Friday, 30 December 2011

Mostly orchids

More from my Christmas visit to my brother Tony's garden near Ballina in northern New South Wales.  There was so much to photograph, I guess it's no wonder my camera battery ran flat after a day and a half. 

The two flowers below are both Heliconias. He doesn't have any trouble growing them -- the extra rain and rich soil make all the difference -- but I am on the point of giving up here. I love their exotic good looks and have healthy plants of both these varieties, but no flowers after several years. Unfortunately, the only one of mine that has flowered was Heliconia augusta 'Red Christmas', which eventually vanished after featuring on the dogs' racing circuit for a time. 

Heliconia rostrata

Blood lily Scadoxus multiflorus ssp. Katherinae (prev Haemanthus)

Tony said this was called an Octopus palm after the unusual inflorescence. (The orchid plant in the bottom left corner has finished flowering but is one of his favourites, the Sydney Rock Orchid Dendrobium speciousum.)

This must be an Oncidium orchid. This is just a side cluster of flowers from a long spray. The flowers are like a bigger version of my yellow 'Dancing Lady'.

I am not sure of the name of this orchid beauty. It looks a little like a bulb at first, with long strappy leaves , a long stem, and the tightly bunched buds.

Most of the orchids flower in Spring, and Tony's particular, though certainly not exclusive, interest lies in Australian native orchids. Many are modest and unassuming when not in flower and often blend in with their surroundings (except for the giveaway pantyhose securing larger varieties: I had a polka dot pair around the rock orchid in my poinciana!) 

Even after the end of the main flowering season, it's always worth keeping an eye out for a dainty native orchid affixed to a sandstone monolith,

This has an almost identical flower to the Tick Orchid I shared in an earlier posting.

or an exotic relation at the base of a tree,

or high in its branches.

Regardless of scale and country of origin, the flowers are always spectacular. And I think that next Spring, I will definitely time a visit to capture more of the orchids in bloom.


  1. Dear Marisa, glad you showed this marvelous garden. You are right about planting what suits the garden. The soil quality, rain etc. plays such a important role in the subtropics. I saw some familiar plants too. It is such a pleasure to go around in the garden and look for all the treasures up or down the trees! I planted many years ago a garden along the Clarence river, between Grafton and Maclean, it was such fertile soil; the lettuces were huge and the avocado trees grew rapidly; I have nowhere experienced this sort of alluvial soil anymore. The hazard for the garden was the occurring floods from time to time! I wish you a very happy New Year and also good gardening. T♥

  2. These are just gorgeous. To me, orchids are mysterious houseplants that always die. These are amazing, and to have an entire garden filled with these lovelies must be like having an exotic wonderland. Just beautiful.

  3. I just spoiled myself and picked up a lovely Oncidium, similar maroony colouring to my brother's, so I'm looking forward to seeing how that does. I had bequeathed him a number of orchids I had previously, and mostly just kept super easy dendrobiums here, but I ready for another shot. Wait till you see the ones I got - only $14 each at Big W! I will post soon.

  4. Hmm..what is it in Brisbane that makes these heliconias hard to flower? I know rostrata (the second one) grows like a weed here and flowers great. I would have thought that it would be same up there.

    1. Sorry I have been very slow in responding Adam. I have had recent flowers on one I don't know the name of and on 'Red Holiday', but nothing ever on my H. rostrata which as you suggested should be one of the easiest to flower here. I live in hope.



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