04 July 2013 By Billy Hawkins
Our Open Day on Saturday had been planned to make use of all the marquees that had been assembled for the party the night before. As it was, the day was sunny and warm and we were able to behave as though it was actually summer – quite a novelty this year!
Alongside the opportunity to see behind the scenes at Alitex with factory tours and design office demonstrations, we also hosted two horticultural talks – one from the worldwide orchid authority that is Jim Durrant from McBeans Orchids and one from Angus White from Architectural Plants.
Jim is an old friend of Alitex (rather than an old friend) and has presented here before. He always has something new to share and is a waterfall of orchid knowledge. Did you know for example that there are twice as many orchids in the world as there are grasses, with 31,000 species? As Jim says, “wherever there is life there’s an orchid”.
A few top tips which, as a gardener, are always great to share:
- Never allow water to collect in the apex of the orchid plant leaf
- Never let your orchid sit in the wet – in nature they grow horizontally
- Orchids are “clever”, and whilst there is evidence of plants showing environmental adaptation, your home is not a perfect environment as there is barely any humidity. Rectify this by putting your orchid pot on a plate of water with hydroleca in which lifts the roots away from the water.
- Orchids do not like strong sunlight
- Hayfever sufferers are safe with orchids – the pollen is sticky
- If your supermarket bought orchid fails, its because you’ve been giving it tap water, rather than rain water and a suitable feed. If kept correctly maybe you will have an orchid which outlives you – it is possible. At Chelsea this year Jim exhibited 3 plants which had been on the nursery for 113 years!
- 94% of orchids have no scent at all
In the early afternoon sunshine, Angus explained to the audience about his passion for cultivating plants and the best methods of keeping them alive. At Architectural Plants they sell many established plants and their care and maintenance is of particular concern. Understanding how things grow has been the key to underpinning “educating”, his customers.
Again we love top tips, so here goes:
- Plant high, not low – in other words keep the potted plant slightly higher than what you are moving it into.
- Ensure that competition for resources stays low around your newly planted trees. The space around the base should almost be weirdly disproportionate.
- A good mulch on top of the plant and around the sides will help it in the first few years
Angus believes in improving upon nature with “creative maintenance”, more of which can be found on their website. http://www.architecturalplants.com/