Monday, April 23, 2007

The Greater New York Orchid Society Show comes to town!

The GNYOS show is an event eagerly looked forward to by many in the New York City area. Vendors come from all over the nation, indeed many come from other nations, to set up displays and/or sell their wares. Last year the exhibit area was in the ice skating rink at Rockerfeller Center in mid Manhattan, this year the society had to make due with some rather narrow tents on the plaza itself. Still, despite the crowds, the displays were as always magnificent. The vendors were downstairs in the building right behind the display area, grouped into three areas. The orchids they were selling were a show in themselves. I offered my high school students in Chappaqua extra credit to go to the show and write a report with pictures, and many of them showed up. Several left with orchids in tow, who knows, another orchid addict or two may be in the making!
I once again swore to restrain myself when it came to purchases, and when I went to the preview for members on Wednesday, all was fine. I purchased five very nice cattleya type plants from a Hawaiian vendor for 10 dollars each, they are nearly blooming sized. I also got four somewhat more oddball types from another vendor, things like pleurothallis and platystele. I brought the Platystele stenostachya into school to show my students and explained that this plant, with its minute flowers, is an excellent example of an orchid geek's type of plant.
I went back with my wife on the last day, Sunday, and caught the sale at the end of the show. Some of the vendors, mainly from far away locals, sell off their remaining stock for better prices then, but you have to be willing to bargain in many cases. The upside is that many plants can be gotten quite cheaply, the downsides are that some of the most choice plants are already gone, the plants may have damaged/rotten roots from being packed in moist sphagnum or taped up for a week plus, so you need to be prepared to work to get them to regrow roots, and by then the plants are stressed in general. Its also too easy to go a little nuts, as we did, and end up getting over 300 dollars worth of orchids! Also one takes chances one might not normally take with higher priced plants, like picking up a nice Odontoglossum crispum, knowing that it demands cool conditions, which will be difficult to provide in New York during the summertime.
Some other notes about the show include the appearance of the Phrag. kovachii hybrids, they are lovely plants with stunning colors from their kovachii parent. I don't know a lot about them, they are still way out of my price range, as is the species itself, but they sure do look pretty. Its a shame that the species itself is in real difficulty in its native habitat, due to poachers stripping out wild populations. All that it needed for many to enjoy this flower is to have a few seedpods flasked, and indeed this is being done, and the seedlings are beginning to appear for sale. Hopefully P. kovachii won't be completely extinct in the wild before the availability of lots of cultivated seedlings take the pressure off whatever few wild plants remain.
My wife likes the "showy" orchids, the cattleyas are her favorites. The hybrids come in so many sizes and color combinations that its hard to make a choice sometimes. One that we have enjoyed for a couple of years, and which seems unusually easy to bloom indoors for such a big plant, is BLC Burdekin Wonder 'Lake Land'. We got a very large plant at the end of a show 2 years ago at a good price. Upon getting it home, I thought the flowers were kind of small and unremarkable, but I didn't realize at the time that they were the products of a show stressed plant. It has rebloomed several times since, with huge white flowers with yellow in the lip. A few days after they first open, a wonderful fragrance permeates the air until their demise a couple of weeks later. This is my wife's favorite plant by far.

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