At Sixteen

“You need patience to be a good gardener. If you don’t have patience, and you stick with gardening, it will teach you patience.” –Bill Turull Jr. as quoted in “People, Places and Plants” magazine, N.E. / N.Y. Edition, Summer 2005

So true in the case of the Waling-waling orchid in the photograph above. Yesterday, this beautiful Vanda arrived in my garden  from an orchid farm somewhere in Davao, Philippines.  The dealers informed me that the plant stayed in that orchid farm for a long time because it failed to bear any flowers.

Upon closer inspection, I’ve noticed that the plant has sixteen pairs of evergreen strap-shaped leaves. (A pair of leaves represents a year in an orchid’s life.) Moreover, blue-green moss  is visible around the base of the plant and on the roots. I’ve realized that it took 16 years for this hybrid  (Vanda Madame Rattana x Vanda Rung Roeng) to yield its first flowers; and 16 years of toil and anticipation for the botanists to see the beautiful outcome of the hybrid Waling-waling orchid.

And it was worth the wait for the stalk of the plant bears 14 blossoms that could last for six weeks. The flat flowers are quite large, about 4 1/2 inches across. The upper  petals are fairly uniform lavender with heavy blotches of dark red and the lower sepals are dark red.

I find the center of the flower very interesting though. In front angle, it seems that minute old lady is smiling back at me. The rosy column forms the head of the lady while the yellow anther looks like a face with a pair bulging eyes, a nose and a mouth. In addition, the dark red labellum or the lip looks like a skirt.



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