In Praise of My Orchidist

You crossword puzzlers know the word for a man who’s excessively fond of his wife is uxorious, right? But what about me, a wife who really digs and is proud of her wonderful husband? Says Oxford dictionary: “the only candidate is the invented word maritorious, from the Latin word for a husband, maritus. But it’s extremely rare: the 20-volume historical Oxford English Dictionary has only two examples, one from 1607 and one from 1978.”

Anyway, that’s me – all maritorious for my husband George, and wanting to boast about his latest accomplishment – getting elected as president of the San Francisco Orchid Society.  In honor of the new Prez, take a look at some of the fantastic orchids he’s been growing.

Epipactis orchid

Stream orchid (Epipactis gigantea) is a California native that George planted near our pond so it gets plenty of water. This is a close-up; I’m always amazed at how complicated the tiny half-inch flowers are.

Thunia orchidFrom tiny to, well, large! This Thunia began blooming a few weeks ago and it’s still going strong. The flowers are each about four inches long, and they dangle from a sturdy bamboo-like stalk that stands more than a foot high. Thunias are from the Himalayas, and they grow quickly.

Dracula orchid

And a stunning Dracula (meaning little dragon) orchid. Dracs like it cool, so they’re well-suited for the micro-climate of our shady front garden. This Dracula chimera is one of the largest Dracs; the top of the flower is a bit larger than an inch and the sepals hang down nearly five inches. George won an Award of Merit in 2011 for one of his Dracula orchids. Click here to read my blog post about it. 

Masdevallia caesia

This dramatic flower is a Masdevallia caesia that George dubbed “Mr Stinky” because, well, use your imagination. It’s pollinated by flies, and a smart little spider settled in this plant last year to catch some.

Want to see more of George’s orchids? Here are a few of my posts:

Euchile Citrina orchid. 

Cymbidiums in the Winter Garden.

Orchids in Autumn. 

George Cultivates Vanilla. 

Are you an orchid lover, or are you lucky enough to be married to one? What’s blooming in your garden right now?

 

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Early Summer Garden

Welcome to June-time in our garden. As the roses fade we have some other wonderful flowers blooming. The stream orchid (Epipactis gigantea) is a California native orchid. Here’s a closeup; the flowers are only about a half inch.

Epipactus gigantea

The flowers of the Soap Plant (Chlorogalum) are also extremely small. Bumble bees love these; I’m always amazed to watch the fat bees light on and weigh down the delicate flowers.

Soap plant flower

A trill from our guard-hen, Maureen, alerted us to a visit by Bambi. He was waiting in our neighbor’s yard for us to leave so he could graze on George’s delicious flowers and plants. Last week he ate nearly every leaf off our poor peach tree. Guess the fruit wasn’t ripe enough for him, he left us those.

Young deer

Anise swallowtail butterflies, probably the ones that we raised and released in the past few months, have returned to lay eggs on our fennel. We caught this one flitting about, and I managed to get a photo of her leaving some eggs.

Anise swallowtail butterfly

Finally, the hummingbirds are back, and happily visiting our flowers and feeders.

Hummingbird

What’s growing in (and who’s visiting) your garden this summer?