Wednesday, December 30, 2009

DC Belle

Monday, December 28, 2009

Samurai Kitty!

Sabine sniffs the air root of a Neofinetia falcata, the “Samurai orchid” or “Japanese wind orchid” from China, Korea, Japan and the Ryukyu Islands. I pronounced Neofinetia in all sorts of interesting ways until I learned its proper pronunciation from Frowine’s Miniature Orchids (Neo-fin-AY-tee-ah). The plant will be much more intriguing in six months, but it’s smart of Bean to check out all of the new ones I bring into the house. The flowers will show off a graceful white spur that curves away from three-lobed lip. This might contribute to the “samurai” name, but Samurai warriors grew the orchid and it stood as a sign of their wealth and respectability. It was difficult to find, so Samurai would demonstrate their bravery and toughness by bringing the plant back to the Japanese royal court.

Linda Fortner (aka “The Orchid Lady”) has a wonderfully informative article about the Neofinetia falcata, including a lot of fascinating material about the naming and classification of the species. This essay also provides a lot of valuable information about its history and care. The plant was first identified in 1728 and first classified into the Western orchid world in 1784. Botanists classified it in a series of different genera over the years, including as an Aerides and an Angracecum, before giving it the generic name Neofinetia (named after 19th century French botanist Achille Finet). Until 1996, falcata was the lone species attached to the genus. E.A. Christenson successfully lobbied for a second Neofinetia species by naming N. richardsiana. Richardsiana is different from falcate because it has a much shorter spur – more of a Samurai dagger than a sword.

Rebecca Tyson Northern’s book Miniature Orchids notes that it’s “a miniature version of a strap-leaf vanda” that’s “deliciously fragrant in the evening.” She tells me to, “Grow on the cool side of intermediate temperatures (pg. 115).”   Frowine’s Miniature Orchids contradicts this by advising us to treat it to an intermediate-to-warm growing environment with medium light (pgs. 144-145). Like so many other orchid-related quandaries, I’m going to entrust the kitties with giving it the proper care.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

The Kitties wish you a Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Selena Sabine Visits Santa

Sabine paid her yearly visit to Santa and made a litany of requests.  Bean asked for a series of fine orchid specimens (along with the usual list of soft seafood treats).  Compared to the other kitties, Sabine spends the most amount of time in the orchid room, so it's natural that she's the kitty leading the demand for more orchids.

The first one on her list is Paph. delenatii.  Envious that Lan Lan has a slipper orchid, Bean is rallying for a few of her own.  Paph. delenatii is one of the few fragrant Paphiopedilums.  It's compact with a large and mesmerizing pink flower.  She also wants a Paph. malipoense, a dwarf Paph. with a light raspberry scent.

Bean is also craving a green Cattleya hybrid.  Perhaps a Lc. Green Veil 'Dressy' will fit the bill?  A grower writing on the OrchidBoard says that they smell like black pepper.  She's not sure if that's a good thing or not.  Blc. Greenwich 'Elmhurst' AM/AOS stands out as especially attractive this holiday season.  Bean spent a little time on AQ+ slowly scrolling through the ten amazing award-winners from Blc. Greenwich (Lc. Ann Follis x Blc. Lester McDonald).  'Elmurst' boasts of 5-6" apple-green petals, a splash of magenta on the lip, and a strong perfume.  In May 1976, Orchids by Hausermann won 84 points for 'Elmhurst' during the Florida North Central Monthly Judging.  The judges' description noted the "butter yellow" deep in the throat.  Hausermann is selling Blc. Greenwich 'Elmhurst' AM/AOS in three different pot sizes at very reasonable prices.  But Bean cautions me that Santa should probably wait until the March warm-up before acting as a fly-by-night courier for such delicate beauties.  After all, reindeer don't have heat packs


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Meeting Matilda

Do you recall the photo of the Hindenburg blimp moments before it burst into flames?  That's what this picture brings to mind.  Here, Matlida paid a visit to the kitties (Lan Lan had the good sense to stay away).  More accurately, the kitties visited Matilda, who had emerged from under the bed to find Bean gorging on her wet food.  Griffin and Matilda faced off, and Riley rushed up just to cause more trouble.  Cue satanic growling noises from The Exorcist.  I set my camera down when the scene turned more chaotic and, after Griffin took a few swipes at our guest, I put a stop to it.

Matilda is a boy kitty with a female name and Griffin is a girl kitty with a male name.  You would think that they have a lot to talk about.  So, why did Griffin react violently to Matilda?  I patiently explained to Griffin that Matilda was only staying for one or two nights, but it didn't seem to make a difference.  It could have been a selfless gesture from Griffin, defending the home against strange intruders.  When a possum, dog, or other cat lurks outside Griffin is almost always the first on the scene, tail puffy, ears back, and ready to attack whatever animal threatens to penetrate the window screen.  On the other hand, her first thought might have been "more cats means fewer treats!"
Griffin is also a little bit of a camera hog.  She probably knew that I was going to photograph Matilda, and therefore Griffin's jealousy may have been another factor contributing to the tense atmosphere.  Regardless, with Bean, Riley, and Griffin banished from the room, I took advantage of the brief period of calm to capture Matilda posing with our Pot. Jared's Jewel (Pot. Afternoon Delight 'Magnetism' x Slc. Jewel Box 'Scheherazade' AM/AOS) from Oak Hills Gardens.    

Friday, December 18, 2009

I See Aphids

Bean looks over the blooms of this Sharry Baby, thinking that they might be treats. She discovers nasty aphids.

Sure enough, I spotted the pests on adjacent soft-leafed plants. I pulled them off the table and wiped their leaves with warm water and diluted rubbing alcohol. Bean helped, and together we got most of them killed.

The Sharry Baby required more extreme measures, so I consulted my home library.

The otherwise rich and informative The Best Orchids for Indoors, published by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, lives in a blissful world where insects pose no threat. Batchelor's Your First Orchid, published by the AOS, seems to cover all of the insects except aphids. Banks' Orchid Grower's Companion encourages me to consider insecticides only as a last resort and to "take a shower afterward" (pg. 73) as if I'm Karen Silkwood.
Frowine's Orchids for Dummies informs me that aphids are carriers of viruses and diseases, which only ratchets up my growing neurosis. He recommends two lines of defense: warm water and then, if necessary,insecticidal soap, horticultural oil, orange oil, and/or isopropyl alcohol. Finally, Orchid Growing Illustrated by the Rittershausens sends me into a tailspin of paranoia with twenty pages of vivid illustrations of orchid pests and disorders, giving me whole new categories of things to worry about. Pseudomonas cattleyae? Fusarioum oxysporum? And here's a giant picture of a wood louse. Feel better now?

Although each individual book suggested soft initial steps, collectively they led me to attack the problem with extreme prejudice. Break out the Agent Orange! Or "orange oil." Whatever. Ultimately, I wanted an insecticide that accurately captured my emotions upon seeing the bugs. I couldn't find "Frustration." I was also unable to locate "Disgust." So, I settled on "Concern."

I sprayed down the plant in the shower, let it sit overnight, and then washed it down the next day. I waited a week before reintegrating it with the others. Next time, I might apply a softer touch, but the aggressive approach appeared to have worked. I'm prepared for the next outbreak, unless it's giant wood lice.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Three Cat Night

Recently, I was reading about Rhizanthella slateri, an Eastern Australian orchid that grows entirely underground. Only 90 specimens have been found, and in only ten locations. Peter Bernhardt devotes a chapter to the plant in his 1989 book Wily Violets and Underground Orchids.  The Australian government also offers fascinating information about the orchid, including a map of the tiny area of the continent wherein it’s found. It was first discovered in June 1928 by John Trott, a farmer who was burning eucalyptus bushes. He discovered flowers underneath the burnt earth, and he then took them to a prominent botanist.  The plants live off fungus. Bernhardt speculated that the flowers are designed to attract flies, which are normally drawn to mushrooms that are just below the surface.  

In any event, what does this have to do with the kitties? Well, just as the Rhizanthella slateri blooms in the winter, the cats like to sleep on the bed with Temperance and Trixie during the cold nights. All of them, except Bean, crowd the bed. Griffin, however, is the only underground kitty of the crew. Sometimes, her presence is an advantage because she’s like a little heater.  Purring and curled up next to my chest, Griffin lowers the risk of nighttime hypothermia.  Other times, she decides she wants to leave the bed at two in the morning and claws her way out. Then, a few minutes later, she will want back in . . . and then, ten minutes later, after I've fallen back asleep, she will scratch and make a fuss and exit the blankets once again.

Back to the orchid: The Australian government classifies Rhizanthella slateri as "Endangered" under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.  New South Wales lists it as a "Threatened Species."  Conservationists might reject this notion, but Griffin's pestering makes me wonder: is Rhizanthella slateri endangered for evolutionarily sound reasons?  Perhaps orchid flowers, like cats, don’t belong underground.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Back to School

A couple of weeks ago I took a three-hour orchid class at Birds BontanicalsDave Bird led a wonderful learning experience oriented toward the window sill hobbyist.  The class was especially helpful because he addressed conditions specific to the seasons shifts in north-east Kansas.  He discussed the general growing and blooming requirements of five popular genera and showed off some of the finer ones in bloom, including Blc. Orange Nugget (above). I couldn't stop staring at it.  When he found out about my catt addiction, gave me specific tips about my catt culture (catts like clay pots, catts are heavier feeders than I thought, I should keep my small fan on for longer periods of time to improved air circulation in my growing space, and -- my consistent worry -- let there be more light!).

At the end, we learned how to pot a phalaenopsis.  We took our plants home, but Dave observed that we will truly pass the class only when we can get them to bloom.  The class was conducted with a lot of good humor, and I think the best advice concerned WalMart phalaenopsis packaged with the infamous recommendation to water the plant with three ice cubes per week.  With a flash of fierce dry humor, Dave said that we might as well use thirty ice cubes, since that will kill it quicker. 

The next class is January 14th.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Cat and Wildcat

Riley eyes a bloom from this Colmanara Wildcat ‘Green Valley.’ This particular hybrid is a cross between Odontonia Rustic Bridge x Odontocidium Crowborough. Riley thinks that this particular spray is on its last legs, and he’s probably right. This is supposed to be a frequently blooming variety so, as long as Riley is on good behavior, we should be okay. But you never know with Riley.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

"Why Won't Our Spider Plant Grow?"

For months we wonder why our spider plant wasn't thriving.  Other plants grew while our spider plant cutting flailed.  It never got off the ground despite regular water and plenty of light.
What could possibly be wrong?  Teeth marks on the leaves pointed to at least one of four possible troublemakers.  Then, I witnessed Griffin barf up suspicious looking plant matter, but I it didn't explain the wholesale misery of our particular specimen.  Then I saw it.  Griffin was sitting on the spider plant.  Moreover, she seemed to have no awareness that she was doing anything wrong.  It must have seemed like a perfect place to watch squirrels and -- you have to admit -- she looks extremely content.  Recognizing our uphill battle, I moved the plant from the clay pot to a hanging plastic pot.  It's thriving now that Griffin is unable to sit on it.

We were interested in spider plants (chlorophytum comosum) after learning about their ability to absorb air pollutants.  I didn't think they were going to be a problem because some say that these plants are "the easiest to grow of all the hanging or trailing plants" and are "among the easiest houseplants to propagate."  No one, however, considered the Griffin factor.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Double Trouble

Riley watches Griffin inspect the Dendrobium. Riley and Griffin are good friends, but their fraternizing often leads to rough and tumble antics. Griffin will walk up to Riley for some grooming and – five minutes later – the sweet scene of one cat lapping the forehead of another devolves into claws, tackles, and furry chaos. It looks like Riley had a perfect position to paw at Griffin, but he was on surprisingly good behavior. The blooms are from a Den. ‘Thames Blue.’ I don’t know much more about it except that it came to me with severely wrinkled pseudobulbs. I gradually increased the water.  It's been in bloom for a long time.  After it's finished, I'll give it a rest and ease up on the water.  I’m glad Riley and Griffin don’t have to rest for the winter – it would be a lot less fun.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Fresh Water Kitty

Ever since she was a small kitten, Lan Lan has appreciated the fresh water that flows from a slow faucet.  Even with a full dish of water, LL will rush toward the faucet and demand that someone turn it on.  It can't be a faint drip, but it can't be turned too high, either.  And she prefers the coldest available from the tap.  This adorable little habit has been easy enough to indulge.  Its cost in terms of water is low, except for the approximately 6,800 times Lan Lan forgot to turn off the faucet after she finished her drink.

Here, she's posing next to a myoxanthus octomorioides, a pleurothallis-type miniature I picked up from Clackamas Orchids.  No one bid on it during the eBay auction and, at only four dollars, it looked too cute to pass up.  Plants of the Myoxanthus genus are found in Central and South America. Botanist have identified about fifty Myoxanthus species.  Myoxanthus means "dormouse flower" in Greek.  I couldn't find much information about this species, but I stumbled upon some important cultural information for the genus at the blog About Orchids.  I especially appreciated the pronunciation tip (Myoxanthus rhymes with "Go try Kansas.")

Okay.  I think Lan Lan is done.  Time to turn off the water.  Oh look!  A pretty orchid . . .

Friday, December 4, 2009

Frog Friday!

Above the fog, pushing her way past the Bulbophyllum, Alice contemplates jumping into the ultrasoinc mister. We have it set to bathe the frogs and the orchids at regular intervals for about four hours a day total. Almost all of the frogs have climbed up on the ledge and dropped into the foggy pool while the ultrasonic mister is on. It seems like the thing to do. The frogs and most of the orchids love it, but the one featured here is getting too much of a good thing. You can see rot begin to form on the bottom right root. It’s simply getting too much water in this location.

So, we moved it to a higher and drier place on the frog wall. The baby in question is a Barkeria whartoniana about two years from flowering. Barkeria whartoniana is very rare in the wild and is only found in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Oaxaca Mexico. I bought mine from Clackamas Orchids. It grows on rocks in dry and hot conditions, so its initial placement on the frog wall invited all sorts of problems.  Barkerias also need to dry out during the winter.  I've mounted it on the other side of the orchid wall, away from the fogger, and it has recovered nicely.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Who Was Sidney J. Bracey?

Can Lan Lan wait a few more years until this blooms? Or will she demand I get a blooming-size one next Spring? She’s staring at a Lc. S.J. Bracey ‘Waiolani.’ The pictures of the full-sized plants look gorgeous, but who the heck is S.J. Bracey?

Typing “Sidney Bracey” and “orchids” into Google immediately leads me to references to an actor named Sidney Bracey who played an uncredited role in Edward G. Robinson’s “Brother Orchid” (a wonderful movie, by the way). Searches for B.O. Bracey were equally frustrating. To the library!

With a little research, I discovered that Sidney J. Bracey was born in England in 1899. He came to the United States with his brother Benjamin O. Bracey in the early 1920’s. Both were listed in the census as florists in the greenhouse industry. By 1930, Sidney was married to a woman named Louise and they had a three year-old daughter named Vanda.

A 1927 Los Angeles Times article described how Ben Bracey went to see Walter Armacost, a horticulturalist from the Chicago area. Bracey had, “like his father before him, been employed on a great estate in England to grow orchids.” Bracey and Armacost made a business arrangement and then brought Lewis Knudson out from the east coast so he could teach Bracey and Armacost his revolutionary techniques of growing orchids from seed on sterile agar (LAT, Jun. 19, 1927, L3). The article also discussed how Bracey and Armacost hoped to develop a “perpetual Cattleya.”  Dream on, kids.

Before World War II, Ben Bracey trained renown orchid breeders Oscar and William Kirsch, Joe Ozella, and Joe Hampton.  In 1952, he founded his own company and created the famed Lc. Bonanza -- an orchid Robert Atkinson described as "one of the greatest orchids of all time" (LAT, 17 Apr. 1966, pg. 18).

[Sidney Bracey is shown in the photo above and Ben Bracey is shown working in his lab below on the left.]

Brother Sidney was no slouch, either.  In 1937, Sidney Bracey wrote an article for the Los Angeles Times (“Confessions of an Orchid Grower” Dec. 12, L16) outlining seed propagation methods. The article features two women. Is this Louise Bracey? Or could this be Betty Bracey?

In 1952, Sidney Bracey wrote another article for the Times discussing his Lc. ‘Los Angeles,’ named in recognition of the anniversary of the founding of Los Angeles. He wrote: “its production evolves from thousands of years spent by nature perfecting yellow-toned species and the world famous natural hybrid Cattleya hardyana” (Aug. 31, F25).  I haven't found any contemporary references to the Lc. 'Los Angeles.'  What happened?

Lan Lan and I have many more questions about S.J. Bracey and his family, but anyone who names their kid Vanda can’t be half bad.

Monday, November 30, 2009

How Are Those Humidity Levels?

Griffin likes to wander during watering time, inspecting the health of the plant babies and making sure everything is okay. Here, she sniffs a C. bowringiana. Next, she’ll check on the Dendrobium ‘Berry Oda’ AM/AOS (Den. kingianum x Den. ‘Mini Pearl’), a fragrant miniature with dreamy pink flowers. It’s the thirstiest one in my collection and it's about a week from blooming. One day, maybe it will look like this, but only if Griffin gives it plenty of light and a solid temperature drop during the winter evening.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Frog Friday!

This aerial shot shows all of the frogs out to play.  You'll notice that we've added a fifth. Horst is an European Fire-Bellied Toad (the others are Asian Fire-Bellied Toads).  Horst appears to be integrating into the commune nicely.  In the upper right corner, you can see the flowers of the Bulbophyllum flavescens, which made an appearance during the last Frog Friday.  It has fewer than ten flowers, but it's still pretty exciting.  I'm having a hard time adjusting my camera settings so I can focus on the flowers.  Until I figure it out, you can take a look at this photo from for a closeup.  My Bulbophyllum flavescens gives me hope that the other miniatures are doing okay and -- like the fresh presence of Horst -- it's another fun and exotic element of the vivarium

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Griffin is Thankful . . .

. . . I wasn't watching the breadsticks more carefully.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Lan Lan Gets a Lady Slipper!

Lan Lan is the first kitty in the house to get her own orchid!  She let's her siblings enjoy the orchid room while she commands a different part of the house.  Here, she proudly poses next to an extremely cute Paph. hainanense I purchased from Oak Hills Gardens.   From OrchidWeb, I learned that Paph. hainanense is a warm-growing species native to the Hainan Island of China, and it's part of the appletonianum group of Paphs.

The orchid is all alone in a makeshift "humidity Tupperware" and, perhaps in the future, it will be joined by other Paphiopedilum friends.  For now, I trust Lan Lan to watch over it and give it company.  I think it will work well in Lan Lan's paws because it doesn't need much light (750-1,000 fc) and can live happily away from the highly humid orchid table.  You may have noticed Lan Lan's dark eye.  She has iris melanoma (also called "iris nevi") but we've taken her to a specialist and it didn't have any signs of malignancy.  We will continue to watch over Lan Lan just like she's going to watch over her new lady slipper.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Labiata Lore

The picture on the left is a gorgeous flower from a C. labiata.  This image is one of over a thousand orchid pictures compiled by brothers Arne and Bent Larsen on Orkide Galleri.  Their site is informative and educational, but I need to warn you that gazing at pictures like this or this can generate serious orchid envy.

The C. labiata is one of the most famous plants in Orchidaceae because it was the first of the large-flower Cattleyas to be identified, and it has a compelling story of being "lost" in the 1820's and "rediscovered" in 1889.  (I put "lost" and "rediscovered" in quotation marks because I assume that some of the native peoples of Brazil saw this plant all the time.)

Cattleya labiata entered the Western botanical world after it was discovered by William Swainson in Pernambuco Brazil in early 1817.  In 1818, Swainson reportedly returned to England with over 20,000 insects, 1,200 plant species, hundreds of bird skins, and a goodly number of fish.  His apparent obsession with bugs might explain why he didn't marry until 1823.  Anyway, Swainson sent the labiata specimen to John Lindley and, in 1821, Lindley formally named the genus after his patron, William Cattley. 

William Swainson left for New Zealand and, without a high-speed Internet connection, the English horticulturalists (who were going bananas over the C. labiata) had no way to contact him.  Also, from what I've read, these explorer types were often reluctant to share their knowledge of where to find precious flowers.  Some people thought that the plant could be found in Rio de Janerio because Swainson made his shipments from Rio.  No luck.  So, this plant, whose flowers Lindley described as exceptionally large and beautiful, disappeared from Western view for over seventy years.

Chadwick and Chadwick's 2006 book The Classic Cattleyas, published by Timber Press, gives the definitive account of the discovery and 1889 rediscovery of C. labiata. (Chadwick and Sons Orchids, by the way, offer several rare C. labiata plants for sale on their website.)  Their account of the rediscovery of C. labiata is definitive, in my opinion, because they consider and reject competing explanations for why the plant came back into English society in the late 19th century.  They also examine why some of the tall tales became popular.  This is unique because other accounts I've read either champion a single explanation or they simply list the different theories and let the reader decide.

There are at least two apocryphal tales told about the discovery and rediscovery of this plant.  In the first, C. labiata was discovered because someone used them as packing material for a shipment of lichens sent to William Cattley.  Cattley threw them in a corner of his greenhouse and, with healthy neglect, they bloomed.  The true account is much more straightforward: Swainson sent a C. labiata specimen to Lindley.

The second tall tale is that the species was rediscovered when someone knowledgeable about orchids spotted C. labiata on a lady's corsage at an evening ball.  Again, the most likely and realistic account is also the most boring.  Some guy (who wasn't really into flowers) had some C. labiatas from his collector in Pernambuco.  Some other guy, who knew a lot about orchids, was visiting while the flowers were blooming, and he soon thereafter recognized them as the "lost" species.

Despite Chadwick and Chadwick's book, and despite informative site like Garden Notes, the dubious tales surrounding the C. labiata will likely persist.  I say this because both stories are repeated as established fact, with no accompanying references or citations, in Susan Orlean's best-selling The Orchid Thief (see pages 65 and 69).  Andrew Weil's blurb on the inside cover says, "The Orchid Thief provides further, compelling evidence that truth is stranger than fiction," but Orlean's bungling of the C. labiata story makes me wonder about that.              .

Friday, November 20, 2009

Frog Friday!

In the photo on the left, Ted sits next to a Bulbophyllum flavescens. It’s a good spot because some of the crickets escape into the bark and moss during the morning feeding, and Ted definitely has the patience to wait until they emerge. We distinguish him from Bob because he has two green dots on his back that echo Elliot Gould’s hairy back (as seen in the film Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice). The Bulbophyllum flavescens is a miniature orchid found in the Philippines, Malaysia, Borneo, Sumatra, and the Cats and Catts vivarium. I purchased it from the good people at Clackamas Orchids

The photo on the right shows Ted sitting on the Pluerothallis, staring at the Bulbophyllum.  Maybe he's looking at the spike poke out underneath the left-most leaf of the Bulbophyllum? I was a little worried that Ted was going to crush these small plants during an afternoon cricket hunt but, as of this writing, he's left the spike alone, it's extended a couple of centimeters, and I think its tiny flowers are about to open.  Stay tuned . . . 

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Bad Kitty!

I’ve narrowed it down to four suspects. Lan Lan spends most of her mornings upstairs and tends to avoid watering time. Sabine is too graceful for such a blunder. That leaves Riley and Griffin. If it was Riley, I might expect the spill to be more dramatic. Griffin, on the other hand, was probably inspecting the plant, giving it gentle nudges in an attempt to have the plant give her treats. This is all speculation, however. I don’t want to underestimate Riley’s clumsiness.

The victim here is a Cattleya hybrid from Oak Hills Gardens. It’s not yet flowering size but – if it does – it should produce large white flowers with a complex lacey lip. It’s a cross between C. Joyce Hannington and C. Empress Bells ‘White Sands.’ Joyce Hannington was registered as a new hybrid in 1945 (C. Barbara Dane x C. Snowdon) and it went on to receive 18 awards from the American Orchid Society. Given this esteemed heritage, you’d think the kitties would show my plant a little more respect.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cuteness Maxima

Sabine towers over a C. maxima seedling that I picked up from Clackamas Orchids. The other image is a maxima from Warner and William’s 11-volume illustrated series The Orchid Album, published in London from 1882-1897. The maxima species is found in Venezuela, Columbia, Ecuador, and parts of Peru. It was first named by botanist John Lindley in 1833.

Sabine (or “Bean” as she’s known around these parts) is concerned about the yellowing leaf. She’s read on the OrchidBoard that seedlings need more water, and she encourages me to water the babies when they need water, not necessarily to water them on a set schedule. So, I’m going to try Bean’s advice and we’ll see how it goes.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Pretty Tacky!

Guest-starring for the first time on Cats and Catts, Tachometer (aka "Tacky") shares the sun with a noid Phal.  It's hard to believe from looking at her that she was once feral.  Now, she's mellow and healthy like her phalaenopsis friend.  Tacky competes for Best Kitty in the Condo with her siblings Hamcat and Katana.

If you have a cat/orchid photo you'd like to share with the vast Cats and Catts audience, please send it my way.  This blog doesn't always have to be about the four weirdos around here.  So, send those kitty pics! temperanceunion #at#   

Thursday, November 12, 2009

He's Cool for Catts

Riley sniffs “Wendy’s Valentine ‘June.’” This is a Slc. I purchased as part of a bargain 10-pack of Cattleya hybrids from Oak Hills Gardens. It’s years away from blooming -- what are suppose to be -- amazing red flowers (see above). In the meantime, I have two bold aspirations: don’t kill it and don’t let Griffin kill it. Maybe I need to have Sabine guard the plant to protect it from the other kitties.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Lan Lan Inspects a Dendrobium

In today’s photo, Lan Lan admires a healthy shoot coming up from our Dendrobium Thongchai Gold ‘Pinwattana.’ Trixie pointed out that the lip of the flower from this one feels kind of like a cat’s tongue. It has more of a sandpaper quality than some of the others. Perhaps an evolutionary biologist or botanist can explain why – all I know is that the blooms are gorgeous and exotic with striking veins of red. They’ve also been long lasting. This bloom held up for nearly eight weeks:

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Chocolate Treats!

Griffin is always looking for treats. Begging. Crying. Causing trouble. That’s Griffin. Here, she’s taking in the dreamy chocolate and vanilla aroma of an Oncidium ‘Sharry Baby.’ Steve Frowine in Orchids for Dummies declares, “This is thought to be the single most popular orchid in the world!” Frowine places the ‘Sharry Baby’ on a Top Ten Easiest Orchids to Grow list, but he didn’t consider how its heavenly scent would attract bad cats looking for treats. To be fair, I’ve had it for three months without Griffin trying to eat it, but she’s full of surprises.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Selena Sabine with a Taste of Belize

Selena Sabine remembers the evening in scary fragments. Towering men. The smell of booze, stale pizza, and gasoline. A bet. A dare. Cruel machismo. One yanked her tail. Another pulled at her tiny head. A third revved up the truck. A crowd of six or seven men, representing a mentality and a slice of inhumanity no one likes to think about, prepared to crush a tiny black kitten just for kicks. From a distance, an extremely cute girl surmised what was going to happen and rushed in front of the pizza place and confronted the men. Her adorable cheeks scrunched up with rage as she let loose with screams of outrage and threats of immanent police involvement. As the men backed off, the then-nameless kitten looked up at her angel and tried to meow. She took her to her car and thought “Okay, I guess I have another cat.”

Over a decade later, Sabine is safe in the orchid room, looking at a Cattleya bowringiana that’s about 2-3 years from flowering, purchased from Clackamas Orchids. This species is native to Belize, and is named after a 19th century English orchid enthusiast and political economist (Sir John Bowring). Chadwick and Son Orchids explains that “everyone had a plant or two 50 years ago,” so the species went out of style. They promise that C. bowringana “is probably the easiest of all the Cattleya species to grow,” so Sabine and I are hoping we won’t kill this one.