, e.g. Cym. Little Black Sambo remade with different color forms of canaliculatum. I don’t recall if he mentioned whether the LBS remakes are from “improved”, line-bred canliculatum cultivars, as per Dr. Saitoh’s demonstration. Cym. canaliculatum has a reputation here in the U.S. for being a large plant and difficult to bloom because of its sensitivity to water during the Winter. Are the Aussies line breeding canaliculatum to select for smaller habit plants that are easier to flower? Or is that a non-issue for them?

Chuckie also proposed that the color range, e.g. oranges, in Cymbidium hybrids we presently enjoy were available back in the early 1900’s. The comparison between historical hybridization and modern day hybridization sequed onto whether conversion from diploid to tetraploid is really the direction Cymbidium hybridization should go. Tetraploidy is useful to overcome sterility issues with certain species, e.g. primary ensifolium and floribundum hybrids, and thereby expanding the range of potential hybrids, as well as increase flower size. However, diploids provide a greater base of genetic diversity in that there are simply more diploids extant in the world, and the tetraploid forms represent only a select few genomes. It was further asserted that diploids also yield an increased flower count, provide a wider color range and greater vigor than tetraploids.

Lastly, Chuckie was instructional for demonstrating appreciation for flower details, and how this contributes to a hybrid’s desirability. For almost every hybrid photo he displayed, he pointed out small color patterns, intensities, art-shades, etc… that could easily be overlooked or brushed aside if one’s attention was directed solely to first impressions to overall form, color and flower count.

Chuckie: “I’ve never been bored in front of this flower.” (Unfortunately, I did not note the flower to which his comment refers. Perhaps that is unimportant…)

Mohan discussed habitat and orchid conservation efforts in Sikkim, as it appears that Sikkim is experiencing pressure to develop land to accommodate immigration from India. Some of the conservation efforts include working with schoolchildren to teach them how to grow orchids in vitro and potentially re-introduce endangered orchid species, e.g. Cym. whiteae, into their natural range. Mohan discussed that Sikkim is trying to develop orchid industries for cut flower to accommodate the huge demand for orchids for Indian weddings, which is presently being met via importation of cut flowers from Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands. And lastly, Mohan advocated for eco-tourism, encouraging us to come visit so that we could tour the nature preserves and see blooming [Cymbidium] orchids in situ. I have a passport itching to be used…

During the speaker panel/question and answer session, someone from the audience asked if fragrance was a trait that was intentionally bred and selected for in modern hybridization programs. The reply was generally “No” because fragrance is subjective (pleasant/unpleasant/no fragrance perceived) and the genetics behind fragrance appears to be poorly understood. In a conversation with Chuckie afterwards, he mentioned to me that the Indian eburneum subspecies is more fragrant than the Burmese subspecies (now in bloom for me, below).

So, depending upon the parents, a given hybrid may be more or less fragrant. I also noticed that Cym. White Rabbit (below 1) in George Hatfield’s greenhouse, and Cym. (lowio-mastersii x Summer Sands), an Andy Easton cross (below 2), are strongly fragrant.

However, the Cym. mastersii that I have is not nearly as fragrant as these mastersii hybrids. Perhaps this difference is also attributable to variants within the species.

In addition to the CSA Congress, the Santa Barbara Show provided a multitude of socializing opportunities. It was a real pleasure to meet Chuckie in person! While at George Hatfield’s greenhouse, I asked Chuckie a question about flower colors and pigmentation. Chuckie then proceeded to give me a condensed lecture on the basic colors (green, white, yellow and red), on leaf and flower structure (palisade, mesophyll and epidermal layers) and where pigments are located (cytoplasmic vs organelle/granule). Best of all, he retrieved his hand lens from the car and then showed me how to look for pigment cells on the flowers to distinguish how the overall flower color we see is actually obtained from different, overlapping pigmentation patterns across the flower tissue.

The combination of renewing friendships, sharing breakfasts and/or dinners with Torrance CSA members Everett, Stan, Richard and Dave, visiting with Alice and Wayne at Santa Barbara Orchid Estate, clerking for show ribbon and AOS judging, and spending time in George’s greenhouse, in addition to the events discussed above, made for a great vacation!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Santa Barbara Orchid Show

Below are some pics from last week's Santa Barbara Orchid Show.

Cymbidium (Fancy Free x Via Spring Snow 'Patricia')

Cymbidium Rhode Island Red 'Tristan', exhibited by Gallup and Stribling
This clone was screened by AOS, but was not scored for an award because the flowers were considered too closely bunched along the inflorescence. However, I thought this clone has the darkest saturation and best form of all the ten seedlings displayed in the exhibit.

Cymbidium (Solana Beach 'St. Francis' x Pinata 'Blacklake')

Best Pink Cymbidium of Show
Unregistered Cymbidium 'Nancy'
(Enchanted Profile x Helen Tangcay)
first bloom seedling

Cymbidium (Rosemary Goode x Pywacket 'Royale')

Cymbidium First Dance 'Cha Cha'
(Last Tango x Tethys)

Cymbidium (Sidney Harbor x devonianum)

Cymbidium Nancy Miyamoto 'New Horizon'
(George Formby x Vogelsang), exhibited by Hatfield Orchids

Best Novelty Cymbidium
Cymbidium Dotz 'Cutie'
(Arts x Splatters), first bloom seedling, exhibited by Casa de las Orquideas (who also won CSA Gold Medal Outstanding Cymbidium Display)

Cymbidium Mimi 'SanBar Feathered'

Cymbidium goeringii 'Setsuzan', exhibited by Seed Engei

Cymbidium goeringii 'Mebina', exhibited by Seed Engei

Best Oriental Cymbidium/Jensoa Enthusiasts
Cymbidium tortisepalum var. longibracteatum