The chances of Pam and me not buying anything at this year's Florafest flower and garden show at Kariong, near Gosford on the NSW Central Coast, were precisely zero. And so it came to pass that we have come home with some new babies to add to our plant collections. Considering the temptations on offer, we were very restrained I think. I bought one new plant, Pam bought five, but she has better taste than me.
They aren't very big, all tucking in behind the driver's seat on the way home. Two new little native orchids that will always be little native orchids. One little native orchid that could well grow into a monster rock orchid, if I play my cards right. Two new succulents for Succulent City. And one new bromeliad to increase that little collection. All very restrained. No trees, no shrubs, not even a bushy perennial or a food plant.
This is the little native orchid collection at the moment; only five pots and two in flower, the third about to flower and the others just babies.
This is one of the existing native orchids, in bloom now and with a delicious sweet scent as a bonus.
Our new additions are also scented, but the colours are white and a paler pink, different flower forms, too; good choices by Pam.
This might be the smallest of the three plants, but it has the potential to grow very large indeed over the next 10 years. It's a Dendrobium orchid, a native plant usually found near bushland streams and creeks. It produces long, spectacular sprays of many small golden or yellow orchids, each spray about 30cm (1 foot) or more in length. That's not going to happen soon, but with some good care over the next few years it's something to look forward to. And the plant label has one of those typically catchy orchid botanical names of Dendrobium speciosum var. grandiflora 'Mt Larcom Gold' x D. speciosum var. speciosum 'Windermere'. At Florafest, the sign said Dendrobium 'Gold' and that's what I'm sticking with.
Pam chose this bromeliad, with the odd name of 'Guz Belinda', to brighten up our brom collection, which so far has only three inmates, which definitely need some new, interesting company.
Always one with an eye for the weirdos when down at the succulent stands, Pammy couldn't resist this Euphorbia caput medusa (ie, 'head of Medusa', that snake-headed lady from Ancient Greek Mythology).
I am sure that the first photos sent back in 2455 from space explorers who were the first to discover forests on other planets will look like this. This is how Planet Zorg probably looks.
And if you think the Medusa head Euphorbia is weird, check out this one, which I think is a very peculiar type of Echeveria. I already have a short, squat Echeveria which looks like this thing. Oddly enough for a large garden show, where the expert stands are everywhere, the plant label just says 'succulent'. You'd think they'd screen the exhibitors at the gate and reject the fools which don't even know what they're selling, but with succulents maybe it's a case that hardly anyone actually knows what this is.
Hovering overhead in their spaceship on Planet Zorg, the explorers noticed an outcrop of what looked like a strange succulent plant, but when it scuttled away into the nearby forest they realised the alien inhabitants were very different from the Earthlings in the spaceship overhead.
The great thing about attending one of those big flower and garden shows is the chance to buy plants which no garden centre is likely to stock. (Modern garden centres are so incredibly limited in their plant ranges).
I can't say that all the specialists at Florafest and other shows offer bargains. In fact when you go price-comparison shopping, you soon realise that rip-offs and bargains are out there in equal numbers. It pays to do a good lap of any show before making your first purchase, or you could end up seeing a price tag of $4 on something, having already paid $12 for the identical item which you're carrying around. Really ruins a day's shopping, that does!
It's great fun going to a gardening show, though. I had a good day there working on the Burke's Backyard stand doing very little of any use for the cause as it turns out, but it was nice to talk to a wide variety of readers and to refresh my appreciation of what a huge, diverse bunch of people love gardening.