Howard Richards - budding orchid grower
Ocho Rios, St Ann:
At Couples San Souci, White River, St Ann, on Sunday, February 8, it was a day of beauty - of orchids and pretty classic cars. The occasion was the annual Ocho Rios Orchid Society show, dubbed Tropical Splendour this year.
Plants, crafts and cars were on display, giving patrons quite a treat, in addition to the food and refreshments on sale. At the end of the day, various prizes and awards were given to deserving participants in the orchid show. There were orchids from the Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, Mandeville and Kingston and St Andrew orchid societies.
There were some multiple winners, and, of course, there were disappointed growers and groomers. Among them could possibly be Howard Richards, who, despite getting two-first place and one second-place tags, didn't get any of the major awards. In his first year, last year, he did, in fact, win one, a big achievement for a first-timer. But what does it take to be an award-winning orchid grower?
Richards told Rural Xpress that taking care of orchids, which he loves, sometimes take too much out of him. You see, orchids are very delicate and sensitive plants, which have to be carefully nurtured when they are not grown in their natural ecosystems.
The amount of sunlight, water, the right temperature and the types of medium to which their roots are attached are very important. Of course, different species require different growing conditions. These are the things that Richards and the other growers must know.
The orchids that he grows actually belong to his employee Vasantha Wade, a member of the Ocho Rios Orchid Society. She was the one who showed him the 'works', so to speak. But now, under Wade's supervision, of course, Richards is an expert of sort, who said he treats the orchids if they were eggs and babies.
The 'babying' of these beautiful but delicate artwork of nature includes regular supplies of water, plant food, booster, etc. And when show time comes around they have to look very impressive. They require tedious cleaning, which Richards does with alcohol and cotton swabs, reaching way into leaf joints. The leaves must not be flaccid and dull.
Richards was not shy about what he thinks about his own orchids. "They look 20 times better than the others," he said, beaming with pride. He also said he has thoughts about having his own orchid farm one day. "I am doing my best and I love what I do," he told Rural Xpress.