IN HIS BLOOD: Mingara Orchid Club's Steve Dunstan has been growing orchids for more than 30 years, having fallen in love with them as a child.
IN HIS BLOOD: Mingara Orchid Club's Steve Dunstan has been growing orchids for more than 30 years, having fallen in love with them as a child.

Mind and body bloom along with orchids

ORCHID growing is a meeting of mind and body.

Mingara Orchid Club's Steve Dunstan has been growing orchids for more than 30 years and said the attraction was keeping your brain busy, your body active and the reward of beautiful flowers.

"It's just a wonderful use of your time,” he said.

The club is hosting the 15th annual Mingara Orchid Fair and Show - the second largest show in NSW, involving five clubs and more than 20 vendors - on the weekend of June 24-25.

"The benefit of the combined fair and show is people can look at the show and see hundreds of orchids in flower, all named,” Steve said.

"They can jot down the ones they like and then wander out to the fair hall and ask the vendors if they have that orchid as a mature plant, a seedling, or in their nursery.

"Then they can go along to the potting demonstrations and learn how to look after orchids, ask any questions they have, or perhaps why something hasn't been working for them.”

The perception of orchids being delicate or difficult to grow, he said, was misplaced. Most newcomers actually kill their orchids with love ... and too much water.

Having grown up in Lismore on the NSW North Coast, Steve said orchids were in his blood, with natives growing naturally in the area.

But having retired about three years ago and with more time for his hobby, he has been studying to become an orchid judge, learning the various species and intricate names.

"It really keeps your brain going. There are new hybrids coming out all the time,” Steve said.

"But it's also something to physically get your hands into.”

Steve said many older people attended the event. In fact busloads of Seniors come from throughout the state.

But patience is needed as a grower.

While you can buy a plant in flower so you know exactly what you are getting, and learn how to keep it, a cheaper option is to buy a number of small tubes (50mm pots), tend them and wait for them to flower.

It can take 3-6 years, depending on the orchid type, before you see the fruits of your labour in a single flowering spike, which will then double or triple each successive year.

For those starting out, Steve suggested one of the new range of miniature cymbidiums, which have dozens of sprays of flowers but can be kept in small pots or hangers on balconies or courtyards.

The cattleya orchid is also very easy and rewarding to grow, but stay away from those phalaenopsis orchids that you see in supermarkets as they are not easy to keep alive and usually not for beginners.

The Mingara Orchid Fair and Show runs from 9am-5pm Saturday and 9am-3pm Sunday, June 24 and 25 at Mingara Recreation Club, Tumbi Umbi. For details call Steve on 0411149499.


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