Orchids, or certain varieties of them, do well in the cool, mild, San Francisco climate and my year long stint of living in that city was the only time I ever owned one. It was a gorgeous blue, perhaps this one. It was already in a mossy pot when I bought it and when I placed it in the mossy courtyard in front of the indigo noren that graced the front door of my Potrero cottage, it looked like it had always belonged there.

Here, orchids are native and ubiquitous, I see them everywhere. Our Phalaenopsis are blooming, all three of them. The first one, pictured left, was in bloom when I arrived four months ago, and still going strong. The other two are just sending out flower buds. The orchid on the right, an Oncidium I think, was just outside my room in Pulau Tioman.

There's a gorgeous almost black purple one in the supermarket which I might just have to get one of these days which means I'll have to figure out their strange cultivation. The ones we have at home are growing in a pot full of charcoal and crushed brick. I see them also planted in coconut husks and slatted wooden containers, it's all very odd. I'll be visiting a family member soon who is an avid collector of wild orchids, so I will get the lowdown on this.

In the meantime, I've discovered they make great subjects for floral portraits with their interesting sculptural shapes and rich variety of color.

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