Saturday, December 18, 2010

Orchid stars ... and some extras

My orchids are the superstars in my garden right now. Never mind that the nights have become decidedly chill ... by Mumbai standards, that is. My orchid divas are still dazzling me and showing that they still have what it takes. Oh yeah!

And the older they are, the more flamboyant they get. Like this Dendrobium orchid which has been with me for 10 years or more. Definitely long in the cane, but have you seen such long spikes of spectacular blooms on any fresh young things?

This one got dislocated from the coconut tree where it had been living when a heavy coconut leaf lopped it off. So it was hastily tied on to this cashew tree because it was bursting with buds due to bloom any day. And I definitely did not want to miss out on that!
My usual banana fibre ties were too flimsy so some coir ropes were brought in to help out. That still left something wanting. These lo-o-ong canes were too big for their own good. So, finally they had to be propped up with a slab of rock.
Oh the ignominny!
I definitely have to do something before this diva starts sulking.

Did I say something about 'fresh young things'? This would be one of them. Fresh-faced, pure as a ... well, a white orchid, and so very pretty!

I can't think of any space, no matter how ugly, that hasn't taken a step into the sublime just because of its association with an orchid. Like these iron spikes over a fence. No one notices those because they're too busy being dazzled by the orchid. Now that's called star quality!

If you thought all Dendrobiums looked alike, then take a look at this one. The colour's familiar but if it looks all twisted out of shape, then you've got an antler-type dendrobium orchid. I guess this would be a perfect match for all those wildlife buffs out there. But honestly, doesn't it look a bit like an avenging angel?
Just a bit?

If you thought the dendrobiums are the only ones out there, then you haven't seen my friend, Spathaglottis. One of the most common orchids grown in Mumbai, I think novice orchidists are comforted by its terrestrial preferences. After all, growing a plant which doesn't need soil can seem so unusual . And confusing.
The Spathaglottis, though, thrives in that medium unlike the Dendrobium, Phalaenopsis, Cattleya and others of that ilk.

But commonplace they are not. The Spathaglottis still knows how to spring a surprise. Its multiple hues, if not its ease of cultivation, are enticement enough to make the gardener go back to it again and again.

Yet if you're going by the variety of colours, there could be no one to beat the Phalaenopsis orchids for sheer drama. Purity of shape and theatrical in colour ...

... spotted, speckled, striped and in blocks of colour, the Phalaenopsis is the drama queen par excellence!

Yet every good show must have its villain

and the faithful friend. So too does our orchid.

And like every good Indian film, we just can't do without our glamourous Dancing Girls. Jai ho!


  1. Beautiful. Nice way to end the year, amidst the beautiful orchids. Thanks for sharing. Wishing you and your loved ones and the doggies a great 2011.

  2. Sunita I can not imagine a garden filled with these beauties !
    they of course would never survive our winters but I can dream of them, right ? Yours are so beautiful : )
    I have a brown thumb with them .. brought one home a few years ago .. well .. better left unsaid that the poor thing gave up on me ? LOL

  3. Wow! What a collection! And you have dendrobium in your garden. Aren't these very rare?

    I fell in love with dendrobium when I first came across this collection from You will be mesmerized by the varities

    Sunita, where did you procure the dendrobiums from? Are they available in some nurseries in India? I asked few places in Bangalore in vein.

  4. Thanks, Pooja :)

    Mridula, so good to see you here again!

    Thank you, Lubna, especially for those very nice wishes.

  5. Joy, maybe you could try again? I know for a fact that there are several orchids which thrive in colder climates (I know because I've sighed over them and wondered whether they'd grow in my fridge!).
    Try cymbidiums and slipper orchids and keep them indoors in winter.

  6. Prashanth, the Phalaenopsis-type Dendrobium is not so rare but our suppliers leave a lot to be desired. Usually the bigger nurseries stock the Dendrobium Sonia or Dendrobium Erasakul which is used by all the florists as cut-flowers. Maybe you could check at Indam?

  7. WOW!!! Those orchids are amazing! I would have to travel to a greenhouse to see so many gorgeous orchids in one place! You are really lucky!

  8. Thanks, TS :)
    Now here's a secret ... with all those tropical plants I can grow, guess what I yearn for? To grow cool-climate plants! So I think you are very lucky.

  9. Such beautiful orchids! Love all of them.

  10. Love love love Orchids!! Lovely pics Sunita. Thanks for sharing :)
    I prided myself on not envying others... but I must admit, I truly envy you now :) All these beauties growing in your garden!!

  11. Beautiful!!

    Orchids are such beauties, aren't they?

    So your stars are ready for Christmas?
    A very Merry Christams to you and all at home!

  12. Oh, my goodness! Can I come live with you??? :D I am the biggest orchid fan and the thought of watching them bloom outdoors is just amazing to me!

    Happy Holidays!

  13. Thanks, Aaron :)
    I really enjoy them too.

  14. So maybe you could try growing one too, Priya? Go on... if you like them so much, you owe it to yourself!

    Absolutely, Bindu! Yeah, I think they've got great timing, don't you?
    Merry Christmas to you too, Bindu, and I hope you have an especially nice new year coming up.

  15. Kate ... can we swap homes and gardens? Pleeeease? I'm so in love with your poinsettias and cyclamen and ... I love cold-preferring plants.

  16. Ah Orchids at Christmas time! How beautiful....

    Merry Christmas to you...

  17. Sunita---such happy plants.....

    You're a magician, woman!

  18. Skeeter, I think they're my Christmas gift :)
    They rarely bloom so late once the 'cold' weather sets in.

    I think this is their way of showing the crows. The nasty birds have been pulling the potted ones out of their pots and leaving them lying around. I guess the tree-bound ones are blooming extra hard to make sure I keep them safe. As if I wouldn't!

  19. Stunning Sunita Just Stunning! WOW your orchids are beeeautiful. Just stopping by to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a Peaceful and Healthy 2011. Hugs to you my friend.

  20. sunita the pictures of the orchids are positively glamorous!

  21. Hi Sunita your blog is great and your photos are stunning. I must have spent almost an hour just now looking through them. Thank you for your efforts. I look forward to seeing many more in 2011

  22. Such beautiful orchids. Just back from my Singapore trip and was overwhelmed with the variety of Orchids there. Good to know that you are growing them in India too. Would love to get some tips on growing them here.


  23. Hi Sunita, the orchids are fabulous.Like you said the divas in the garden and they get better and better every year. They are such rewarding plants when they can be grown in the right spot. You have got many different ones and they all look so well groomed like coming straight from the beauty salon!

  24. Merry Christmas, everyone! Sorry I wasn't online for a few days. Just took off for a few days.

    Thanks, Helen! :)
    Here's wishing a wonderful profusion of new blooms and plants in your garden with the older ones getting ever better in 2011.

  25. I know, Arati! Thats why I associate them with superstars :)

    Hey, thanks Mathew. Glad you liked my blog. I hope we see you here often now. And yes, I'll definitely be blogging more often in 2011.

    Thanks, Shilpa :)

  26. Natti, the orchids in Singapore leave me absolutely awestruck! By the way, did you read my post "Orchid welcomes and farewells" ( )? That was inspired by the orchids at Changi airport.
    And yes, you can always contact me for tips about growing orchids.

  27. Thank you, Trudi. I really envy you because you live in the home of dendrobiums. They must grow so beautifully for you!
    My poor orchids do get more haircuts than they bargain for when falling coconut leaves chop off canes :P
    Still they do seem to enjoy growing there more than anything.

  28. Incredible orchids! My husband and I are off to Hawaii next week and looking forward to seeing some tropical plants after having snow here on Christmas!

    Happy New Year!

  29. Oooh! Lovely! I envy you your tryst with Hawaii's beautiful gardens. I know we're tropical too but somehow those plants look so pretty. Have fun!

  30. It's Really Wonderfull, I Like It

  31. These are all so stunning, and gorgeous photographs :)

  32. Sunita dear,

    This huuuuuuuge blogging world led me astray. I could NOT remember the name of your blog. It is on my blog list (since I'm a follower), but it didn't do me much good, did it?

    I love this post and LOVE the garden creatures posting. Wonderful. Dragonflies, damselflies, all the things that make life so exciting.

    Sending love from California,

    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

  33. Thanks, Denesh :)

    Absolutely, Magic of Spice! Its almost impossible to find an orchid that doesn't look like its been groomed and pampered to with a mm of its life.

  34. That's perfectly understandable, Sharon! :)
    Frankly I can't figure out how you do all the myriad things you do ... garden, write blogs, write books, etc., etc. and still find time to keep in touch with your blogger friends! So glad you liked these posts. And you're absolutely right, all those little creatures make the garden so much more interesting... especially when they're busy at work, eating all the pests! ;D

  35. Lovely post and so are your orchids! I love orchids too but mine are doing sweet nothing for now:(

  36. Your orchids are definitely a star; and so are you! Congrats! I read your blog being mentioned in an article on urban gardening in Times of India yesterday. It was a pleasure to find someone, you are e-acquainted with, mentioned in a national daily...way to go, dear Sunita.

  37. Wonderful!
    Coming here after a long time. :)

  38. Hi Keats! Which orchids do you grow? Maybe this is just a slow time for them. I've found that growing a variety of orchids means that at least one or the other is always in bloom :)

  39. GT, I thought that article was only in the Mumbai edition so I'm a bit surprised that you got to read it. But I'm so happy that more people are waking up to the possibilities of urban gardening :)

  40. Hi Bindhu! So good to see you here again :)

  41. Mumbai - Last place on earth to imagine for such a beautiful orchid garden. Wooow U got orchid fingers. Lovely. Recently I visited an Orchid garden in Hawai'i but my vote definetely goes to yuor's :-).

  42. Hey thanks, Shanthi. You've just made my day!
    But seriously, it has to be the best kept secret that orchids grow beautifully in Mumbai. So long as they're not pampered to death, that is! Give them some healthy neglect, keep them outdoors and watch them take off.

  43. What a thrill to grow these stunning orchids in the garden, Sunita! The Spathaglottis really captured my heart :)

  44. What a feast for eyes that have seen nothing but browns and whites this interminably long winter!

  45. Hmmm.... somewhere Blogger has slipped up and not published my reply to you, Joey. sorry!
    I love the Spathaglottis too, Joey. If for nothing else but its ease of growing :)

    I'm sure I'll be yearning for some of those whites in a couple of months, Kamini. Till then, go ahead and share my orchid banquet :)


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