Tuesday, July 30, 2013

50,000 Square Metres of Orchids!

I can remember a long time ago as a young Canadian girl of 7 or 8, seeing an orchid for the first time. My sister Nan was donning a glittery ball gown and there was extra excitement and anticipation because her boyfriend Garth had promised a corsage of orchids. I had no idea what that even meant but I picked up from the vibe that this would be a flower of some significance. Honestly, that first glimpse I remember as a letdown. Unlike anything I had seen before, I did not appreciate the exotic, rare, likely very expensive and lovely thing before me. It seemed plain and oddly coloured. (Who knows what my imagination had conjured in the lead-up to the big reveal!)

Years later, my tastes honed, living in South East Asia, I know a thing of beauty when I see one! (And my family and friends at the quilt shop could attest that the puce, lime-tinged, acid yellow colour is one of my favourites!) So, a trip to the Ragunan Orchid Garden in South Jakarta yesterday to admire a few of the many orchid species native to Indonesia was a real treat as well as a sight to behold!

The Jakarta Post newspaper describes the Orchid Garden as a 50 hectare establishment with 42 vendors. We didn't see all of this, and only visited 3 of these huge, outdoor greenhouses, but this was impressive enough! My friend Wendy is visiting from Perth, and she was the perfect person to accompany me today - interested and appreciative, and much more knowledgeable about these exotic beauties than I. As I quibbled prices with vendors, Wendy wisely reminded me that the prices at this market were small change compared to what I would be charged in Australia.

There were row upon row of beautiful colours and varieties, lush green tropical plants, flowering succulents, seedlings and new cuttings, mature plants and everything in between. The ceilings of dark coloured shade cloth seemed to compound the humidity and the air was dense and moist - perfect growing conditions it would seem.
Wendy helped me choose 6 standout orchids. It was a trick to whittle the wish list down to six but I now have a lineup of plants with various coloured flowers, healthy looking stems and lots of new growth. One plant's blooms are a rich dark chocolate, nearly black colour! Exquisite!

I don't have a terrific track record with my gardening efforts, but I am counting on this very forgiving tropical climate and the packets of fertiliser I purchased to help me out! On the drive home, we stopped at a roadside nursery and found a concrete planter box that fits nicely along the pool's edge and camouflages a bare patch in the garden. I hope my new orchids will settle in and thrive!

Another successful Jakarta outing! This city has so many pretty pockets! Thanks Wendy for sharing this experience with me! I have been wanting to get to the Orchid Garden ever since we moved from the apartment to our house, but I am glad that I waited until today and had your company. If I need help coaxing these orchids to grow and bloom, will you be able to return to Jakarta and help me tend them?!!!?

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