Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cym. banaense

Cym. banaense has been in bloom for me this past week. According to my nose, it has a spicy and sweet fragrance. Quite nice! My plant produced two spikes per pseudobulb, but only four flowers per spike. The flowers are do not open fully, much like Cym. mastersii, cochleare and elegans. Also like mastersii, and eburneum, the calli are richly golden and there is a central golden patch surrounded by a pink suffusion in the middle of the lip. Charming.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas wish for the CSA

It's almost Christmas, just a week away. There's been much discussion between family members via email, phone or around the dinner table about what presents to get each relative. Besides the pre-Christmas drama, and doing my part to be a dutiful citizen by spurring the economy, I use the end of calendar year to think about what improvements I should make in the coming year. Of course, the care of my orchid collection is high on the list. I've gathered random notes, comments and suggestions to help organize my thoughts, but the other day I took advantage of being close to National Agricultural Library to browse through back-issues of the Cymbidium Society of America (CSA) journals (the names have changed over the many decades) which only goes to 1975.

So, here's my Christmas wish for the CSA: Please switch from paper to electronic publishing, and scan all the back-issues for re-publishing.

At issue is that there is a wealth of information and historical commentary that is simply lost for most Cymbidium growers simply because they've come to the hobby either in their middle years, or more directly, in the 21st century. Are these growers destined to recreate the wheel? Or, should they have access to what had been taught over 50 years ago, and in the intervening years, so that they can avoid the mistakes of the past, and use that information to improve?

Frank Fordyce (Orchid Advocate 3(3): 80-84, 1977) addressed these issues, in part, by writing (I'm paraphrasing here...) that "there is a lack of information available in printed form that has been accumulated from previous hybridizing efforts. The [CSA] can provide a tremendous service to its membership now and in the future by the establishment of a long range program to record information that would be important to use in hybridizing. [T]here is an overall complacency with people who are growing or hybridizing Cymbidiums and the fact that they are finding very little progress is being made in their field. Putting the accumulated knowledge gained from years of observation into experimental practice makes a good hybridizer" (and grower, I would add).

Furthermore, I found interviews with now-historical Cymbidium personalities and discussions of grexes and particular clones thereof that are really interesting. For example, I've seen Cym. James Toya 'Geyserland', but I know nothing of the man for which this plant was named. However, there is a story about James Toya in the May-June, 1985 issue. Who knew??

Did you know that there is an article on Cymbidium keeping-quality tests as cut flowers (Jan-Feb, 1985)? This topic is of immediate relevance to me because I have had a stem of (lowio-mastersii x Summer Sands) on the dining table for weeks (photo taken before I cut the stem), still going strong and fragrant.

I recently gave a talk to our judging center on Miniature Cymbidiums. This program necessitated that I go to the library read through the historical literature. But what if the library simply does not have the journals in their stacks? How is one to do research on a topic if the reference articles on that topic no longer exist? Thankfully, the library does contain many back-issues of various orchid journals because the talk would have been so much poorer and uninteresting in the absence of the historical information. But, the collections are incomplete, and there is nothing of the pre-1975 CSA publications. Is that information simply lost forever? If so, what a tragedy.

A common theme that I've often heard is that many orchid societies are suffering from declining memberships. Our own local club has been experiencing this phenomenon, which has spurred us to re-think what service we offer to our members to make it worth their while to join and participate. I think for CSA, a clear service only they can provide is to unearth their history, and re-distribute that wealth of knowledge and experience to the present and future members to promote the Cymbidium hobby.