Now that the year is drawing to a close it is good to look back on some of the magical moments of the season. I will start today with my two favourite hardy orchids. They were so exotic and so gorgeous that I felt like having a party for them and introducing them with drum rolls and a trumpet fanfare. In the end I had to content myself with showing them to the Pianist who said vaguely: ‘Very nice dear’. I also showed them to a passer-by who was walking her dog but she wasn’t very interested either. And her dog took advantage of the situation by doing a big poo on the lawn which she pretended not to notice. It serves me right for showing off. But I’m going to show off now. So here they are. (Drum roll.)
I can’t take credit for these two beautiful Cypripediums though. I didn’t grow them myself and lovingly nurture them from infancy. I bought them. They were eye-wateringly expensive but I didn’t buy them both together; that would have been too extravagant. One I bought at the Spring Plant fair at Helmingham Hall. The other came from a nursery in Norfolk. They are notoriously tricky so if I can keep them going then I will feel justified in boasting about them.
These Lady’s Slipper orchids come from Tennessee and require moisture yet sharp drainage.I can never get my head round this oxymoron. If you have sharp drainage then how can it be moist? Apparently Cypripedium reginae needs more moisture than other ‘Cyps’. Both of them need a mulch of composted pine needles- fine I can manage that. Cypripedium kentuckiense grows on river banks and so should have been planted in river sand. Well it’s too late for that now, I’m not going to dig it up and replant it, they have very delicate roots. Besides where on earth would I get river sand? I can see I am going to have endless fun and worry trying to keep these two high-maintenance beauties satisfied. But that’s what gardening’s all about .
If you would like to try growing hardy orchids then a good book on the subject is ‘Growing Hardy Orchids’ by John Tullock.