I’m delighted today to feature photographer Katie Spicer‘s beautiful images of this month’s Flower of the Month. Thank you so much to both Katie and Helen Cranmer of Helen Cranmer Floral Design for collaborating on this post.
I was so excited when Helen told me she wanted to use orchids in her design for Flower of the Month. I absolutely love orchids and their very efficient way of getting things done, all the while looking incredibly beautiful. As always on these shoots, I was wowed by her creations. The flowers and foliage Helen used were Vanda Hot Fuchsia, Astilbe, Cotinus, Pink Pepperberry, Eucalyptus populus berry (pink), Sedum, Phalaenopsis Golden Beauty, Mimosa, Achillea and Craspedia.
“I’ve always loved orchids for their bold colours and form. This year, they’ve been appearing on my radar frequently; Pantone announced the Radiant Orchid as one of its colours of 2014, the RHS Orchid Committee is celebrating its 125th Anniversary, and it has proven to be yet another year in which I can’t keep an orchid plant alive for more than a month (luckily, for my purposes, I prefer the cut variety). The many varieties of orchids excite me as I design; in this instance Phalaenopsis Golden Beauty was chosen for its warm, soft and gentle golden tones, while Vanda Hot Fuchsia added pattern and drama with its vibrant cool shade to the hanging floral arrangement.” Helen Cranmer
The alluring beauty of orchids is responsible for decades of obsession and devotion. There’s Michihiro Fukushima, the founder of Japanese Airlines. He cut all ties with his family and went off to set up an orchid farm! The orchid that started his love affair off was the Cattleya Queen Sirikit, a beautiful white orchid.
There was the inventor of Monopoly, Charles Darrow who retired at 46 so that he could devote himself to collecting and breeding wild orchids. Very nice too!
There are countless stories of collectors being killed or vanishing whilst hunting these amazing flowers down. One of the most recent and well-known cases is that of Tom Hart Dyke, who was kidnapped by terrorists, held hostage at gunpoint and kept captive for nine months in one of the most dangerous places in the world, the Darien Gap. All for the sake of his beloved orchids.
In Victorian times, tropical orchids were well sought after, much the same as today. Some collectors went to the tropics themselves but most paid professional plant hunters to travel and collect them. So, having tropical orchids in those days meant you were rich enough to pay a man to do something that might kill him.
Orchidaceae are one of the largest plant families, with over 25,000 species and more being discovered and created everyday. They are an incredibly diverse species and have adapted to and colonised nearly every climate in the world, except for Antarctica. They come in every possible colour except for true black.
They have also developed some highly specialised pollination systems. Some are self-pollinating but most rely on insects, and the deception of these insects into helping them reproduce. The reproductive parts of an orchid are designed to mimic the kind of insect they want to attract. Some even produce oils and hormones to entice them in. It is mostly young, inexperienced male bees that fall for this as they don’t actually know what a female bee really looks like yet, ahhhh!
Here are some other interesting facts about orchids for you. They have the smallest seeds in the world. You would need to put them under a microscope in order to see them. They have been around for a while…they outlived the dinosaurs. The name orchid derives from the Greek word for testicle. This refers to the underground bulbs as opposed to the flowers. And it also refers to the fact they are said to have aphrodisiac properties, on humans as well as bees! In the Middle East, they drink a tea called Salep, which is made from ground orchid tubers and has medicinal properties.
(Images : Katie Spicer Photography)