Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Cymbidium cyperifolium - Oliver Sparrow replies

It is very widespread, from East Nepal to Viet Nam. It was named by Lindley in1833. It likes shaded semi-terrestrial locations, typically where leaf mouldhas heaped up against tree trunks or rocks. The Himalayas have dense Quercusand Castanopsis woodlands at 1200-1600m (oak and chestnut-ish rough barked,slow growing plants) and this is where it thrives, in patches of sun-litfairly open ground. It flowers late in the year, usually as the cold sets inaround November. Not the loveliest of Cymbidiums, but quite pleasing.
The Chinese prize this and C. ensifolium for abstract reasons to do withpurity and Dao, and some of the rarer cultivars sell for enormous sums. (Bythat I mean in excess of US$1 million, according to Nature a few weeks ago.)
Snake in the glasshouse.As a PS: about a year ago, I noted that I found a 20 cm snake skin in a sealedUK glasshouse when cleaning it out.( Australian commentators asked whether"you could call that a snake?") However, last weekend, when fertilising, alarge (easily 4 cm diameter) body slid from one bark plaque to another. I haveno idea what it is or where it comes from (or indeed, what it eats!) By itsdrab grey scales, it could be a UK grass snake that somehow strayed in, but itis very much on the large (and short) side for that.
The resident frogs (red, foreign, presumably entered in a plant) areapparently undisturbed by it. I am not much bothered by snakes, but it doesslow one down when repotting large plants! Thoughts?
Roots love AstroturfIn the same post, I also mentioned that I had backed an orchid house withAstroturf, into which roots had eagerly grown. This provoked skepticalcomment. I can now tell you that Astroturf is much favoured by Vandas,Trichoglottis, Aerides, Phalaenopsis and pretty much anything with extensiveaerial roots. Coelogyne mayeriana has scrambled up it to hit the roof in ahuge patch. Roots tend to grow in straight lines, following the weave, givingan oddly rectilinear effect. Vanillas like to grow up the outside of rolledAstroturf tubes. However, don't fertilise onto it or you get black A/turf.______________________________
Oliver Sparrow+44 (0)20 7736

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