My grandfather grew orchids. Or at least he tried to. Living as he did in Rochester, New York, his orchid garden was a light box in the basement. If he managed to make them bloom, I know it wasn't nearly as often as he would have liked.
When my father inherited the orchids and their setup, he didn't give them quite the attention that his father had, so it was not surprising that he had less success. He, too, lived in a climate unfriendly to orchids.
I lived for several years in the vicinity of the incredible Longwood Gardens, so it's not surprising that I've seen more than my share of orchids in bloom. I can't say that I understand the fascination they have for many people—Like Nero Wolfe. Their blooms are often bizarre, even macabre, in my eyes. But many are beautiful, and I confess to a special fondness for the vanilla orchid.
And for the blc copper queen.
It was blooming when Porter brought this plant home some four years ago. Despite a great deal of neglect, it steadfastly refused to die. There are advantages to living in a semi-tropical climate. But the orchid never bloomed again.
Until early this month, I noticed this:
Buds! And buds they stayed, growing ever so slowly.
Hurricane Matthew came, and we brought the plant into the garage for safekeeping. Both buds were as tightly closed as ever.
The next morning, the first blossom was in full, glorious flower.
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
This one, apparently, liked the ignominy of dangling from a bicycle hung from the ceiling in a corner of our garage. But we brought it in and gave it a place of honor in the house for several days, before returning it to the free air and sunshine of our back porch. By then, the second bloom was also in its glory.
As gardeners, we don't get any credit for these beautiful blooms, but I like to think my grandfather would have been pleased.