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In My Bush House - April 2019

April 5, 2019

Some years ago in the mid ‘80’s when I was really struck with native orchids after attending an ANOS show at Mona Vale hall and seeing the arching spray of a Dendrobium speciosum var. speciosum ‘Charlie’, I had been hooked and I joined Manly Warringah Orchid Society. I was shortly thereafter dragged in by Brian Gerhard as the secretary to the society and remained as secretary for the next 18 years.


I had been enamored by Den. speciosum since the late ‘60’s when I used to visit my step-father in Bega and while fishing in the river in spring would see and smell the intoxicating fragrance of the rock lily’s along the banks.


Later when I had been involved with ANOS Warringah I was approached to see if I wanted to see Den. speciosum var. pedunculatum in the wild. How could I refuse?  And so began a pilgrimage to Queensland where we have been returning for the last 20 years. I have seen some amazing sights on those trips and other ventures throughout NSW in search of Den. speciosum.


For years that was my focus until the last 2 years when I realized I was neglecting the small native gems. Like Bulbophyllum macphersonii which this year has exploded with flowers. It’s not until I took some macro shots that I appreciated the unique structure of the flower. Who designed this, I asked? Also with my eyes opened after 18 years of only seeing Bulbophyllum sladeanum once I saw it twice in one day and recognized it immediately for what it was even though it was not in flower.

Bulbophyllum macphersonii


What was in flower was Sarcochilus serrulatus and what a beautiful sight I remember this from the very first trip, but is not often seen in flower when we went as often we were too early.


So currently it’s the little gems that are in flower Bulbophyllum macphersonii, Cadetia taylori that seems to spot flower throughout the year, and Dockrillia rigida. This was an enigma to me until last year when I realized that it didn’t require as much light as I thought. I had seen it in very exposed conditions previously and though that this was how it grew BUT it was looking very harsh. Then last year we saw lots of large specimens that were in shadier conditions 70% and they looked fabulous. Dockrillia rigida is in flower in the bushhouse and looking good. Another in flower again is Dockrillia cucumerina which will spot flower 2 to 3 times and Dockrillia wasselli is in flower for the second time.


With all the new growths coming there are a few thoughts; continue back on the fertilizer after the rain as you need to push those growth to the maximum. All the rain prevented fertilizing as it was silly to water when we had centimeters each week – this is where the use of slow release fertilizer comes into its own.


With the rain and humid conditions 2 dangers exist; rots due to fungal infections so you can use Eco fungicide. The second thing is its still warm and I have noticed some aphids persisting so check the new growth and keep them strong. Remember you do not have to ‘dose’ the plant just the new growths.


Happy gardening.

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