There were no display tables at our May 2023 meeting, as we had all taken our plants in flower to the Suffolk Showground the previous evening to contribute to the set-up of our stand there. And it was well worth it – the stand was awarded a ‘Large Gold’!  Here’s a quick tour of the stand after completion of set-up:

Bill Gardiner won the David Barton Trophy for best plant on the stand, as judged by Laurence Hobbs, with his Masdevallia ignea – appropriately enough, the centrepiece of the display.

Back to the May meeting: instead of a visiting speaker, we took advantage of our affiliation with the Orchid Society of Great Britain (OSGB) to show one of their recorded talks – by Fred Clarke on the subject of Catasetums. These orchids come from the Americas and are found from Mexico down to Argentina. They like to grow on palm trees, which provide shade at mid-day, lots of air movement and lots of water channelled by the palm leaves.  They enjoy a monsoon climate, with cool dry winters and warm wet summers. Fred emphasised that in cultivation, we should keep them dry over winter and not water them until a substantial root system has developed – this is what they do in the wild, to be ready for the rainy season when it comes. They have male and female flowers, sometimes on the same spike.  The male flowers are showy, vary between species, and have a mechanism that violently attaches the pollinia to the euglossine bees that are the pollinators; the female flowers are all “green helmets”. Fred showed many glorious photographs of species and hybrids, and pointed out that these orchids are ideal to grow if you like to go away in winter as they need next to no care then!

Note: if you join the OSGB, you can get access to their recorded talks via the members’ area on their website.