Harriett M. Clarke, Contributor
My father loves flowers. He likes getting his hands dirty. He especially likes to plant and care for orchids. His specialty is in finding the perfect orchid or wild orchid (for those familiar with the movie), and setting them in unique potting structures so that their roots hang, and they give this unearthly look of swamp creatures coming to life with small teeth ready to bite.
Jamaican orchids are some of the loveliest and best, I believe in the region, and when stimulated by a loving and caring hand such as my dear Papa's, they thrive under any weather. The dendrobium, which is his favourite, he says, is hardier, yet seemingly delicate and lovely in their shades and blooms.
When he says it, I am tickled pink by my father's show of gentleness for his "plants of perfection" as he calls them. "These air plants," he rambles on, "do not require much care for their dainty appearance. All that is needed is a porus medium, such as charcoal, stones, coconut husk or dried wood or wood shavings."
So that his lovely ladies are not jealous, Dad will make it known to all that his phalaenopsis are to die for. In shades of white, he says, that's how he likes them because, apart from my mother, my father seems to have an ongoing love affair with these angels called moth orchids as they understand him and are the easiest of the orchid family to take care of. Hurray Mom!
They are long-lasting and can bloom for up to three months, and he beams with pride at their longevity. "If you can get them to bloom at least twice a year, you good," says Dad. "They are the most poised, and they have elegance in abundance." Talk about a man who knows his orchids!
Dad specifically told me that these little darlings only need normal lighting conditions to thrive and he loves to use wood as a perfect medium to support their tendrils of roots. Incidentally, I watch as Dad sprayed water on the roots of some he had just finished repotting. "It's that easy," he never fails to point out.
I thought caring for orchids was easier said than done and that my Dad just made it look simple, however, you can actually be bestowed with brown thumbs like myself (as I clearly did not inherit my Dad's green ones) and still care for and produce lovely orchid blooms just by exposing them to enough light, not too much light, sunlit shades, not dark and dank, and Dad always says, "It is very necessary to allow the medium to dry out first before replenishing with water, but please don't let them die of thirst!"