May 2007 Archived Messages

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January 1-7 8-14 15-21 22-31 February 1-7 8-14 15-21 22-28
March 1-7 8-14 15-21 22-31 April 1-7 8-14 15-21 22-30
May 1-7 8-14 15-21 22-31 June 1-7 8-14 15-21 22-30
July 1-7 8-14 15-21 22-31 August 1-7 8-14 15-21 22-31
September 1-7 8-14 15-21 22-30 October 1-7 8-14 15-21 22-31
November 1-7 8-14 15-21 22-30 December 1-7 8-14 15-21 22-31

1—7 May

From: John Stanley
To: Orchid Talk List
Subject: Re: [OrchidTalk] Sea shells − and where do orchids get their nutrition ?
Date: Tue, 01 May 2007 09:50

Hi Geoff,
Trust you've moved on from the influence of the bubbles (and congrats on the wedding anniversary). Now for the trivia as you suggest;
1. I'm really very sympathetic with your views re-feathered 747s. (come to think of it, the tin ones have been known to drop fertilizer too but that's probably outside your researches!)
2.Not too sure about a sky being washed "clean". I suspect (but don't really "know") that there are loads of molecular nuclei floatin' about up there most of the time − some of them in the atmosphere above the clouds until the air gets stirred at the interface and with the ocean-atmos interface too of course.
3. Not sure that you "prove" anything with a theory! Probably the most plausible explanation and the best we (you) 've got but that's not proof. Asserting 'proof' from a theory gives fuel to anti scientists who so often base their attacks on the fact that scientific theories aren't "proven".
4. Sorry about Courier; if its a problem at my end it only converts yours − nobody else's!
5. Only 364 days to the next bottle o' bubbly eh?


From: Tina Stagg
To: Orchid Talk List
Subject: Re: [OrchidTalk] Bifrenaria harrisoniae var. alba 'Susan' CCC-AM/RHS
Date: Tue, 01 May 2007 10:50

That is a beautiful plant, Peter. Congratulations.

Dick Warren gave a talk to CANWOS last week about his Rio project and showed a slide of Bifrenaria harrisoniae growing in the wild. The huge clump was baked hard by the sun, and wrinkled with yellow leaves. I was pleased that mine flowered regularly in its NW corner but, having seen yours, I realise that perhaps I could do better!

Regards, Tina


From: Geoffrey Hands
To: Orchid Talk List
Subject: Re: [OrchidTalk] Sea shells − and where do orchids get their nutrition ?
Date: Tue, 01 May 2007 17:55

I've heard Darwins ideas dismissed as theory.

I'm too modest to call it Geoff's law.



From: Dennis Read
To: Orchid Talk List
Subject: Roots and sea shells
Date: Tue, 01 May 2007 19:40

As I satrted these hares running may I now have my penny worth. I am surprised that the article was critisised for being to simple for the RHS magazine. The Royal Horticultural Society is no longer the domain of the titled, rich and scientific class but is open to all with an interest in plants. This article was considered to be of interest to the general readers who pay for its upkeep although it was written by a lady who had only been growing for 14 years. Maybe the critic would like to write an article on phalaenopsis window cill culivation.
Her quoted example of detritus as a fertiliser has been propounded by many authors and speakers but I agree the number of birds and animals you see in the rainforest is minimal. I await the article on chemical inclusion in rainforest rain water with more than Ph and EC values as they could be accounted for by dead algae being washed from the leaves and not exuded. A chemical analysis is required.I have never seen reference to the article quoted by Proff. Bruno. Was it that well received?
It has always been accepted that trees grown on acidic ground produce acidic leaf mould and those on neutral earth produce neutral compost.
Whatever is said my Ida costata plants now have pure green leaves since feeding with calcium nitrate and next week I shall spray a so;ution of Magnesium sulphate and see if there are any improvements.
Regards from a wonderful relaxing Devon


From: jan
To: Orchid Talk List
Subject: Re: [OrchidTalk] Sea shells − and where do orchids get their nutrition ?
Date: Wed, 02 May 2007 06:05

"Most if not all perform better when man has a hand in their environment
and development", you say? I wouldn't agree with that, not by a long
way. We have up until now managed singlehandedly to initiate one of the
major mass extinction events in the history of our planet, just by
bumbling around without knowing or caring about what we do.

As for what we do to orchids − I think that is very much a matter of
taste. I for one think that a natural species beats the gaudy opulence
of a man-made hybrid any day of the week. Think about it ecologically;
orchids have evolved over millions of years to fit into almost every
niche − they are certainly not just hanging on with the tip of their
nails, they are right where they are best.

No, all 'man' has made out of the orchid family is hybrids that have
lost some their natural variability and vitality. The improvements as
you call it are only improvements from our very limited perspective − it
means flowers with fewer colours (what we call 'pure' colours), plants
that grow bigger and therefore look 'healthier', and quite often they
have lost whatever mechanism that tells them to stop flowering and start
growing in preparation to next year's flowering. These artifacts are not
able to live on their own in nature, and I wouldn't call that an


Ron Bower wrote:
> RHS Orchid Roots,
> Well said Geoff.


From: Tricia Garner
To: Orchid Talk List
Subject: [OrchidTalk] More Bifrenaria pics
Date: Thu, 03 May 2007 08:35

Here are a couple of pics of one Alan's Bifrenaria harrisoniae currently
flowering at Garner Heights.

The stems are as long as they have ever been and some have two flowers − a
first for them.



Motorcar: a four-wheeled vehicle that runs up hills and down pedestrians.


From: Roger Grier
To: Orchid Talk List
Subject: Bifrenaria. Epidendrum/Encyclias.
Date: Thu, 03 May 2007 08:55

Mornin' Tricia,

No wonder you are so pleased with your Bifrenaria 'Garner Heights'. It sure looks very well. Pity you cannot send the fragrance via the Internet !!!!!

And now on to Epidendrums/Encyclias.

There is one problem that I have encountered with some of the Epidendrums/Encyclias which as yet I have not been able to conquer. My problem is with the very hard [like concrete] bulbed varieties. I just do not seem to be able to get them to grow for more than a year or so, and they seem loath to throw up new growths.

HELP ! Do any of you suffer the same fate, or how do you grow them well.

Kind regards, Rocky.


From: Geoffrey Hands
To: Orchid Talk List
Subject: Re: [OrchidTalk] Bifrenaria. Epidendrum/Encyclias.
Date: Thu, 03 May 2007 16:55

After seeing them in the wild in Mexico/etc I give them all the light I can
- hanging up with the Vandas. I have been collecting them for only a couple
of years, and so far have only flowered 3 or 4 species, but some of these
have done better at the 2nd flowering .

Roger, I expect you remember David Sander ? For the benefit of a younger
generation , he was THE species expert with a nursery near East Grinstead -
member of a famous orchid family − at least Fred Sander "The Orchid King" in
the late part of the 19th century was his father or grandfather ( I assume)

I won't say anything about their business practices − don't speak ill of the
dead − and its irrelevant anyway.

However, David you to preach the doctrine that an orchid will tell you what
it wants − you just have to use your eyes.

If it has bulbs like lumps of cast iron and/or leaves you can use as
daggers, then it wants 2 things . Lots of light − and a good hard rest.

If it has leaves which are thin and floppy , and soft bulbs, it needs water
all the time, and much less light.



From: Dennis Read
To: Orchid Talk List
Subject: Re: [OrchidTalk] More Bifrenaria pics
Date: Thu, 03 May 2007 19:25

Tricia, I thought that ' Boss ' Alan grew cool. Has he now invested in a heater or is he stpll growing cool.
Regards from a very sunny Devon.


From: Dennis Read
To: Orchid Talk List
Subject: Electricity
Date: Thu, 03 May 2007 20:00

This is only vaguely to do with orchids so if you object please just delete.
I have been contemplating using Solar powered Photo- Voltaic cells and in the processw I analysed a theoretical situation. Ina house to maintain a certain temperature there are 6 number 60Watt bulbs, a TV on standby and a computer on stand by and 1.5 KW of heat from an external source. Total power 1500 + 360 +2x20 1900 Watt.
To save on power you convert to energy saving bulbs to 6 of 10 watt saving 360 − 60 watt 300watt, switch the TV and computer stand byes off saving 40 watt. You have saved 340 watt but to maintain your temperature you need 1900 watt therefore your external source now needs to supply 1900 − 60 1840watt.which is an increase from the original1500 watt of 340 watt. Swings and roundabouts comes to mind.
Maybe this is why British Gas et al give, or sell cheap energy saving bulbs.
Or am I just a cynic past its sell by date.
Every thing you have saved by energy saving bulbs and switching off the TV and Computer Is obviated by the central heating keeping the set reduced temperature.
Being a total cynic I now see why central heating companies give bulbs away.
Am I correct ?


From: John Stanley
To: Orchid Talk List
Subject: Re: [OrchidTalk] Sea shells − and where do orchids get their nutrition ?
Date: Fri, 04 May 2007 00:45

Hi Geoff,
Receiving you cleary in Arial (Courier's gone.)

1. Not quite sure how to interpret your reference to Darwin but I have always referred to his Theory of Evolution and the strength it has over the opposing camps is precisely that it is a scientific theory and, as such, does not claim to be a final word. The advantage being that there is always room to accommodate new ideas, reject misconceptions and generally improve our knowledge through new discoveries. Consequently, the idea is not doctrinal and certainly many of its details details have changed since 1859 presentation but the core idea remains sound and, most important, useful in aiding the understanding of life.

2. Is Geoff's Law a variant of Murphy's or Sod's Laws?

3. In conclusion,back to Mg and Ca in the H2O and atmos.,I am prepared to accept your opinion that my car would not be whitewashed by the local pterosaurs if I parked it in my neighbourhood tropical forest. But iIt'd still be nice to know some quantitative recycling rates for these elements though.

Oh; just a last query; why is the size 8 Arial font in my reply about twice the size of the original emails at size 10 beneath? In the oft-quoted phrase of this forum; What's going on? (I know, I know . . . . Geoff's Law of ascending bubbly bubbles)


From: John Stanley
To: Orchid Talk List
Subject: Re: [OrchidTalk] Roots and sea shells
Date: Fri, 04 May 2007 00:50

Hi Dennis,
I've posted this a couple o' times (http://neon.otago.ac.nz/chemistry/research/mfc/pubs/atmosphere/halstead.pdf ). It isn't the whole anwswer but is very relevant and fills some of the holes in our knowledge.


From: Gordon Walker
To: Orchid Talk List
Subject: Re: [OrchidTalk] Roots and sea shells
Date: Fri, 04 May 2007 09:00

To someone like me and other non scientific orchid hobbyists on the list could someone please put the article referred to into understandable language?

John Stanley wrote:

> Hi Dennis, I've posted this a couple o' times
> (http://neon.otago.ac.nz/chemistry/research/mfc/pubs/atmosphere/halstead.pdf
> ).


From: Alan Garner
To: Orchid Talk List
Subject: bifrenaria
Date: Fri, 04 May 2007 09:30

You are right-I still grow cool! My bifrenaria grow in the same house as my
masdavallia,restrepia and pleurothallids.They grow in bark mix and are
disturbed as little as possible because they seem to take repots badly-this
one was last repotted in 2001! My other plant will probably perform better
than the one shown.They receive no special attention. I suspect that we all
have plants that thrive in our particular conditions-bifrenaria and
dendrobium kingianum are in that category for me. They grow like weeds and
the more they are neglected the more they seem to thrive!
From cloudy and hopefully soon to be wet Hampshire.




From: John Stanley
To: Orchid Talk List
Subject: Re: [OrchidTalk] Electricity
Date: Fri, 04 May 2007 10:10

I think the point(s) you make are as much to do with orchids and our collective lunacy in growing tropical plants in the UK! It seems to me that we have to consider what we do energy-wise. However, when you look at the compensating effects of central jeating after switching off the devices you mention you omit to note that some of the saved heat is probably where your central heating doesn't affect. Our collective electricity is carried by overhad heat radiating National Grid lines before it gets to the heat-generating cable in the garage. Only the last few metres give the central heating compensating work to do. However, you are probably of a similar vintage to me and must remember the days, before central heating, when that useful free warming device, the pullover, was called into use when the going got chilly!

When it comes to solar power, I keep promising myself I'll experiment with thermal panels (home made of course!) to deliver warmed water into our green house. However, as with so many other energy saving devices, the energy of manufacture (unless scrap is used) usually exceeds any savings in the short term. (I believe the energy needed to manufacture a (so called) economical car exceeds that contained in fuel to drive it 50,000 miles!)

An energy-conscious council near me collects plastic bottles. When residents complained that their bins weren't big enough it was suggested that if the bottles were warmed in hot water they could be flattened to a more compact shape. With wisdom like that who needs energy economies? Ah well, a nice day for the outdoor jaccuzi and the patio heater, and barbi and the floodlighting before power-mowing the lawn and power clipping the hedge. What was that about cynicism?

More to the orchidaceous point, has anyone got figures (that they dare publish) of how much added energy they use in maintaing their greenhouse? I would imagine a forum like this could collect a lot of useful data for assessment of the most energy efficient ways of doing the job.


From: Gordon Walker
To: Orchid Talk List
Subject: Energy
Date: Fri, 04 May 2007 12:30

I found that over the autumn -winter-spring quarters my electricity bill increased by over six hundred pounds compared to the previous year.
This was because I converted my garage into my orchid house. I did not have time to insulate, now having done so will compare the results.


From: Geoffrey Hands
To: Orchid Talk List
Subject: Re: [OrchidTalk] Sea shells − and where do orchids get their nutrition ? ... and some new orchid pics...
Date: Fri, 04 May 2007 14:05

Geoff's second law is that if it seems all wrong , you haven't had enough
bubbly − 'cos if you had, it wouldn't matter.

And so that I shall not be (again ?) condemned for wasting time and space, I
was going to upload a few pics anyway -

No.1 An orchid not often seen − Chamaeangis hildebrandtii − a Vandaceous,
or to be more specific an angraecoid miniature from Madagascar I think.
Hanging up in the roof it looked to have just the one spike . Brought down
to photograph a second is visible − in fact it had five spikes, mostly
trapped in the pot rim and coiled around. After having its picture taken, I
repotted it 2 cm higher, so that next year the spikes will trail over the
edge like the one spike does. An unusual colour I think, at this time of
the year if not at any time.

No 2 Ascocenda Chiang-mai Gold " Kultana Favorite"

No 3 the plain yellow form of Ascocentrum miniatum . I also have th more
usual light orange, and a very dark orange form, but they are not flowering
at the moment.

No 4 is ( provisionally) Nakamotoara Joyce Hands


John Stanley wrote:

> Is Geoff's Law a variant of Murphy's or Sod's Laws?


From: Geoffrey Hands
To: Orchid Talk List
Subject: Re: [OrchidTalk] Electricity
Date: Fri, 04 May 2007 14:15

Dennis , either you are too cynical , or I am too naïve.

Maybe a bit of both.

The cost would have come out of the advertising budget anyway , and would a
big business type, anxious to exploit the proles, have been scientific
enough to realize the implications ? Or is it that all big business types
can always do the sums where a profit is possible ?

You leave me a saddened, if wiser , man.



From: jns tropic
To: Orchid Talk List
Subject: Re: [OrchidTalk] Bifrenaria. Epidendrum/Encyclias/David Sander
Date: Fri, 04 May 2007 14:15

I have B. x David Sander and finally bloomed it last
month, after growing it for a many years. I put it in
full sun this year. I know about David Sander only as
a beautiful orchid. He is presently hidden in the
middle of my April page: http://togofcoralgables.com/FlowersofApril07.aspx


From: Geoffrey Hands
To: Orchid Talk List
Subject: Re: [OrchidTalk] bifrenaria
Date: Fri, 04 May 2007 14:20

Bifrenaria was surely considered to be a cool house orchid genus ?

( But I must confess that when running one temperature only − no second
greenhouse, no divisions- I ignore such concepts, and see whether I can grow
it, whatever the "considered opinion" ...


Alan Garner wrote:

> Dennis,
> You are right-I still grow cool!


From: Geoffrey Hands
To: Orchid Talk List
Subject: Re: [OrchidTalk] Roots and sea shells
Date: Fri, 04 May 2007 14:45

Since much of my life as a patent attorney was spent decoding the jargon of
experts, I had a go , and my version, with comments , appears below :-

Cadmium, Copper, Iron, Manganese, Lead , Zinc, Calcium, Magnesium. Sodium,
etc. were found in rainwater tested in a very remote spot in New Zealand ,
the object of the tests being to see how much metal arrives in the air.
Several showers/rainstorms were successively tested over a 2 year period,
using very careful procedures to avoid the possibility of external

The wind direction during the rainfall was noted ,and it was usually from
either Australia or from Antarctica ( other possible directions are from the
direction of the equator, or from the east − across the whole of the

The light metals − Calcium, Sodium and Magnesium all occurred together in
the same kind of relationship and were clearly coming from sea-salt. The
iron did not have a brine origin , although this could have been the source
of the Zinc.

The trace metals total was similar to what can be measured at most places
in the Southern hemisphere . The actual measurements varied from
time-to-time, and the lower figures seen on occasion are similar to the
levels seen in snow samples from Antarctica.

The actual amount collected from time-to-time varied very considerably − the
higher figures being hundreds of times as great as the lower figures, and
did not seem to be related to the wind speed at the time of the rain.

The actual contribution of elements from sea-water was negligible ( ed. Note
- not clear how this can be consistent with what is said above ! ) . The
Cadmium, Copper, Lead and Zinc traces are , tentatively , suggested to be
due to the activities of mankind , and this is especially true for the lead
content ( meaning lead from mining or manufacturing rather than from any
other possible source perhaps). Cadmium, Lead, Zinc and Hydrogen ions were
in similar proportions in all traces, indicating they came from a common

Iron and manganese were also related to one another and mainly came from
dust from the surface of the earth at some place.

Comments :

John evidently thinks (?) that this supports his view that rainwater is
enriched with nutrients which are likely to supply the needs of epiphytic
orchids , when the rain falls on them from a clear sky. However, whilst it
is true that green plants do need extremely minute quantities of (even)
heavy metals, and certainly macro quantities of certain light metals (
Magnesium and Calcium for example) I am not aware that they need lead or
cadmium , and in general heavy metals in more than trace quantity are poison
to green plants. But apart from that, plants need trace elements after
receiving the main NKP ( nitrogen, potassium and Phosphorus, and after
receiving the macro nutrients, etc.This report does not suggest that any of
the more important nutrients were present at all. Which leaves me remaining
of the belief that what orchids need ( being the same as what other green
plants need) orchids get from other green plants − in the manner I have



From: nancy
To: Orchid Talk List
Subject: Re: B. David Sander
Date: Fri, 04 May 2007 17:05

Hi JNStropic -
I saw one of these David Sanders in bloom at a show
last fall, and was really surprised at the size, both
of the plant and the flower − like a B. cucullata on
At that time, I realized that my seedling was far, far
from blooming size.
Can you tell me if it is fragrant? Both parents are
wonderfully scented; it would be tragic to lose the
perfume, though it seem to happen often.
Regards − Nancy
Blooming: B. digbyana, Enc. cordigera − both with new
names, but they smell just as good.


From: John Stanley
To: Orchid Talk List
Subject: Re: [OrchidTalk] Roots and sea shells
Date: Fri, 04 May 2007 21:15

Hi Geoff 'n' Uncle Tom Cobbly 'n' all,
"John thinks" it shows that there is more in the atmosphere, albeit sometimes in traces, than we usually imagine. Having forgotten the point at which I offered the reference, after a brief web search,I can't recall exactly which of Geoff's points I was sparring over. However, I did think it rather interesting that, like Geoff they referred to washing of the air but, unlike Geoff, even after they allowed the early rain to run off (thus cleaning the air of local pollutants), there was still enough there to be analysed. It is also interesting that the authors took pains to find a region where air was pretty clean and they did refer to differences between continents and oceans as pick-up areas.
I don't think I ever suggested that the atmosphere could supply all the necessary Ca and Mg or, indeed the whole meunu from Chopkin's Cafe!
I'm not really at war Geoff; just trying to satisfy myself of the validity or plausibility of various ideas. Like Manuelof Fawlty Towers, I know n-O-thing (although I've never been to Barcelona you know!).
Thanks for providing a resume (I did one in response to a request and although my emphasis was a bit different we cover the same points
If we've all learned as much as I in this exchange then we haven't wasted electrons, have we?

This is still in Arial 10 Geoff − as is apparently yours − curiouser and curiouser (Ah! that's it − you're down a rabbit 'ole!)

Geoffrey Hands wrote on Friday, May 04:

> Since much of my life as a patent attorney was spent decoding the
> jargon of experts, I had a go , and my version, with comments , appears
> below...


From: jns tropic
To: Orchid Talk List
Subject: Re: [OrchidTalk] RE: B. David Sander
Date: Sat, 05 May 2007 17:55

Nancy,I didn't notice any fragrance. It is in full
sun and surrounded by other orchids that were in
bloom. A flower must have a strong fragrance to be
noted. I just called the friend that has grown the
plant for 30 years and she didn't remember any fragrance.


From: Geoffrey Hands
To: Orchid Talk List
Subject: orchids in flower in the wild
Date: Sat, 05 May 2007 20:55

Those who get the OSGB journal will have just received a flyer from Peter
Williams ( Mae Tang Orchids) about his tours with some amazing pictures one
shows a colony of Paph villosum in the wild, in flower − about 15 flowers in
a patch hardly half a metre across and others showing a branch completely
covered with a white dendrobium , maybe infundibulum − perhaps a couple of
metres of branch shown, crowded with canes all in flower.

Makes me want to go , but I suspect a hard task in selling the idea to my
spouse, who has been there, done that , and has quite enough tee shirts
thank you.

But if you're not in that kind of situation − and want a link , try



From: Roger Grier
To: Orchid Talk List
Subject: Paph. villosum.
Date: Sun, 06 May 2007 11:20

Mornin' Geoff,

When I read your piece about the photo of Paph. villosum growing in the wild my ears pricked up straight away, so I had a look at the photo.

It did not show me what I was looking for, which was a close up of the type of terrain/soil, or whatever that the plant was growing in. Also I would have loved for Peter to just very carefully brushed away a little of the 'soil' to show some roots.

Do you think that you may be able to ask him if this is possible?



From: Ron Newstead
To: Orchid Talk List
Subject: Re: [OrchidTalk] orchids in flower in the wild
Date: Sun, 06 May 2007 13:45

I have done 2 tours organized by Peter Williams, the first one with Geoff
and Joyce and I thoroughly recommend Peter's tours.



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