The event: ORCHIDS with Christine Bartlett
Where: Vestry Hall, Marden
When: Tuesday 14th May 2019 at 7.30pm
Orchids are beautiful tropical plants which were once only available for wealthy people to buy – in Victorian times an orchid could cost the equivalent of £20,000. Nowadays, due to modern hybridising methods, Orchids are more affordable and many people like to give them as gifts or buy them as houseplants.
Christine Bartlett is an Orchid Enthusiast with a large collection of over 200 tropical orchids. She grows orchids both in the house and in the greenhouse. However, she always try to bring her orchids into the house when they are flowering because of the beautiful colours and shapes of orchid flowers – some also have a lovely fragrance.
She is Chairman of the South East Orchid Society in Ashford, Kent. Originally joining to learn more about orchids and meet other enthusiasts, now she is pleased to be able to pass on to others the knowledge she has learnt.
Christine started her collection of these exotic plants approx. 15 years ago. Apparently there are around 25,000 different varieties of orchid, but Christine’s talk concentrated on Phalanopsis, the most common type, found in the UK in supermarkets & garden centres.
Orchids were originally discovered in the early 1800s by William Swainson, a naturalist, and were grown by William Cattley, a horticulturalist. Botanist John Lindley began cataloguing them and in 1833 the Duke of Devonshire started a collection. They were very expensive then and were auctioned on the dockside to the highest bidder, often costing £20,000. Joseph Paxton, the head gardener at Chatsworth, built a glasshouse to keep them in and sent his staff to India to collect more specimens. These trips were halted after 2 gardeners died on an orchid hunt, so no further people undertook the journey. If new species were found by plant hunters, they could name them themselves. In time, many commercial orchid hunters jumped on the bandwagon and the craze really took off. Each genre needs to be cared for in a different way and the climate of the country they originate from is important in how to look after them.