We walked through an archway and knew we were about to look at some very special orchids, ‘built’ and named for some very special people.
Orchids have been associated with the Singapore Botanic Gardens from the time of its establishment in 1859. In the mid-1870’s, when H.J. Murton was the Superintendent, the Singapore Botanic Gardens began to cultivate orchid species in an Orchid House. The gardens quickly became an important source for species acquisition in the region. Regular exchanges took place with other botanic institutions throughout the world. When H.N. Ridley, a trained orchidologist, became the Director of the Gardens in 1888, he embarked on a concerted programme to develop the orchid collection.
Vanda Miss Joaquim
The Orchid family, Orchidaceae, is the largest family of flowering plants in the world. It is estimated that 20,000 to 25,000 or 10 per cent of all species of flowering plants are orchids. A typical orchid flower has three sepals and three petals. The sepals are usually of similar shape, but one petal is different from the other two petals. It is called labellum or lip. The lip is the landing platform for pollinating insects. Each orchid flower has an anther (male) and a stigma (female).
Stunning orchids, but how ???
Once the breeder has selected the parent plants, the pollinia of one parent (male) are inserted onto the stigma of the other parent (female). The pollinia of the receiving (female) parent are removed to prevent self pollination. After pollination the formation of a seed pod takes place. Capsules take between one month to over a year to mature. To germinate in nature, orchid seeds require the symbiotic presence of fungus to provide food. Orchid seeds can also germinate in a sterile medium in a flask with nutrients like sucrose, nitrate, phosphate and potassium. This has now become a routine method.
What a rewarding job. To date, the Gardens has registered more than five hundred hybrids.
Outstanding plants are mass produced through tissue culture. Bits of growing tissue (meristems) are taken from very young shoots. These are grown in flasks on a sterile medium with nutrients and plant hormones. Each meristem proliferates into numerous minute plantlets. These plantlets will grow into a large number of genetically identical plants (clones) and eventually they will be displayed in the National Orchid Garden. Time to look at some of the stars.
Dendrobium is one of the largest genera in the Orchidaceae, comprising more than 1,000 species. Species of Dendrobium are found throughout Southeast Asia, Southern China, Japan, Korea, India, Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands. This genus is one of the most popular genera in Singapore and the region. It produces pretty flowers which are diverse in colour and form. The plants are free-flowering and easy to grow.
Vandaceous species commonly used for breeding are from tropical Asia. These showy species are used to produce hybrids for landscaping, the cut-flower trade and as pot plants.
Baroness Thatcher and Nelson Mandela were presented with blooms.
William Catherine – our favourite, a jazzy little number.
I nipped back to take pictures of the VIP information boards because as we arrived a lady in a very big floppy hat had eclipsed one of them............ I returned to find this mad keen orchidologist champing at his enthusiastic best – so ready for the rest of the Botanic Garden............. How can anyone power nap so fast, I was only gone a few minutes....... Years of practice.
ALL IN ALL A SPECTACULAR GARDENING ACHIEVEMENT IN EACH NEW BLOOM
SO MANY DIFFERENT ORCHIDS CREATED FOR SO MANY PEOPLE