Monthly Features > Chinese New Year at May's

Chinese New Year at May's

It is a hot humid morning as dad and I are trying to figure out which house is May's, we have been there before but all these houses look the same and somebody forgot to bring the invite. Finally, other orchid people arrive and I jump out of the car and follow them up the drive. As I come round the back, I am greeted by the myriad of happy faces and hellos. Soon after May brings the meeting to a formal beginning as we kick off with Bob.

Bob's topic in holding with the Chinese New Year is Chinese Dendrobiums. With species like aduncum and fimbriatum, we learn about their various flower colours and forms, as well as how the altitude at which various plants grow in nature relates to their temperature requirements. One species, which Bob suggests, is Dendrobium nobile a very adaptable species that can grow in all temperature ranges and is widely available in Sydney as many growers attest to, however he points out that a dry rest in winter as well as high light during winter are essentials for good growth.


Next Jan talked about Chinese or was that Buddha Paphiopedilums, giving a brief discussion on Paph. Lynleigh Koopowitz, she stated that she grew her plant in a cool glasshouse in a fair amount of shade watered regularly and while the flowers do not last as long as other paphs its sequential nature means that it flowers over a long period. For those who didn't catch it the parents of Lynleigh Koopowitz are Paph. malipoense and Paph. delenatii, which makes it a primary hybrid.

Coelogyne flaccida was chosen by Mike as another topic of discussion he also suggested this as a beginner's orchid, which was one of the most common in Sydney, and was easily grown and flowered as long as you kept the water up to it in summer, potentially having it in a dish of water during the height of summer.


Last to speak was Murray who spoke on the Chinese cymbidiums. These plants have quite a dainty appearance and are quite rare in Australia. An interesting point made by Murray was that the plants are judged more for their unique characteristics like scent, foliage and so called oddness rather than the traditional colour and shape of other orchids. This provided an insight into a new way to look at our orchids, which while novel, is very valuable.

Then the repotting began with members plants plucked and prodded to find their various ailments. May tells me to go and help and as I walk up to the bench I am presented with a cymbidium myself and another much more experienced grower give the following advice. 1. That dead leaves and sheaths are removed not only to give the plant a tidy up but also to prevent the build up of bugs, which often live hiding inside these areas. Two that a soft toothbrush or cotton tip dipped in methylated spirits or pest oil are used to remove build-ups of scale and mealy bug on the bulbs and leaves. 3. That the plant needs to be kept moist and not wet with watering once a week insufficient during the hot weather. This proved valuable to those involved as both teachers and students and much was learnt by all.


Now for lunch and with all the food brought a feast was laid on and no need to call dig in as the masses swarmed for the food. I myself head straight for May's famous pork and chicken wings. As the chatting sets in and I catch up on some of the current happenings within the club I look back on a very successful day not only have I learnt a few more names but a few more tips to take home to my orchids.

I thank May, Jan, Bob, Mike, Murray and anyone else responsible for the success of this day as it most enjoyable and I believe a great day was had by all.

Dan Coulton