Lily Lion Heart

Monday, 4 June 2012

Captivating Cypripedium

In 2009 my Father and I travelled to Tobermory and Flowerpot Island on Georgian Bay in the Grey-Bruce Peninsula. This trip was with the Southern Ontario Orchid Society. This region is rich with native orchids and other native flora and it didn't disappoint.  I took many photos at the time with my Blackbery, and wish I would have invested in a REAL camera, a Digital SLR. I saw the beautiful C. reginae, arietinum, parviflorum and calceolus. C. calceolus was ubiquitous in habitat. What a sight to see! Seeing plants in habitat is what I get excited about. I currently grow C. parviflorum v. Makasin, C. reginae, and C. x alaskanum. Let me say that none were wild collected, as I am not a proponent of that, however if they were going to be bulldozed for a housing development, I would be there in a heartbeat with trowel in hand to save the plants I could.

C. parviflorum v. Makasin- They grow in fens and wet forests, however in cultivation they prefer mesic conditions. If they are grown in soil that isn't too rich in organic matter and lean towards the sandy side they will increase readily. They are found from Alaska across Canada to the southeastern U.S. This is one of the easy Cyps. to grow. They have lovely dark maroon sepals and petals, and are sweetly scented.

C. reginae- is one of the showiest Lady's Slippers and another one that is fairly easy in cultivation. In nature is grows in calcareous fens, however in cultivation does not prefer wet conditions, but rather well-drained mesic composts. It has been overpicked and should be protected from further exploitation due to its pulchritude. It's especially common in the Great Lakes region and its range is from Saskatchewan east to Newfoundland, south to North Carolina, west to Arkansas and north to Minnesota. The glandular hairs of the foliage may cause a rash similar to that caused by Poison Ivy, of which I am immune.

C. x alaskanum-is a natural hybrid between C. guttatum and C. yatabeanum confined to Alaska , Kodiak Island and the Aleutians. It is a tiny orchid (probably the size of a quarter) with lovely pink spotting on the lip, sepals and petals. Sadly this year I had one bud which was about to open, and within a few days after that the bud was brown. I was, and am still perplexed. The picture of this diminutive gem is from last year.  I grow it in a rich moist compost in the shade.

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