Orchids aren’t awkward…come and meet them - The Community Leader and Real Estate New and Views

Photos: Supplied.


Many gardeners avoid orchids because they see them as exotic, demanding and expensive. According to the treasurer of the Redland Orchid Society, Bruce Prebble, nothing could be further from the truth.

“Any hobby can be as expensive as you make it; you can pay a thousand dollars for an orchid or pick up an Australian beauty for twenty dollars; they’ll both give you the same amount of pleasure.”

The society promotes orchid growing and has an active “citizen science” role of researching, photographing and cataloguing local species. Bruce, who is one of the organisers of the society’s biannual charity fundraising shows, has been in love with orchids since his youth; a passion he may have inherited.

“I used to work in the Cape York Aurukun community and I remember the first time I saw native orchids growing wild in trees; they just took my breath away,” he says. “I later discovered that my grandparents were passionate orchid growers and I share their love of this very special flower.”

For many of us, our first encounter with orchids was the showy catalea, the corsage presented by a hopeful beau to his date for a dance. As wonderful as they are, the world of orchids has many others less flamboyant but just as lovely.

“Orchids are captivating by their beauty and their complexity and by the way they’ve adapted to microclimates and specific pollinators – like the Madagascar orchid that can be pollinated only by a nocturnal moth with an exceptionally long proboscis,” he says. “Growers can hybridise them but there are many naturally occurring hybrids – forty to fifty thousand – including our Queensland emblem, the Cape York dendrobium.”

Bruce says that much of the public perception of orchids as difficult “prima donnas” comes from lack of knowledge.

“Many first-timers treat orchids like other flowers; they plant them in soil and water them frequently – that can kill them with over-love. If you have them in a greenhouse and they don’t like it they may need just a different place in the greenhouse or if they want rainforest conditions, if you grow them in the open with occasional water they’ll find their own way. Growing orchids isn’t daunting – after a while it becomes second nature.”

Folk wanting to learn more about the secret life of orchids can learn from fellow enthusiasts in the Redlands Orchid Society, which will be holding its annual Spring Charity Show on Saturday October 7 at the Redlands Multi-Sports Club, Judy Holt Park, Randall and Bailey Roads, Birkdale. The show, which raises money for the Redlands Hospital Auxiliary, will run from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm and features orchid displays and sales – and potting demonstrations, for those of us who are still tempted to cram them into soil.

More information is available at https://www.redlandsorchidsociety.org/.

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