Monday, September 7, 2009

National Cymbidium Show - Melbourne

Colin Gillespie's Stand
(note all the blue ribbons)

When a big show comes to town there is always a bit of a buzz in the air. I have fond memories of every February in my childhood because of the biggest show in town for me, The Philadelphia Flower Show. This was the one big outing of the year for me. Imagine, in the middle of winter in the northeast of the United States, being treated to acres of the most exotic plants gathered together in enormous displays, all in the comfort of a heated convention centre. All the great nurseries of the tri-state area would be there. Styer's Nursery, with their beds of forced hardy plants, flowering well out of season. The DuPont family with magnificent displays of massed tropical plants. Several of the local orchid nurseries always had stunning displays. These orchid displays were always my favourite.

At 12 years old, my Grandmother accompanied my mother and I to the Philly Flower Show. This was an eye opener for Grammy and even better that her grandson could show her around. This was also the year I was allowed to buy my first orchids. The previous year I had purchased a Pepperomia obtusifolia, but this year I graduated to Maxillaria variabilis, a white Phalaenopsis and a little Oncidium cheirophorum. The delightful thing about the Philadelphia Flower Show is that the sales area is nearly as big as the display area. Probably a hectare or more. What appeared to be hundreds of stalls offered everything from orchids to houseplants to exotic bulbs, seeds, trees and shrubs and an endless array of garden supplies and accoutrements. The greenhouses fascinated me the most. You could spend hours wandering around with the thousands of other people doing exactly the same thing.

On the 3rd to the 5th of September, the Cymbidium Orchid Club of Victoria hosted the biggest show in town, The National Cymbidium Show at the Springvale City Hall. While not covering hectares it is certainly large by Australian standards. For me, it held no less 'buzz' than did the Flower Show in Philadelphia. This was the opportunity to see a whole range of plants that I don't grow. It is also a great place to see magnificently grown specimens. My plants will never look like the winning plants in the show, but it is good to know that it is possible! Gives one something to strive for.

Have you ever seen the movie 'Best in Show'? It is a behind the scenes look at the workings of a dog show. The experience of the person that comes along to view the show could not be more different to the experience of those involved behind the scenes. The spectator sees beautifully groomed and presented dogs and happy smiling faces on the trainers. Behind the scenes it is all intrigue and skullduggery. I wondered when I walked into the national show if there was any truth in the movie and if it translated to the orchid world. Certainly the plants were all perfectly groomed and the growers all had happy smiling faces. I think there was a difference here, the people were actually talking to each other and milling around in ever-changing group configurations. This group of exhibitors was actually not conforming to the stereotype portrayed in the movie. Then again, these are plant people, the gentler, kinder souls of the world.

One can't help but be sucked into the excitement of a show. Even if you would never grow many of the plants you can't help but admire the exquisite beauty of the specimens so lovingly cared for and presented. My original aim of this post was to show a perfectly chronicled account of the show but this did not happen. There is no way that all of the winners could have been listed and photographed. Equally hard for me would have been to list all the winners. Actually, this is a convenient excuse for my lack of record keeping. I spent hours taking pictures of the plants and carefully recording their names but failed to record their awards or their growers! A few names of the growers come to mind but I hope they forgive me if their names are spelled incorrectly or I wrongly attribute a plant to them. I tried to check all of the orchid names for the correct spelling but inevitably some will be wrong. Please let me know. Can I blame the labels on the plants?

For me the show was a great place to see what people are growing and showing and to get photos of plants that will never be found in my greenhouse. Above all though, it was a place for me to catch up with my friends from the web forum, old friends and a few new friends that I met over the three days. Well, the plants lived up to expectations and what a social time was had. Shame my wallet is suffering from withdrawal. Nothing went into it all weekend and everything came out.

The proviso of not singling out winners, mentioned above, will be put on hold for the most outstanding display at the show. The grower? Colin Gillespie. Wow, can this guy grow orchids. His plants are like my plants but on steroids. Everything about them is huge and absolutely perfectly formed without a blemish to be seen or a leaf or petal out of place. Alright, his plants are nothing like my plants. Colin is right up there with the best growers in the world and deserves every award he gets. The degree of care and dedication this man shows is to be commended. Come to think of it, it would be hard to find a Cymbidium grower anywhere that could surpass him.

Colin Gillespie's Stand
(Notice all the blue ribbons)

Cymbidium Valley Spash 'Awesome'
A deserving Grand Champion

For the most part, I will let the show and more especially the plants, speak for themselves. The goal of the photography session was not to take pictures of just the winners. While there are winners included in the photos most are just plants that caught my eye or had a special quality about them. They are not even representative of what was at the show. There where so many plants the line had to be drawn somewhere. Basically, I started at one point and just moved through taking pictures at whim until both of my batteries ran out. I couldn't include them all here but will include some in future posts. I hope you like them.

Cymbidium Club of South Australia
(A display of a hundred or so cut spikes. Wayne Bayliss wins best cut spike)

The Central Display area

Terry Poulton's huge tower of flowers.
Another great grower.

Cymbidium Zumma Spring 'Pure Magic'

Cymbidium Valley Splash 'Touch of Pink'

Cymbidium Templestowe Charm 'number 1'

Cymbidium Templestowe Charm 'number 2'

Cymbidium Templestowe Charm 'Matthew'
(This plant caused a great stir. How much did they want to pay for it?)

Cymbidium Spicy Kahn 'Comet'

Cymbidium (Portuguese Passion X Memoria Merv Dunn)

Cymbidium (Paradisean Bullseye X devonianum)

Cymbidium O'Beaston

Cymbidium Ned Kelly 'Cabernet'

Cymbidium Midnight Muffet 'Vivid'

Cymbidium (Memoria Vernell Jenson X Alexandra Beauty) 'Zach'
Grown by Terry Poulton

Cymbidium (Lunikera X Allumination)

Cymbidium Lumines

Cymbidium Kiwi Devonport 'Touch of Class'

Cymbidium Kimberly Splash 'Tee Pee'
Grown by Terry Poulton

Cymbidium Kelly's Winter 'Golden Sovereign'

Cymbidium Kalahari Pepper 'Karen'

Cymbidium (Janis Lin X Anna Szabo) 'Number 2'

Cymbidium (Hazel Fay X Wallacia) 'Bengal'

Cymbidium Havre Des Pas 'Trinity'

Cymbidium (floribundum x Ngaire) 'Orange'

Cymbidium Flaming Pepper 'Tee Pee'
Another Terry Poulton plant. Magnificent colour!

Cymbidium Drouin Masterpiece 'Renae'
For me the most interesting intermediate in the show.

Cymbidium (Coraki Advent X Lunar Glades) 'A-Stounding'

Cymbidium Bulbarrow 'Tepus'

Cymbidium Alexanderi 'Fine'
This one caught my eye from across the room.