Friday, July 1, 2011

Orange You Beautiful?

 The orchid I bought Mom many years ago (probably the early 1990's) is in bloom again. Only this time it was I who saw the first bud and surprised Mom with it. She watches all of her plants like a hawk but the orchid, now on the outside porch for the summer, isn't as available to her view just now.

 There are four buds - one has already opened - and the splash of orange on our porch is gorgeous. The buds slide out of a leaf (almost in the same way a lipstick is unscrewed) and are of an almost mahogany color. As they unfold they lighten and take on a striking orange-red. The center is a brilliant, pure yellow.
 This plant spends each winter on our enclosed south porch and I don't think a batter place for plants was every developed. Even when the snow flies, it's a sort of greenhouse. In the basement the heat pump churns away. Heat rises up the steps and warms the porch. At night, though, on the coldest nights, the temperature dips into the mid-50's. This contrast is essential.
 I think those are perfect conditions for orchids. Though they seem a bit high-class, the orchid takes little care. Mom touches the soil to see if it is damp and only when it begins to dry does she add more. That takes about a week in winter months. In the summer, we add water when nature takes a break.

 You've seen this orchid many times on this blog but if you're like me, you'll never tire of the brilliant display. It blooms probably twice a year on average.
 There is a lesson in the orchid, I believe. There was never an uglier plant (some cactus's come close, however). It is all leaves, rubbery and blotched, and stems, bare and leggy. And yet when it sends forth a bloom, it proves the notion that the roughest exterior can contain the greatest beauty. Nature hides her greatest gifts and springs them on us with little notice.