Orchid News – April 2012

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  • 5 Apr Orchid Tray company
  • 27-29 Apr Autumn Show.
  • 3 May Steve Clemesha – local native orchids
  • 7 June Murray Shergold – Ansellia africana
  • 5 July Peter King – growing Cymbidiums.

April Meeting

Our next meeting is on 5th April.  Our guest speaker is George Birss from the Orchid Tray Company.  They sell a wide range of orchid growing supplies – pots, sprays, labels, etc. Their website is being redeveloped, but we have included a price list with this newsletter.

The people to contact are Robert Bisetto: 0431 037372 George Birss: 0413 581777

Be aware that they can’t bring everything with them so to be sure you get what you want it is advisable to call or e-mail to order.  There will be a special 10% discount for early orders, i.e. by 28th March. And of course there will be sales at our meeting.

Committee Report

The committee meeting was held at Mangrove Jacks, and the main issues discussed were

  • Thanks to Bruce for the table talk
  • A microphone has been purchased
  • Show – arrangements for show


Annual Membership

Another reminder that annual memberships are due.  The fees are $10 per member, or $15 for a couple.

Brian Lane’s Talk – Botanic Gardens

Brian has been involved with the Botanic Gardens for many years as part of the Friends of the Gardens volunteer team that officially started in 1980.  He has seen great changes in that time.  It is interesting to pick up the various pamphlets giving information on all the 20 hectares Botanic Gardens has to offer.

Pamphlets include:

  • History of the Botanic Gardens
  • Become a Friend/ Volunteering at the Garden
  • Weddings and Special Events
  • Info on sustainable water use
  • Rainforest Walk
  • Nature Trail
  • The Sensory Garden
  • Maps
  • Using the People Mover
  • Visitors guide

And many more….

It is hard to believe that this beautiful site that gives us so much pleasure today was in the early 1900’s the site for the Sanitary Deposit (cesspit) for Coffs Harbour and also  local dump  until 1964 when the dump was moved to Englands road.

When we have heavy rain it still brings brownish black water to the surface that has a reminiscent aroma of its past history.   A lot of care is used when gardening in the dumping area as broken glass continues to surface and cause problems.

The Friends of the Gardens started work even before council turned the sod for the gardens – clearing tons of debris, which included 30 years of bottles, cans, car bodies, unwanted vegetation etc.

The biggest crowd ever to visit the Gardens was for the Freshwater festival which was said to rival all visitors to date.

The Japanese garden proposed by Ian Ford was two years in the planning.  Three gardeners from Japan were invited to map out an authentic plan and took three hours just to pick out and determine the placement for the rocks to go in it.  The stones had to be moved to do work on the garden at one stage but were returned to their exact position.  The teahouse is nearly finished and the Japanese garden itself will be all but complete by the end of 2012.

The Orchid House at the gardens was a general fern house to start with.  It went into a state of neglect for a while but has been slowly improving.  It is also interesting to note that native orchids outside the Orchid House give magnificent displays at their flowering time and very much worth the walk to view.

Many people have made incredibly generous donations of money and time to ensure our Botanic Gardens are maintained and improved and a great debt of thanks is owed to them.

We thank Brian for a very interesting night and wish him many more years of enjoyable involvement as a Friend of a most wonderful centre to our town – the North Coast Regional Botanic Garden at Coffs Harbour.

Brian and Gordon’s Workshop

The March workshop covered health problems with our orchids and general caring for this time of year.

Cattleyas – These orchids can take 4 to 6 years to grow to adult from a flask size.  Community pots are from flasks and it is important not to de-flask before winter, it is better for the plants to have at least two months of autumn weather as you run the risk of losing them in the colder weather before they have had a chance to bed into their new environment.

Separating community pots – Loosen around the pot and gently remove.  Have a basin of warm water handy to place the plant in which will soften the roots to enable untangling more easily.  Find the weakest held roots to remove first and work through until all are separated.  Place each new plant on a damp towel lined tray as it comes loose.  Repot in single pots with new mix.

Bug Problems – When a plant has a weakness insects seem to know and will soon be sucking the life out of your plant.  The back end will drastically die off to try and save the new growth.  Mentholated spirits on leaves on leaves and infected parts every two days till the bugs are gone is one method that works.

Hygiene with potting mix and components is a must.  Soaking any husk or bark well for at least 2-3 days before potting.

When the roots of your orchid go straight to the bottom of the pot and out the bottom vents quickly this indicates, in most cases, a sour acid soil and the plant needs to be cleaned and repotted in fresh mix.  Make sure that the orchids are in a shallow pot as they tend to feel less drowned.  It also enables better ventilation.  Shrivelled leaf bulbs are an indication that the plant may need more than usual feeding.

It can take six weeks for fertilizer to get through to plants so it is advisable to start winter fertilizer before the onset of winter.  Feeding of high nitrogen to Soft Canes should stop on the 1st April.

For a lot of orchids April is the start of low nitrogen fertilization.  This toughens the plants up for the winter.  Epsom Salts (1teaspoon to 5 litres of water) as foliage feed on plants is a very good greening agent.  To get more oxygen into your orchids a mixture of 2ml 50% hydrogen peroxide to 1 Litre of water, this keeps plant roots sterilized and keeps insects at bay.  Usually carried out once a week.  4ml to a 1 Lt for severe problems.  This can be added to fertiliser and fungicide regime.

Asides: When buying an established plant without a flower note if any of the leaf storks show signs of previous flowers.

If not you may never get a flower from that particular plant – they may need a boost or even be attached to rocks or a tree.  If the leaves are limp and deformed it is not a good plant.  Check also that you are aware if a plant has recently been divided before you buy it and are willing to wait for results.  Check out the flowers on the plant you are buying, they should be of bright colour, good shape and texture, have the texture of a thin cardboard not of newspaper.

For something different for keen gardeners it has been discovered if you want an especially high yielding Egg Plant it is said that grafting them onto a tobacco plant will double your crop.

Monthly Display / Competition

A reminder that plants should be benched before 7.15 so that the yellow numbers can be placed by the plants for people to vote for popular plant.  Sherrill will put numbers out at 7.15.

Ron Cowling has the voting slips for popular vote.

He also has slips for members who are benching plants.  Please remember to put your name on the back of the slip when you are benching your plants.

Visiting Orchid Doctor

Several members have taken advantage of this service.  If it is of value to you please see Ed or Sherill.

Slipper orchid displayed at our anniversary dinner last year.

Slipper orchid displayed at our anniversary dinner last year.

Autumn Show

The Autumn Show will be held here at the Botanic Gardens at the end of the month.  We encourage everyone to look at their orchids to see if they have anything in flower that they can enter.

We’ve had a few speakers talking to us about preparing orchids for shows – these talks are reported in our newsletters which can be found on the web site. Copies of our schedule are available from secretary, and it is also available on our website.

Remember too that this year we are broadening the range of orchid plants that we can sell at the sales table.  We are not restricted just to flowering plants, but can also sell mature, well established plants. The sales table coordinator will be authorised to reject plants that don’t meet this standard.

We will be seeking volunteers for the roster at our meeting.  It takes a lot of work to put on a successful show, but if people are prepared to help then it is easier on everyone.


We now have a microphone/P.A. system for speakers to use.

2012 Program

The tentative program for 2012 is

  • Feb         Ray Clements – modern Cattleyas
  • Mar         Brian Lane – the Botanic Gardens
  • Apr         Orchid Tray Company
  • Apr         Autumn Show
  • May        Steve Clemesha – local native orchids
  • June        Murray Shergold  – Ansellia africana
  • June        Walk to see native orchids growing in Coffs.
  • July         Peter King – Cymbidiums
  • Aug         Plant Auction
  • Sep         Spring Show
  • Sep         tba
  • Oct          tba
  • Nov         AGM, tba
  • Dec         Christmas meeting

Agenda for March Meeting

Welcome, Apologies, Visitors, New members.

Minutes of Feb meeting – as printed in newsletter

Business Arising

Committee Report – refer to newsletter.

Inwards Correspondence

  • Tinonee Orchids re Sydney International Orchid Fair.
  • Australian Orchid Foundation re AOF Essay Prize competition

Outwards Correspondence

  • Thanks to sponsors

Finance Report – as printed in newsletter

Table talk

General business

  1. Show

Guest Speaker – Orchid Tray Company.

Raffle, popular vote.

Minutes for March Meeting

APOLOGIES           Eric & Dot Collins, Ken & Dulcie Green/McBain, Di Blay, Pat Wallace, Glenys & John Smith,

MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING      Mvd. Don  Scd. Steve That report be approved



  • Orchid Australia Magazine
  • Alstonville Orchid Society Autumn Show. 11th to 14th April 2012
  • Geebung Gazette
  • BCU pocket calendar
  • Post Box Renewal Invoice
  • North Coast Regional Judging Panel.  Enquiries for judging class participants.
  • Cheque from BCU sponsorship. $150

CORRESPONDENCE OUT                      Nil

FINANCE  Mvd. Ivy Scd. Steve   That report be approved.


  • Orchid Doctor for home visits – Enquiries to Sherill Harrison or Ed Pearce.
  • Orchid Show.  It is important to have all entries benched by 7:30 am on the 27th April 2012.
  • A reminder that volunteers are required for the 3 days of the show.  See Sherill Harrison or ring on 6656 1676 hm. Or mob: 0416 202080.
  • Workshops for Beginners with Gordon Clarke and Brian Newman. Held the 11th March at Gordon Clarke’s – 26 Pullen Street Woolgoolga.  There will be four workshops this year – if you miss any see workshop notes in the following newsletter.

GUEST SPEAKER    Brian Lane – From Friends of the Botanic Gardens.

POPULAR VOTE                    Norm and Kay Mitchell

Contact Us

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PO BOX 801, Coffs Harbour NSW 2450

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

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