About Orchids eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 160 pages of information about About Orchids.
size—­a bad system, but they will allow no change.  It is evidently their interest to divide any “specimen” that will bear cutting up; if the fragments bleed to death, they have got their money meantime.  Then, the Manilla steamers call at Mindanao only once a month.  Three months are needed to get together plants enough to yield a fair profit.  At the end of that time a large proportion of those first gathered will certainly be doomed—­Vandas have no pseudo-bulbs to sustain their strength.  Steamers run from Manilla to Singapore every fortnight.  If the collector be fortunate he may light upon a captain willing to receive his packages; in that case he builds structures of bamboo on deck, and spends the next fortnight in watering, shading, and ventilating his precious trouvailles, alternately.  But captains willing to receive such freight must be waited for too often.  At Singapore it is necessary to make a final overhauling of the plants—­to their woeful diminution.  This done, troubles recommence.  Seldom will the captain of a mail steamer accept that miscellaneous cargo.  Happily, the time of year is, or ought to be, that season when tea-ships arrive at Singapore.  The collector may reasonably hope to secure a passage in one of these, which will carry him to England in thirty-five days or so.  If this state of things be pondered, even without allowance for accident, it will not seem surprising that V.  Sanderiana is a costly species.  The largest piece yet secured was bought by Sir Trevor Lawrence at auction for ninety guineas.  It had eight stems, the tallest four feet high.  No consignment has yet returned a profit, however.

The favoured home of Vandas is Java.  They are noble plants even when at rest, if perfect—­that is, clothed in their glossy, dark green leaves from base to crown.  If there be any age or any height at which the lower leaves fall of necessity, I have not been able to identify it.  In Mr. Sander’s collection, for instance, there is a giant plant of Vanda suavis, eleven growths, a small thicket, established in 1847.  The tallest stem measures fifteen feet, and every one of its leaves remain.  They fall off easily under bad treatment, but the mischief is reparable at a certain sacrifice.  The stem may be cut through and the crown replanted, with leaves perfect; but it will be so much shorter, of course.  The finest specimen I ever heard of is the V.  Lowii at Ferrieres, seat of Baron Alphonse de Rothschild, near Paris.  It fills the upper part of a large greenhouse, and year by year its twelve stems produce an indefinite number of spikes, eight to ten feet long, covered with thousands of yellow and brown blooms.[6] Vandas inhabit all the Malayan Archipelago; some are found even in India.  The superb V. teres comes from Sylhet; from Burmah also.  This might be called the floral cognizance of the house of Rothschild.  At Frankfort, Vienna, Ferrieres, and Gunnersbury little meadows of it are

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About Orchids from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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