Green Flowers

I don't often see green flowered orchids at the farmers market but I did today and two spectacular ones at that. Dendrobium Callophyllum on the right is a native of Java, Lesser Sunda Islands and the Moluccas. Hallelujah it likes  sun and I have just the spot for it. I will be moving it out of its pot (growing on charcoal) to attach to a branch to hang on the Dark Verandah. Most of the epiphytes I have, similarly set up are clustered around the shady bits so its great to have this filling one of the sunnier gaps. And fill nicely it will as it has 5 or 6 fairly lanky arched leaf stems.

Dendrobium Ionopus on the left requires medium light so will join the crowd huddled under the shadier spot, perhaps further up front. It will stand out though with its unusual pendulum blooms and spidery foliage. The flowers hang off rigid stem like lanterns on a stick. Where the Callophylum is a fairly bright green, this one is pale , tending to yellow. This orchid is endemic to Phillippines.

I have other green orchids, one is a Coelogyne (a gift) and the other is an unidentified one that I bought. Both were blooming when I acquired them but haven't done so since which is an admission of a huge problem that I have with orchids - I haven't really got the hang of them yet. In a sense they are somewhat high maintenance with their watering needs and their fairly specific sunlight requirements. These sunlight requirements include a nuanced understanding about the difference between bright light and light sun and early morning or late evening sun. Lets just say I'm still learning. It helps when the vendor can give me some directions or at least a name for me to look up its needs. and this is just to keep them alive, I've yet to master whatever feeding or other requirements they need to reflower.

For this reason, these two were priced just right. I see many gorgeous orchids at the market and they are not inexpensive. I've murdered enough of them to resist the temptation to splurge. These were affordable to buy both but also costly enough for me to pay attention to them as I have lost many an orchid, in that early stage when its situation hasn't really been fully understood yet. Additionally, there are a few other factors like storms and squirrels that lead to  discovery of a dead, dried out, or rotted that has fallen in between the pots underneath it.

Ultimately, it will be about finding a balance between getting the conditions and situation right and enough care without it being a burden. Its certainly worth pursuing though as even this narrower range that interests me - wild orchids of this region, has beautiful specimens of extraordinary shapes colors and scents that send out their siren call everytime I go to the market.

False Rue

As I often complain, I'm in ownership of a quite a few plants that remain unidentified as that's how plants are sold here- without any kind of label. Occasionally the seller might be knowledgeable enough to identify the plant- sometimes it even helps just to know the local name. Otherwise its a google search that might take a while to track down. Let me just say though, it is astonishing what google can do with a few keywords.

I now also have about three textbooks written by local authors and make it a morning habit to flip through them, cup of coffee in hand. This is the other method that occasionally yields a good result when I make the connection between a photo in the book and something I just bought. Its amazing what slips through though as I discover something only on the 20th reading.

And then there's the more random situation where you are looking for something else on the internet and you identify something quite different altogether. That's how I discovered False Rue, Baeckea frutescens. I was looking for information about 'tropical pines' and there it was - an image of its slender branches of pine like needles that droop in downward elegant curves. All the vendor could tell me when I bought it is that it is very slow growing.

Its not a Pine but in the Myrtle family, and while 70 of the 75 species are endemic to Australia, this one is native to South East Asia. Turns out, it also has a host of medicinal qualities and I write this while enjoying a very pleasant scented herbal tea made from it. I can't help thinking of it as the kind of 'comforting beverage doubling as medicine' that those Septagenarians on the Greek Island of Ikaria are nourishing themselves with. In fact its whole vibe is mediterranean both woody and herbal not unlike something growing wild in Greece or Spain you might run into on a hike. It enjoys similar conditions here, the poor soils of rocky hill slopes and sandy coasts.

The branches' arched lines and interesting shades of color - quite limey when the growth is new, make it a regular choice of foliage for a friend who practises Ikebana and has a larger more mature specimen growing in her garden in full sun. So thats where I put mine, in the White Corner where its hot and sunny, and its doing just fine.

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