Orchid News – November 2011

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  • 29 Oct    Trip to Easy Orchids
  • 3 Nov      AGM. Brian Newman
  • 6 Nov      Workshop at Gordon’s
  • 6 Nov      Botanica at Gardens
  • 1 Dec      Christmas and awards.

November Meeting

Our November meeting will start with our Annual General Meeting – the agenda is later in this newsletter.  We try to keep this AGM reasonable short.  We then have our regular meeting.

Our guest speaker is Brian Newman.  Those attending the workshops at Gordon’s in Woolgoolga will know Brian well. He will be talking about growing Catasetum orchids.  There was an interesting article about this family of orchids in a recent orchid magazine.


On 6th November the Botanic Gardens hosts Botanica.  We have taken part in this for the last few years.  It gives us an opportunity to display some of our plants, and to sell some plants.

At the meeting on 3rd November we will be asking for a few people to bring plants for the display, and for sale, and we will also be seeking a few volunteers to help with the sales table and with general supervision.

Committee Report

The committee held its October meeting at Don’s on 19th October.  There were several matters discussed.

  1. Committee was happy with the Spring Show. There were plenty of plants on display, and we had plenty of visitors.  Of course the weather is an important factor in this.  We considered several matters for future shows.
    • Should we continue to have the Spring Show at the Gardens?  What do you think?  We generally favour this idea.
    • Should we sell mature plants at our sales table, i.e. not just “in flower or in bud”.
    • Should we charge 20% commission on sales?
    • Who can be Show Marshall when Ivy eventually retires?  Are there any people who are prepared to learn?

    If you have any thoughts on any of these matters please speak to Ed or one of the committee.

  2. Committee also discussed arrangements for the AGM, the trip to Easy Orchids and the next workshop at Gordon’s.

The planned plant auction will be next year.

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Visit to Easy Orchids in Woodburn

On 29th October we are visiting Easy Orchids in Woodburn.  It is roughly a 2 hour drive.  The proprietors, Murray and Jean Shergold, are generous sponsors of our society, and they have a retail orchid nursery.

The plan is that we will meet at the visitors information  centre in Coffs Harbour at 9.30 am, arrange car pooling, and drive to Easy Orchids which is at 6 Sussex Street, Woodburn. Some members will make their own transport arrangements, and meet us at Easy Orchids.  When we arrive Murray and Jean will provide morning tea, and will show us around their nursery.

 Some Sarchochilus – interesting to see the range of colours.

Some Sarchochilus – interesting to see the range of colours.

There will be the opportunity for people to buy plants.  Some people might like to pre-order plants or other supplies by going to their web-site, making a selection and then ringing the order through to them.  They will then have things ready for you to collect when you arrive.

Their web address is http://www.easyorchids.com, and their phone number is 6682 2635.

There are several options for lunch. Some might like to take their own lunch with them, perhaps sandwiches, or a salad, or something else.  Or people could get something in Woodburn.  It has also been suggested that some people might like to stop in the township of Little Italy where there is a very nice eatery.  People can make their own choices about this.

Workshop at Gordon’s

The next workshop at Gordon’s will be on 6th November, not 30th October as previously mentioned. Gordon is away on a trip.

 Gordon at the workshop.

Gordon at the workshop.

We realise that this will clash with Botanica, but we have enough members that some can go to Gordon’s and other can assist with Botanica.

Nominations for AGM

At the AGM in November there will be elections for

  • President
  • Vice-president
  • Secretary
  • Treasurer
  • Three committee members

We now have nominations for each of these positions, but if there are further nominations we can have elections.

There are quite a few other things that people do to help make this a successful orchid society. These jobs are done by people who volunteer.  If you’re interested doing one of these jobs, or helping, please see Ed or one of the committee.

  • Newsletter editor
  • Show Marshall
  • Assistant show marshal
  • Publicity
  • Librarian
  • Supper
  • Monthly Comp points
  • Sales table
  • Memberships
  • Raffles
  • Hall set – up for meetings
  • Program
  • Sponsorships
  • Public Officer
  • Web-site

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Agenda for AGM

WELCOME to members and visitors

MINUTES of 2010 AGM – as printed in this newsletter


PRESIDENT’S REPORT – as printed in this newsletter

FINANCIAL REPORT – provided at meeting.

  1. Moved that annual subscription remain the same in 2010/11 as for this year, i.e. $10, and $15 for couples.

ELECTION of OFFICE BEARERS – Returning Officer Don Turner takes the chair.

  • President
  • Vice President
  • Secretary
  • Treasurer
  • Committee – 3 members.

Minutes of 2010 AGM

Members and visitors were welcomed.

Minutes of 2009 AGM were approved.  Mvd Steve Clemesha Scd Glad Fleming



PRESIDENT’S REPORT – Read by Don Turner

FINANCIAL REPORT – provided at meeting.  Moved that annual subscription remain the same in 2010/11 as for this year, i.e. $10 and $15 for couples. Mvd Glad Fleming Scd. Don Turner


Don Turner stepped down as President after four years of outstanding support. Ed Pearce will be new President with Steve Clemesha (vice president) acting for Ed while he is away.

All nominations for positions accepted.

President Ed Pearce

Vice President Steve Clemesha

Secretary Sherill Harrison

Treasurer Bruce Hall

Committee Don Turner, Leonie Strauss, Sue Williams

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President’s Report to AGM

This year has been a year with several high points, and a couple of low points.

A highlight was the 40th Anniversary dinner held at the Novotel.  It was an excellent venue, the food was good, and we were fortunate to have David Banks as our guest speaker.  It was pleasing too to see some of our earlier members such as our first President.

We had two shows, both at the Botanic Gardens this year because the Plaza wasn’t available to us due to the World Rally Championship.  The Spring Show was particularly successful with about 20 more plants on display this year than last year.  There were also plenty of people who were prepared to help with the duties.  Thanks to Show Marshall Ivy Wheeler and her team for running our shows so successfully.


The society has grown with several new members joining us, and we’ve had good attendances at meetings.  During the year we had a range of speakers on a wide variety of topics.  A big thank you to all our guest speakers.  The workshops run by Gordon and Brian have also been an important part of our program this year.

I would also like to thank our sponsors for their generous support.  The funds which they provide allow us to keep our membership fees as low as they are, and still have the prize money and services for members.  Thanks too to Paul Wicker for continuing to maintain our website.

I would also like to thank the committee for their efforts, and for the support they have given me.  There was extra work required this year due to my health issues. Committee meets almost every month to discuss issues and plan for the events that we have.

The low light was the passing of Glad Fleming and Bernie Hoffman during the year.  Both were long time members of the Coffs Harbour Orchid Society and made substantial contributions to making the society what it is today.

Eric Gordon’s Talk in September

Soft Cane Dendrobiums are commonly known as Nobile type Dendrobiums.  This grouping of plants makes up the genus Dendrobiums as it contains the type species Dendrobium Moniliforme.  There are about 55 to 60 species that range from Northern India in the west to Korea and Japan in the north and Australia in the south. The largest populations of species lie in the area of Indo-china where about 45 to 50 species are found with the rest spread amongst the other countries.

In general the bulk of these plants grow at moderate altitude in areas where the monsoon is the dominant weather pattern.  This ensures a hot humid and wet summer and a winter of little rain with clear sunny days and cold nights.  This then gives us a strong clue to the culture of these plants including the many hybrids we have available to us.

For successful cultivation of any plant we must supply a good balanced environment, which contains five major requirements at optimum levels.  These requirements are air, water, light, temperature and nutrients.

Air: as these plants are an epiphyte (grow on other plants) they require that the air is fresh and moving, as does any epiphyte.  This generally is not a problem as they should be grown either in the open or on trees in an elevated position or in a shade house where fresh air can pass through.

 Light:  soft canes require strong light levels even to full sun year round.  We grow a number of plants in the sun on a lattice on top of our side fence about 160cm to 180cm from the ground and have never seen a burnt leaf on them.  If a shade house is built for them a covering of 30% shade cloth is sufficient, however they can be grown successfully under 50%.

Temperature:  This is usually no problem along our coastline however once you leave the coast and move inland frost can be a real problem as these plants will not survive freezing.  Temperatures in Coffs Harbour can range from 0° in winter to 40°C plus in summer on occasion and even our outside plants come through with no problem.

Water:  these plants require a good supply of good fresh water throughout the hot weather and even in winter we never let our plants dry out.  On very hot days we give them a good watering in the morning and one or two lighter waterings through the day.

Many years ago it was said that to water soft canes in winter would make them produce aerial growths instead of flowers and at most you should mist them lightly so as to stop the canes from shrivelling.  I am a little disappointed that this old story is still around as I believe that they do require some light watering in dryer periods but of course not as much as in summer when growth is happening.

It will also be said that in their native habitat they receive little or no rain during winter.  This I agree with however although I have never been to the area where they grow I believe that nature being nature provides dews and mists with the change in day and night temperatures to the exposed roots, which are designed to absorb the moisture.

Fertiliser:  like water, soft canes require plenty of nutrition, especially during the growth season.  We use Seasol, Powerfeed and Nitrosol alternately at 1/2ml per litre of water at every watering and a chemical fertiliser at 1/4 strength about every 3 waterings.  Through the growth season of October to March the chemical fertiliser contains a moderate amount of nitrogen and during the colder weather there is no nitrogen in it at all.

During the growth period October to March we will still apply the fertiliser even during wet periods when there is a lull in the rain as we figure a bit more water won’t hurt and the benefits of the fertiliser are too good.

Over the last 9 years Dot and I have concentrated most of our efforts on these plants and have monitored them closely, keeping detailed logs of weather conditions and the progress of the plants and we have learned much.

 Some soft cane Dendrobiums in flower

Some soft cane Dendrobiums in flower


We with all due respect to past and present growers have found no time of rest with our observations as something seems to be going on at all times.

We now prefer to look upon winter as a time of metamorphosis.  When temperatures have a drop we have observed node swelling after just 2 weeks of sub 15°C. We see a 4-season year of growth, containing, bud initiation and flowering.

Growth starts in late July or August and progresses slowly until flowering.  After flowering has finished the new pseudo bulbs will recommence their growth rate until March when they should be completed.  This of course has been their best growth season and also the time to have applied moderate nitrogen based fertiliser.

Over the next month or so the new canes will fatten up and it is important not to starve them of water at this time.  It is also time to cut the nitrogen from your fertiliser.

From about the second week in August flowers will start opening depending on the weather conditions.  It is now time to sit back and enjoy the fruit of our labours.

I would like to thank Sandy and Ollie Anderson who for a number of years ran Bananacoast Orchids and imported many fine soft canes from Hawaii.  We may well have given up growing these beautiful orchids after an early and utter failure if Sandy had not advised and encouraged us all those years ago.  I think they became our mentors for a number of years without really knowing it.

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Steve Clemesha’s Talk

Steve talked to us tonight about growing Phalaenopsis orchids in the house.

Phalaenopsis are considered to be one to the best plants for indoor cultivation as the night temperatures aren’t too cold and they like living in roughly the same comfortable conditions we do.  They will die if outside and temperatures go below 6°.

They were first found in the wild in most Indonesian provinces in mountainous regions right down to Queensland.  As they are found across south east Asia it is interesting to note the lip widens on the flowers.

 Steve at our last meeting.

Steve at our last meeting.


Phalaenopsis Gigantia (four horns) has large leaves and need much the same conditions as Cattleyas.  They like to dry out a bit and could find an orchid house too moist though Phalaenopsis do like being misted.  This needs to be done in the mornings to allow the leaves to dry during the day to minimise leaf rot.  It is important to note that they will not do well in bathrooms or on top of fridges.

Phalaenopsis Amabillis (two horns) – has smaller leaves and a purplish colour under the leaves.

Steve grows all his Phalaenopsis in coconut chip.  He advises not to let them dry out and finds watering once a week in winter and more often in the heat of summer.  In summer is when they will generally respond well to misting.

Steve fertilizes them after watering, generally with Campbell’s yellow and a variety of other fertilisers.  Please consult him if you are in any doubt as to what is suitable.

Being an indoor plant means fewer pests.  Things to watch for are mainly mealy bugs and mildew.

The flowers generally grow horizontally but can be staked to have the blooms upright for better showing.

It was very good to have another talk that took mystery out of growing these beautiful and very popular orchids.  If you need to know any extra information on orchids in general Steve is a mine of information to corner.

 A lovely Phalaenopsis.

A lovely Phalaenopsis.


Agenda for November Meeting

Welcome, Apologies, Visitors.

Minutes of August meeting – as printed in newsletter

Business Arising

Committee Report – refer to report.  Several important matters discussed.

Inwards Correspondence

Outwards Correspondence

Finance Report – no report

Sponsors Spot –

Table talk.

General business

  1. Botanica
  2. Workshop

Guest speaker – Brian Newman.

Raffle, popular vote.

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Minutes for October Meeting

Ed welcomed members and visitors Glenys and John Smith.

Apologies: Robert Standing, Brian Newman, Ken & Dulcie, Barbara Pearce, Tom Denison, Tracy Suter, Diane Blay, Ann & Ken Cuzack, Judy Cowling

Minutes of last Meeting were approved as printed in the newsletter.  Mvd. Steve Scd. Don

Business arising    nil.

No Committee Report due to illness of president

Correspondence:  Orchids Australia Magazine Mvd. Kay Scd. Peter that correspondence be received.

Finance:  A few matters were highlighted by Treasurer Bruce Hall. Mvd. Betty Scd. Steve That report be approved.

Sponsors Spot: Mangrove Jacks was highlighted as a delightful place for a coffee or a meal.

Table Talk: Ivy Wheeler spoke about the plants on display, and why the judges chose the plants they did.

General Business:

  • Check out catalogue online to pre-order for visit to Easy Orchids at Woodburn on Saturday 29th October.  Meeting at the Information centre in Coffs Harbour for car pooling at 9:30am.
  • Botanica:  Botanic gardens open day 6th November 2011– volunteers for the day to help with queries and also help with the plant sales. Plants needed for display and sales table.  (Sales plants to be in bud or flowering).
  • AGM: 3rd November.  Nomination forms are on the website or contact Don Turner.
  • Orchid Workshop:   At Gordon Clarke’s Woolgoolga, also on 6th November at 9.30. 

Popular Vote:

Peter Baker – Indian Dendrobium

Raffle: Jason, Don & Gloria (these plants to be collected at the next meeting.

 Popular vote at the October meeting.

Popular vote at the October meeting.


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PO BOX 801, Coffs Harbour NSW 2450

Ph: 02 6650 9578 | 0418 519908
Ed Pearce (President)

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