Wrap Up Your Shopping Early, Then Enjoy the Holidays Yourself
THE HOLIDAY SEASON OFFERS many opportunities to share the joy of orchids with your friends and orchid-growing buddies, and there is no time like the present to let your orchid Santa know what items are at the top of your orchid wish list.
BOOKS Despite this age when seemingly unlimited electronic information is available at our fingertips, books continue to be personally satisfying items for me both to give and receive, and they come in every price range. The best book for an individual will depend on the recipient’s experience and area of interest in the orchid hobby. There are plenty of good recent works available, but among the favorites in my personal library are some vintage volumes that may take a bit of effort to locate and acquire.
A couple of examples are the two volumes of Veitch’s A Manual Of Orchidaceous Plants, written in the latter part of the 19th century, but reprinted a couple of times since. It is a great chronicle of the orchid know-ledge and history at a time when “orchidelirium” was sweeping the horticultural world. I like the charming botanical illustrations it contains, too. It will cost you dearly, if you can find it, but it’s worth it. Another gem is J.A. Fowlie’s The Brazilian Bifoliate Cattleyas and Their Color Varieties. Published in 1977, it is beautifully illustrated with art and photography, mostly in color.
At the other end of the orchid book spectrum, I recommend Duane McDowell’s The Orchid Picture Book, published in 1995. It is a slim paperback consisting primarily of dozens of orchid photographs that are sure to whet the appetite of all but the most jaded of orchid growers. It is a particularly great book for the beginner, because it shows floral variations found within popular hybrid groups and often lists their parentage too, which helps to illustrate breeding lines and the derivation of certain traits. I know of nothing like it for its modest price.
PLANTS AND FLOWERS Living plants and flowers are always popular gifts and orchids are undeniably among the most appreciated. Since it is a season of sharing, healthy divisions of your orchid plants make memorable personal gifts for your orchid pals. If your orchid-friend gift list is long, consider acquiring a compot, repotting the young plants and presenting an interesting species or hybrid to your circle of orchid friends. By planning ahead several months, you will have plants to share with many friends, or even use them as table favors for a party or as stocking stuffers.
Remember that orchids are long-lasting cut flowers. A sprig or two of evergreen foliage can be tucked into an inexpensive bud vase with a beautiful orchid blossom, making a great gift for the hosts of holiday parties. It is surprising how many orchid hobbyists never use their orchids as cut flowers, but you can often remove one or two flowers from an inflorescence and still leave buds or flowers to enjoy on the plant.
ORCHID GADGETS There are many things that are useful to have around most any orchid-growing area that would make thoughtful gifts. Just about every orchid grower can find a spot for another hygrometer or maximum/minimum thermometer. Spray bottles always seem to be needed too.
Spools and lengths of wire and small bamboo stakes are always useful for staking orchid plants and flowers, as are rolls of twist-tie wire. I prefer the twist-tie wire with a paper covering to the plastic-coated variety. You could put together a helpful staking kit with all three items without much expense, and they would make good stocking-stuffers too. It is nice to have some quality pruning shears nearby when you want to cut bamboo stakes, and small wire cutters and pliers are also handy.
Wooden orchid baskets, cork bark or tree fern plaques for mounting orchids would be much appreciated by those who use them. The same can be said for watering wands or mist and spray nozzles.
Another small item that is great to have around is a bag of those plastic water tubes with the pick ends to use for cut orchid flowers. They are useful when you want to take one of your cut orchid flowers to a friend. Look for these in craft supply shops.
CACHEPOTS Most potted orchid plants are not intrinsically beautiful, so when a flowering specimen is ready for display in the home, a cachepot is useful for containing the pot and hiding its tangle of roots. If you are one who likes to have flowering orchids around the house (and who doesn’t?), it is impossible to have too many types and sizes of such containers. They make great gifts, and hunting the perfect one for a particular recipient can be challenging and fun.
The main requirement is that it be large enough to cover the orchid pot without damaging dangling roots, probably an inch or two wider and deeper than the pot it will enclose. It should also be resistant to damage from moisture, if not leak proof. Take along a pot of the size and type you want to cover when you embark on your quest. In most cases, it will be a pot of the standard four- or six-inch size.
Suitable containers for use as cachepots defy categorization. While you will find examples at many nurseries, garden centers and florists, you can also shop at yard sales and flea markets to high-end department stores and florists for unique possibilities.
Baskets are an alternative option and can be lined with a plastic container or sleeve for water pro-tection. Metal and ceramic are popular, too.
Color is an important consideration. If in doubt, it is best to opt for subtle earth tones that will not compete with, but will in fact complement a majority of floral hues.
If you are feeling extravagant, you can present the cachepot with a flowering orchid already ensconced in it. That will guarantee its immediate use and enjoyment.
If none of these ideas appeals to you, and you are one who likes to battle the holiday retail crowds, you may be surprised at the variety of consumer goods being produced with orchid designs. Dishes, playing cards, calendars, linens, umbrellas, shirts, ties and even paper products such as napkins and plates are just a few of the items you can find with orchid motifs. Of course you can save yourself considerable time and hassle by shopping on line for these and other items at American Orchid Society’s Orchid Emporium (www.aos.org), where AOS members receive a 10 percent discount. Remember too that mem-berships to the American Orchid Society or your nearest local orchid society are great gifts for those who do not already have them. Happy Holidays.