I don’t really remember how my husband Tom and I got interested in orchids. Gardening was a hobby for both of us before we met. He was more interested in growing plants for food, and had a large vegetable garden in his backyard. I was interested in birds and butterflies although back then, I knew nothing about host plants and just thought I needed to provide pretty flowers.
Perhaps we were just looking for something to do one weekend and ended up at an orchid show in the area. We loved walking through those shows and seeing the amazing blooms that almost looked other-worldly. But since many of the orchids we loved were quite expensive, we started out by just buying some of the bare-rooted, tiny plants that most of the vendors sold for a few dollars in large bins. The bins were usually marked with the name and a photo of the flower that would result after years of care of those tiny plants and Tom would come home and diligently write down the names so he would know how to take care of them. I almost always chose something deep pink or purple but Tom went for some of the more extravagant varieties.
Tom had a green thumb when it came to any type of plant but he really took to the orchids. And like most green things, they thrived under his care.
When Tom died, I couldn’t keep up with all of his plants on our two acre property. The veggies were the first to go. And then, one by one, the miniature roses that he had nurtured for so long went to join him in heaven. But even with my neglect, most of the orchids survived, even if they didn’t thrive like they did when he was taking care of them.
There are several orchids in “our” collection that have never bloomed and it’s always pretty special for me when one of them does. The Denbrobiums and Phalaenopsis are beautiful, but their blooms are so common that they seem to almost thrive on neglect. But I don’t think that any of the Vandas that Tom brought home have ever bloomed…..until now.
I have one Vanda in the front yard that is a scraggly thing in a broken basket and a few weeks ago, it developed a bud. I’ve been watching the plant as more and more buds appeared, with a feeling of joyful anticipation, waiting to see what kind of flower Tom chose so many years ago.
Every day, the wonders I experience in my yard are a result of the life that Tom and I shared, immersed in our love of nature. The things we planted, the landscaping that we preserved and the nest boxes that we added all continue to nurture and attract the wildlife that has always been a special part of our property.
But the Vanda is different. For the first time, I am seeing the bloom on a plant that Tom picked out many years ago and it is very much as if he is still here, adding even more beauty to the yard….and to my life. With its deep orange and red hues, in contrast to the subtle pinks and purples that I always chose, it is definitely a gift from Tom.
Since I do almost nothing to care for my orchid collection, its pretty obvious to me that it is being nurtured from above and I can almost see Tom smiling about the beautiful new orchid we have in “our” collection. I am definitely feeling loved and blessed.
** From Tom’s notes, I believe the orchid is V. rasri gold X Acsda. Tubtim Velvet