About Orchids eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 160 pages of information about About Orchids.
and “looking like masses of snow on the hill-side.”  Such descriptions are thrilling, but these gentlemen receive them placidly; they would like to know, perhaps, what is the reserve price on such fine things, and what the chance of growing them to a satisfactory result.  Dealers have a profound distrust of novelties, especially those of terrestrial genus; and their feeling is shared, for a like reason, by most who have large collections.  Mr. Burbidge estimates roughly that we have fifteen hundred to two thousand species and varieties of orchid in cultivation; a startling figure, which almost justifies the belief of those who hold that no others worth growing will be found in countries already explored.  But beyond question there are six times this number in existence, which collectors have not taken the trouble to gather.  The chances, therefore, are against any new thing.  Many species well known show slight differences of growth in different localities.  Upon the whole, regular orchidaceans prefer that some one else should try experiments, and would rather pay a good price, when assured that it is worth their while, than a few shillings when the only certainty is trouble and the strong probability is failure.  Mr. Wallace has nothing more to tell of the undiscovered country.  The Indians received him with composure, after he had struck up friendship with an old woman, and for the four days of his stay made themselves both useful and agreeable in their fashion.

The auctioneer has been chatting among his customers.  He feels an interest in his wares, as who would not that dealt in objects of the extremest beauty and fascination?  To him are consigned occasionally plants of unusual class, which the owner regards as unique, and expects to sell at the fanciest of prices.  Unique indeed they must be which can pass unchallenged the ordeal of those keen and learned eyes. Plumeria alba, for instance, may be laid before them, and by no inexperienced horticulturist, with such a “reserve” as befits one of the most exquisite flowers known, and the only specimen in England.  But a quiet smile goes round, and a gentleman present offers, in an audible whisper, to send in a dozen of that next week at a fraction of the price.  So pleasant chat goes on, until, at the stroke of half-past twelve, the auctioneer mounts his rostrum.  First to come before him are a hundred lots of Odontoglossum crispum Alexandrae, described as of “the very best type, and in splendid condition.”  For the latter point everyone present is able to judge, and for the former all are willing to accept the statements of vendors.  The glossy bulbs are clean as new pins, with the small “eye” just bursting among their roots; but nobody seems to want Odontoglossum Alexandrae in particular.  One neat little bunch is sold for 11s., which will surely bear a wreath of white flowers, splashed with red brown, in the spring—­perhaps two.  And then bidding ceases.  The auctioneer exclaims, “Does anybody want any crispums?” and instantly passes by the ninety-nine lots remaining.

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About Orchids from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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