Sometimes a garden just hits you. Sometimes you walk into a garden so fabulous, your jaw hangs open for a period of minutes while you take in its glory. This feeling first happened to me at Ryan Gainey’s Atlanta home walking around his cottage garden and it happened to me again over the weekend at the greenhouse on the Anne Springs Close Greenway property just outside of Charlotte, NC.
Every corner of the greenhouse was as full as it could be with greenery, pots and plants. A lime tree, variegated bougainvillea, orchids, hibiscus, the list goes on. And the size of the fiddle leaf fig tree just blows your mind, doesn’t it?
The greenhouse of my dreams has shelves just like this – the perfect size for terra cotta pots en masse. I couldn’t get enough.
I spotted this Starfish Flower Cactus (Stapelia grandiflora ) from all the way across the room. I have never seen anything like the star-shaped flower that blooms at the tips of these branches. It’s quite a sight, especially with at least a half a dozen blooms right behind the first large flower.
Orchids galore… Here are a few tips on growing your own.
And a little treat tucked far in the back near the wall, a baby pineapple sprouting up!
All photos by Whitney of The Curtis Casa
During a recent trip to the Charlotte area, I visited Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden for the first time. I was greatly impressed by the garden’s plan and structure. It’s a relatively young public garden, first opening in 1999. The master plan includes additional gardens, so it will just get better and better. And although the plants are still “teenagers”, the garden looks full and lush, with an amazing variety of greenery and color. As you can see below, the garden includes everything from Abelia to Zenobia!
Roses may be the traditional flower of choice for Valentine’s Day, but from what I’ve seen at local flower shops, grocery stores, and big box stores, orchids are definitely gaining ground. Moth orchids (Phalaenopsis spp. and Doritaenopsis spp.) are the most widely available types, partly because they are relatively easy to grow, and partly because they last a long time.
Choices within moth orchids are expanding. Mini-moth orchids, such as those pictured at left grow only about 1 foot tall, so they’re ideal for decorating smaller spaces in the home. And with the smaller size comes a smaller price tag, making them an elegant but affordable extravagance.
If orchids are on your Valentine’s gift radar screen, perhaps you’d be interested in a heart-shape moth orchid. This requires an orchid with 2 blooming stems. While the flower stalks are young and pliable, the grower bends them into a heart shape with the help of a pliable stake and orchid clips. The deep purple example, below, demonstrates the technique. Another dramatic orchid display comes from cascade types. These full-size phalaenopsis orchids are trained to tumble and flow in a stream of color sure to delight your sweetie.
Last week I had what felt like the opportunity of a lifetime: I traveled to South Florida to attend the Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition and check out Costa Farms, one of the leading growers of houseplants in North America.
The folks at Costa were great hosts and I had the opportunity to see a lot of really amazing things. One of the best was their new state-of-the-art orchid greenhouse, which they use to produce and send out more than three million orchids every year. I spent more than an hour in the greenhouse and could easily have spent several more looking at all the varieties!
Here’s a glimpse of what I experienced. It’s really amazing seeing this many Phalaenopsis orchids in one place!
Those friends who follow me on Facebook may remember that last week I managed a photo shoot featuring orchids for an upcoming Better Homes and Gardens book on orchid gardening.
Sorry–you’ll have to wait a full year from now to see the finished product. But if you’re looking for gardening books for Christmas gifts this year for your gardening friends (or yourself!) check out our 2010 crop of titles, published in conjunction with John Wiley & Sons. This year’s titles are: BHG Perennial Gardening, BHG Vegetable, Fruit & Herb Gardening, BHG Rose Gardening, Dream Gardens Across America, and BHG Ask the Garden Doctor. All retail for $19.95, and are on sale through the Wiley website. As of next week, they should be available in bookstores as well.
I thought that you might like to get a sneak peak at some of the shots we took during the orchid photo shoot. We shot blooming orchids in most rooms of the house, demonstrating how easily they can create a spectacular display almost anywhere. Orchids bloom for months at a time, and require little care. Moth orchids, such as the I-Hsin Sesame at left, are widely available, and some of the easiest to grow. (Most moth orchids are in the genus Phalaenopsis, but many also have Doritis parentage, and may be listed as Doritaenopsis.) Here are a couple more moth orchid shots, taken in the living room.
Vanda orchids are more difficult to grow indoors because they need a lot of heat and humidity. But they make a gorgeous display if you have the right conditions. This one is hanging in front of a stained glass window in a bedroom.
We also took many “how-to” shots for the book. Here’s one in a step-by-step series on how to repot a vanda orchid.
We’ll be shooting hundreds more photos before this book project is done. I find that working with orchids is a great way to beat the winter doldrums and brighten up the holiday decor.
In his last post, my boss Doug Jimerson mentioned how he saw pussy willows as a sign of spring coming. Outside my home landscape is still pretty bleak and cold (the wind chill was -21F when I went to work this morning), but inside I’m happy to also be seeing signs of spring.
I became hooked on orchids a couple of years ago, and now a table in my back porch houses a collection of about 30 or so different varieties of easy-to-grow moth orchids (Phalaenopsis). For me, most of these beauties bloom once a year and that’s in early spring. The plants are just starting to send up spikes now, so I know the spring season really must be right around the corner.
When my moth orchids begin showing off their lovely blooms, it’s a cue that I can start fertilizing my other houseplants again after their winter rest. I always start out slow, giving them about 1/4 the recommended dose for a month or so.
If you’re a cold-climate gardener like me, are you seeing signs of spring? If you’re a warm-climate gardener, what’s blooming in your yard now? Share by commenting below!