Orchid News – July 2012

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  • 19 July Peter King – growing Cymbidiums.
  • 2 Aug Plant Auction
  • 7, 8, 9 Sep Spring Show
  • 13 Sep Sep meeting – social meeting.

July Meeting

Peter King will be our guest speaker, and he will be talking about “How to grow Cymbidiums”

Peter and his wife Pat have moved to Coffs Harbour from Sydney a couple of years ago.  They continue to grow their beautiful orchids, and Peter will talk and answer questions about them.


Many people don’t realise that there are many native orchids growing in our area.  At the end of June we organised an easy walk to see a few of these.  We were fortunate that the day was fine and that any water from the rain during the week had drained away in the sandy soil.

One of the small orchids we saw – can you see it?

One of the small orchids we saw – can you see it?

Many thanks to Steve Clemesha for guiding us on this walk.  Steve has an excellent knowledge of Australian plants, and was able to show us several native orchids growing in the Bongil Bongil national park.

Some of our walkers

Some of our walkers

We saw several terrestrial orchids with the common names Bird Orchid, Mosquito Orchid and Green Hood.  These orchids are small but we saw several in flower.  They are so small that we could easily miss them when walking along the path.

Cymbidium madidum growing in the stump of a tree

Cymbidium madidum growing in the stump of a tree

There were also several medium sized and larger Cymbidium madidums growing on the trees.  It would be worth a trip back there later in the year to see these in flower.  Madidums are one of the three Australian native Cymbidiums, and are the easiest to grow.

August Meeting

Our August meeting will be a plant auction.  We planned to hold this auction last year, but illness caused it to be delayed to this year.

The hope is that people will donate a few plants from their collection – perhaps some well-established divisions – and these will be available members.  Members will be able to purchase some plants that are not often available for sale.

If people who are prepared to donate a couple of plants let Ed know before the next newsletter we can publicise the plants that will be available.  Otherwise people can bring plants on the night. This will be an opportunity for members to buy good plants, and the money raised will help the society cover its costs. Members who buy plants can pay by cash or cheque.  IOUs will also be accepted.  There will be some very good plants so save up your money.

We ask that plants will be clearly labelled with the name and the expected colour of the flower.

Committee Report

Our committee meeting was held on the Tuesday after our general meeting.  Matters discussed included

  • Good to see Murray Shergold again
  • Spring Show and need for a better roster
  • Decided to have coffee/tea and biscuits provided when canteen not open at Spring Show
  • Concern about people not putting names on back of slip for monthly competition

Murray Shergold’s Talk

Ansellia Africana  was the topic of Murray’s talk. This talk will be given at the Australian Orchid Conference in Perth later in the year. Speakers at this conference come from all over the world.  Native to Africa they are prolific from the Rift Valley to the Mountains. Sold in Muti markets as a medicine and are readily available. Commonly referred to as the Leopard Orchid and have a citrus perfume. Light flowers are in the mountains of Zululand the darker flowers are sought after by growers. Many modifications are available now. Flower July to November. They related to cymbidiums and react well to fertilizer.

Australia is an ideal climate for growing Ansellia. Can grow up to 1 cubic meter each plant.  Huge. They are often blown down from the trees and can do just as well on the ground. Very adaptable!  Love minimal shade and can thrive in an open garden and for landscaping.  They don’t like frost. Can be crossed with cymbidiums. A very special plant, which can be used as a feature in your garden.

Thanks Murray for a wonderful, passionate talk and great slides. Also Jean and Lucy.

The flower of Ansellia africana

The flower of Ansellia africana

Program for Rest of Year

You might like to note the program for the rest of 2012

19 July             Peter King talking about Cymbidiums

2 Aug               Plant Auction

5 Aug               Workshop at Gordon’s

7, 8, 9 Sep       Spring Show

13 Sep             Social evening

4 Oct                Fitzroy Motors – Seniors and cars

1 Nov               AGM, Ed Pearce – Orchids for real beginners

4 Nov               Workshop at Gordon’s

7 Dec               Christmas break up

Coffs Harbour Nursing Home

The Society was approached to see if we could put on a small display of orchids for the residents of the home.  We were of course happy to do this.

Our table display with Judy Pearce and Bernadette Kane.

Our table display with Judy Pearce and Bernadette Kane.

The nursing home residents were very appreciative of the display and we received a very nice letter of thanks.  Thanks too to Ron Cowling for his assistance.

Spring Show

It is now just 2 months to our Spring Show.  We will be setting up on the evening of 6th September, and the Show will be open to the public from 7th to 9th September.

How are your plants looking?  What will you have in flower?

How can you help?  There will be a roster passed around at the next two meetings for people to fill in when they are available to help.

Rare Orchid

Did anyone see this article in the Age newspaper on June 10th?

As far as plants go, the Audas’ Spider orchid is a sexy organism. But only five are left flowering in the world, all in Victoria, the once-thriving population decimated by rabbits and weeds.

State government cuts had threatened to kill off the species – and 30 other endangered orchids – until a white knight in the Wimmera Catchment Management Authority stepped in last month to save a ground-breaking research program being carried out at Horsham, in the west of the state.

Wimmera Catchment authority chief executive David Brennan said the orchid program had been integrated into its other environmental work after he received ”some concern from the community”.

The orchid seeds and flowers they are cultivating. Photo: Craig Sillitoe

The orchid seeds and flowers they are cultivating. Photo: Craig Sillitoe

The scientist leading the program, Dr Noushka Reiter, will soon begin introducing 3000 Metallic Sun orchids into south-west Victoria to help boost its population of just 30 flowering plants in Victoria and 1000 worldwide.

”This will be the first large-scale reintroduction of an endangered orchid species in Australia,” she said.

The research by Dr Reiter, who had been on the brink of losing her job and program before Mr Brennan intervened, and her team of mostly volunteers could save the species from possible extinction.

Metallic Sun orchid seedlings.

Metallic Sun orchid seedlings.

The reintroduction of the rarer Audas species will not begin until next year.

People tend to think of orchids as tropical parasites that attach themselves to trees and vines, but there are hundreds of terrestrial species that grow in the ground. And their breeding ecology is very complicated.

Each species of flower is pollinated by a particular species of wasp ”via process of sexual deception”, meaning the wasp mistakes the flower for another wasp, Dr Reiter said.

Tawny Spider orchid flower, Thelymitra mackibinii.

Tawny Spider orchid flower, Thelymitra mackibinii.

The seeds, no bigger than flecks of powder, are then scattered by wind and must land on a patch of soil occupied by mycorrhizal fungus, without which the seed cannot germinate. The fungus, which exists in many plant root systems and acts as a kind of chemical processor, is also vital for gathering nutrients from the soil.

To achieve this artificially meant establishing a specialist laboratory where orchid seedlings are created by introducing the tiny seed to the stringy fungi in petri dishes.

”It’s quite an involved and complicated process,” Dr Reiter said.

Sunshine diuris plant.

Sunshine diuris plant.

Prior to the development of this mating technique, only one or two orchids could be bred at a time. Now the lab holds 7000 orchids sitting under filtered light for 16 hours a day, at a constant, balmy 24 degrees. At night, the temperature drops to 16. ”Basically we keep them in perfect spring conditions,” Dr Reiter said.

Each petri dish contains 30 tiny plants, each one a speck of green.

In a greenhouse outside the laboratory at the Department of Primary Industries grain research centre, dozens of pots contain orchids that have grown into a long tongue of green. By spring, hopefully, they will be flowering in the wild.

According to the Indigenous Flora and Fauna Association, which published a feature on the orchid program in a recent newsletter, Dr Reiter was one of 11 Department of Sustainability and Environment biodiversity workers whose contracts were not renewed as part of the state government’s cost-cutting blitz.

A DSE spokesman said: ”The reduction of staff to meet the Victorian government’s Sustainable Government Initiative will be met from a combination of natural attrition, a freeze on recruitment, fixed-term contracts across a range of positions coming to an end and voluntary departure packages. Departments will meet these objectives whilst ensuring skills critical to operational needs are maintained.”

Easy Orchids Gift Certificates

We have some gift certificates from Easy Orchids as their sponsorship for us.  Anyone thinking of buying orchids or supplies from Easy Orchids should see Bruce Hall to buy some certificates.  This then benefits the society.

Agenda for July Meeting

Welcome, Apologies, Visitors, New members.

Minutes of June meeting – as printed in newsletter

Business Arising

Committee Report – refer to newsletter.

Inwards Correspondence

  1. Thanks from Nursing Home
  2. Friends of Gardens re room hire
  3. Bellinger Valley show schedule – 18th August
  4. Tinonee Orchids
  5. 2AIR FM Newsletter
  6. Luke Hartsuyker – calendar
  7. Nambucca show schedule – 30 Aug to 1 Sep.
  8. *Justin re OrchidCultivators.com
  9. *Mark Sullivan – Orchid conservation
  10. *Newsletters – Bankstown, Bellingen, Berowra, Kuringai, AOC conference in Perth.

Outwards Correspondence

Sponsor’s spot

Finance Report – as printed in newsletter

Table talk

General business

  1. Auction
  2. Spring Show

Guest Speaker – Peter King.  Growing Cymbidiums

Raffle, popular vote.

Minutes for June Meeting

Welcome to all members and visitors.

Apologies:  Norm and Kay Mitchell, Anne Dew, Glenys Smith, Jean Wong, Carol Axford, Bob Southwell, Dianne Blay, Carole Davis, Pat King, Ivy Wheeler.

Minutes of May Meeting:  as per Newsletter Moved: John, Seconded: Sue

Business Arising:  nil

Committee report:  in Newsletter

Correspondence in:

Newsletters returned addresses need to be checked.

Correspondence out:  nil.

Please Support our sponsors. Ludo’s Antiques donation of $50

Financial Report: in Newsletter.  Moved:  Don, Seconded:  Betty

General Business:

  • Bush Walk:  30th June 2012 at Bongil Bongil. Looking at native orchids of the area. Approx 3hrs. Beginning 10am at Mylestom/Repton turnoff.
  • Autumn Show discussion at Committee meeting. Successful despite weather. Roster needs to be better organized. Ideas please.

Raffle Winners:  Tom Denison, Don Turner, Doug Binns

Popular Vote:  Bill Bright and Brian Newman

Table Talk:  Bruce and Gary.

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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