Helping out to make a greener earth

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Taiwan's Gems: Phalaenopsis Orchids, Part 4 (Final)

A very close friend who is very much into the horticulture scene in the Philippines and who has been keenly following my posts have asked me why I am posting plants that are grown in other countries as well as gardens  that I see in my travels abroad.

He wondered whether I was stepping out of bounds as far as the intent of my blog is concerned, what with the title, Philippine Gardener.

So, before I complete my series on Taiwan phalaenopsis, let me share what I explained to my concerned friend.  Just in case someone who would read this blog would be similarly inclined as my friend, this is the reasons why one would find posts on plants grown or gardens in countries outside the Philippines (in addition of course to those that are local grown):

1.  Horticulture just like most things nowadays is becoming more and more global.  If gardening in our country is to remain vibrant, it must remain economically viable and that means being able to hold our own as against other countries that are recognized as leaders in world horticulture.

2.  Beauty knows no national boundaries and benefits from diversity.  By always testing the limits, learning from others outside one's comfort zone, integrating new experiences into how one sees the world, one's aesthetic appreciation is deepened.

3.  While others may be lost permanently as they pursue a journey outside of what they were born with, those who are able to integrate the new lessons learned from outside to what they started out with become even more appreciative of their origin.

And please excuse the philosophical ramblings.

So here are the last of the phalaenopsis photographs.  These will focus on two interesting colors:  yellows and reds.

The Yellow Phalaenopsis

Yellows come in the palest to very brightest shade, just like the pinks.  They may range in size from the smallest to slightly bigger than medium size.  

They may also have other color pigments thrown in for interest as in the case of the pink blush that is present in the petals and sepals of this flower, in addition of course to the dark pink lip also called red lip.

Typical medium sized white or pink but this time in yellow

Light yellow color with partly orange lip

Yellow with pink spots and red-lip

Clear, rich yellow-green with dark maroon red and white lip

Yellow base with red spots and pink lips

Yellow with big red spots
Red Phalaenopsis

While there were a number of beautiful reds that I have seen and photographed, unfortunately, only these two turned out well.  This is not to say that these two are not worth much.  On the contrary, both are very beautiful. 

Just like some of the other colors that are still being developed, the flower sizes, shape and color may further be improved.  Also, the number of flowers per spike can stand a lot of improvement especially if this will be compared to the more developed whites and pinks.

Dazzing deep red color

Visually a red but it seems like a yellow with full red spotting to look almost red

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Taiwan Flora Expo 2010, Update on the Philippine Exhibit, Finally Complete

My cousin Jerome who took my place to help the designer's team in executing the Philippine exhibit just arrived early this morning (October 28).  The exhibit has been completed finally and he generously shared the photos he took two days ago.
Jerome with Expo promotions

He, together with the rest of the remaining filipinos working on the exhibit, left Taipei a little past midnight and arrived in Manila just before dawn.  

Tomorrow, a new set of designers would be leaving to work on the indoor exhibit competition.

For now, just enjoy some of the shots of the Philippine Exhibit that Jerome shared with me this morning.

The centerpiece of the exhibit is the bell tower so let us take time to look at it from several angles.

The back of the bell tower as seen inside the exhibit

Front view of the bell tower

The bell tower as you enter the main exhibit entrance

The pictures whose captions are highlighted in green were taken by Enteng, our interpreter who took them October 28.  They were shot a little farther from the subject as compared to the ones with yellow highlighted captions, and thus afforded us a wider view of the individual windows as well as the bell tower.  Hopefully, the addition will increase our appreciation of the work done by the team lead by Baby Spowart, her son Mark, designers Kelvin Manubay, Tony Padilla, CV Lazaro, Tata Montilla, Cyrus, Jerome and myself plus a whole lot of others who worked on the exhibit that the photos captured.
A shot that gives a wider view of the belltower

Entrance to the exhibit

The individual window exhibits were created with slight differences from each other.  The six windows below show a wealth of props that were sourced in Manila. They also feature a number of garden ideas as well as the variations a tropical garden may take.

Underground River, Palawan window

Palawan Underground River window, long shot
Boracay Island window

Boracay window, long shot
Banawe Rice Terraces window

Banawe Rice Terraces window, long shot

Mayon Volcano, Bicol Region window

Mayon Volcano window, long shot

Chocolate Hills, Bohol window

Chocolate Hills window, long shot

Vigan, Ilocos Region window

Vigan window, long shot
Due to quarantine regulations, most of the plant materials were sourced from Taipei, with only the bromeliads flown in from the Philippines.  However, since the weather in Taipei is similar to certain parts of our country, one can expect to see the same plants in most filipino gardens.

This exhibit should help showcase the creativity of filipino garden designers as they create side by side with their counterparts from different parts of the world given the constraints under which they have to work.  

Given the millions of visitors that are expected to visit the expo in the next six months, hopefully, it could create considerable interest in the beauty that our  country can offer so that these visitors would want to personally visit and experience the Philippines.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Taiwan Flora Expo 2010, Update on the Philippine Exhibit

Since I left Taipei two weeks ago, much has already been done towards completion of the Philippine exhibit.  Thanks to photos taken by our very able interpreter, Enteng, I can have a pretty good idea of how the exhibit looks. 

The bell tower has been dressed up almost completely.  The bromeliads have been arranged with the other ornamental plants.  The crew as shown in the picture was in the process of installing the grass even if it was drizzling.  It surely was not the best time to make an outdoor exhibit and I must give it to the crew that they have been making good progress despite the bad weather.

The perimeter of the exhibit will showcase six of the most exciting destinations in the Philippines.  Here, one of the windows shows Boracay.  Ornamental plants are being arranged already along the perimeter line.

The Banaue Rice Terraces in one of the windows.

The photographs were taken October 24, two days away from the original target.  I was told that work has been extended until the 27th due to the inclement weather that has been bugging Taipei for the past few days.  

I am crossing my fingers that they will meet the deadline.  The Expo officially opens on November 4, hopefully with an exhibit that will make filipinos proud.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Taiwan's Gems: Phalaenopsis Orchids, Part 3

Orchid breeders have indeed come a long way.

This is best seen in the case of the fancy colored phalaenopsis. Taiwan is  THE leader in this area at this point in time, something that the US have been quite famous for many years ago.

Below are some photos taken from a few shops selling phals in Taiwan. These are basically red- spotted, pink-spotted or striped ones.

Spotted phals can either have a few dainty spots to so many spots that the color almost look like its solid. The spots can either be pink to red to almost maroon. The flowers can be small to large in size and the patterns of spotting can take so many variations.

Red-spotted phalaenopsis

Below is a good example of solid and dispersed spotting on a single flower,  and on a miniature plant at that!

This is a spotted large-sized bloom.

(Left) The contrast between the white base and the deep red-violet spot have to be seen to be believed.  Though the flowers are only medium-sized and the length of the spike is short compared to most, the color is breathtaking.
 A group of uniformly grown, tissue-cultured red-spotted beauties.

This surely is one of the most attractive spotted phals I have seen so far.  The flowers are huge, beautifully contrasting red and white, good shape, long spike with lots of flowers.  

A plant I would have wanted to bring home, if given the chance.  

This is a good example of progressive breeding where the outstanding traits of two plants are brought together through breeding and hopefully transfer these traits to the offsprings. 

 Obviously a big standard white was crossed with a strongly red-spotted plant and the outcome shows the two characteristics really well.

I was quite surprised with the picture above as the actual plant is very pretty and was one of those that immediately caught my attention given the huge number of plants in bloom.

Unfortunately, it did not register quite well in the photograph.  Just like with humans, I must concede that some flowers are more photogenic than others.

To round up the red spotted phals, here is a medium sized bloom that really photographed well,

Pink-spotted phalaenopsis

The quality of spotting in phals have improved over the years.  The intensity of color, the evenness of distribution have all been better thanks to the dedication of breeders and fanciers.

Unlike the large whites or even the pinks, what may be improved with these types would be the number of flowers per spike as these do not send out as many.  The arrangement of the flowers on the spike may also be improved.  

The main reason for this is the characteristic of the original species from which the colors were derived.  Whereas whites and pinks would have large flowers on long spikes, the yellows and dark reds and lavenders typically have small flowers and few flowers per spike.

This flower is a definite shoo-in for an award in any show.  It has all the qualities of a show winner.  The individual flower is large, more than 3.5" with very thick substance, good color and pleasing shape.

The patience of the growers in nurturing these plants in Taiwan which is easily seen from the quality of the roots, leaves and spike, is amazing.

Serious hobbyist could actually equal such care on a limited basis, with only a handful of plants to look after.

With the volume that Taiwan nurseries produce,  one cannot help but admire that  the quality has not been compromised.  Even while the numbers have gone beyond hundreds to the thousands, one can expect, and see, the same outstanding culture and plant quality.

The striped phalaenopsis

Striped phalaenopsis are formed when the base color of the flower and the veins would have a contrast in color.  The contrast may be in the form of difference in shade (light versus dark) or seemingly two different colors altogether.

There are standard-sized striped phals but the the most interesting to me personally are either the small or the medium sized ones.

One of the best looking I saw during this trip is this medium-sized striped phal.  The contrast is so beautifully distributed and the shape is likewise good.  The spike is also branching resulting to potentially more flowers for each spike.
There are also those with more subtle striping, low key and understated.

Beautiful enough to eat! The pink-orange mix of the color makes these look like flowers in a cake or colored candies shaped like flowers.

So many beautiful flowers, so little time, so small a greenhouse. . . . .

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Taiwan's Gems: Phalaenopsis Orchids, Part 2

The phalaenopsis is called "mariposa" or butterfly orchid in the Philippines.   As a country, the Philippines is home to the most number  of the species of this type of orchid. Most of the species with large flowers are white while those with pink flowers either have mostly small or medium-sized blooms.  Among those with the biggest pink flowers is phalaenopsis schelliriana popularly known as "tiger orchid" in Manila due to the spotted or banded leaves.  Others like phalaenopsis equestris have small flowers.

Due to the persistence of breeders, not only did the flowers become bigger, almost rivaling the large whites in size but the color has also become more intense, called "hot pink" by orchid fanciers.

Taiwan has all shades and sizes - from the biggest flowers with the darkest tone to the smallest with the most delicate shade.

Most of these pink phals started out to be inferior to the large whites in terms of size.  However, the best ones are almost equal to the whites in terms of floriferousness and size.  The picture on the left shows a spike of pink phalaenopsis that other than the color may be mistaken for a large white.

This impressive spike length comes from the age and health of the plant.  The maturity of the plant and the quality of care it has been given will be reflected in the length of the flower spike.

The picture on the right are of spikes from young plants.  By the next flowering, these could very well be as long as the one on the left.

Since these plants are clones, they look exactly alike with the only difference being in the number of flowers in a spike.  Some keen observers and growers note however that with superior culture, the flower quality in terms of size and substance can still improve.

These type of orchids like filtered light and good air circulation. While they like high humidity, they simply could not stand areas with little or no air circulation and will easily succumb to all kinds of diseases.

The species are found on branches and trunks of trees where they are receiving dappled sunlight.  Very few can survive full sun exposure without being burned.

Size difference is easy to perceive but substance has to be assessed mostly by touch to be appreciated. It may take someone with a little bit of knowledge to point out the difference initially but once one gets the hang of it, it becomes quite easy to see the differences.

To the left is a picture of first-time bloomers.  Note the relative shortness of the flower spike with six to eight flowers and buds per spike.  More mature plants like the ones on the right,  will have about ten flowers per spike while those that are older will have 14  or more flowers

The pink phalaenopsis come in different shades.  The clone above is pale/pastel pink and is almost like a debutante, oozing sweetness and innocence.

The one below provides contrast between the dark pink petals and sepals and the white lip and middle portion of the flower. These plants are first bloomers as evidenced by the short spike and fewer flowers.

Here again (right and below) is contrast in another form.
This variety features a pale pink base suffused with a darker pink in the center with the lip showing a distinct yellow for a three way color  combination.

Yet another variant is the pink with splash-like pattern on the petals and sepals making for a most interesting bloom. Both the pictures on the right and below show this pattern contrasting only in terms of the darkness of the pink base color.

All these flowers are first-time bloomers so it would be really beautiful to see these plants flowering at a more mature stage.

Phalaenopsis has emerged as the most cultivated orchid primarily due to its ability to keep its bloom for a long period of time, the ease with which it may be kept indoors in the western home which is cool and dry, and the ease of inducing the plant to flower in the commercial nursery.

Like a lot of orchids, the phals will flower if it experiences a temperature drop between day and evening temperatures.  This condition is easily created in commercial greenhouses which have airconditioning or cooling systems.  Thus this orchid is available all year round.
Miniatures are also very interesting as far as phals are concerned.  From very light to very dark pink shades, from a single display to a grouping of equally beautiful dwarf plants, only one word could properly describe this type of phals:  beautiful!

Above is a mass display of miniature pink phals while below shows plants with blooms that are almost pink lavender in color. Notice the beautifully rounded and branching spikes.

The blushing phals to the right has a very sweet color combination reminiscent of semi-alba (white with red or lavender lip).  The miniature variety makes for a very handy gift or houseplant.  It takes up a very small space and will look perfect in a spot where a normal-sized phals will look cramped.  It may also be mixed with its bigger relative to provide contrast.
The one below is another multi-plant display showcasing a group of very healthy and showy pink phalaenopis. The plants are quite small, but the flowers are already giving a most spectacular show.

And yet another group shot,