Delicate design.
Delicate design. Yvonne Gardiner

Showtime for glorious orchids on the Gold Coast

THE day Christine Martin was given an orchid when she first came to Australia in 1980, it was the start of a lifelong fascination.

She still has that original orchid, and a collection of 2500 to 3000 to go with it in her Upper Coomera garden and shadehouses.

"I have five different groups of orchids. You have to decide what you like and what's easy for you to grow," Christine said.

"Orchids are the largest flowering genus and are found almost everywhere in the world. More than 800 species grow in Australia alone. When I came out to Australia, I was given an Australian native species. It was a king orchid, a Dendrobium speciosum."

Christine's knowledge of orchids grew through visiting shows and asking questions, reading books and searching the internet.

Now she hands on the benefits of that knowledge and experience to beginner orchid growers, through the South East Species Orchid Society and other groups.

"We want to spread the knowledge and help people to grow them," Christine said. It's a community and friendship thing. We do excursions and visit other people with orchid houses. You can start small, and you can start cheap - $20 to $30 for an orchid. If someone has an orchid that's not doing well, and they don't know what to do, bring it along to a show."

Christine, the society's treasurer, breeds and shows orchids, with her favourites being Tolumnias from the Caribbean islands.

They usually have flowers not more than 1cm in size and their colours range from white to brown, yellow to purple.

"I like all orchids - they fascinate you because they're so mystical," Christine said. "Most orchids here in Queensland, you can grow outside."

South East Species Orchid Society will hold a show and trade day on Saturday, August 11.

It's an open "species" show with plant sales and local vendors.

"With 'species', we're basically interested in the ones that originate in the bush. They have to be 'species', they can't be hybrid," Christine said. We also sell other orchids. We have very experienced people who go and speak all over the world. You meet a lot of people through orchids. Some members are young but, when they get older, they have more time to pursue their hobby a little bit more."

The Show and Trade Day runs from 9am to 4pm at Nerang Senior Citizens Centre, corner of Ferry and Mylor Sts, Nerang. Entry cost is $3.

Visitors can pick up an orchid to take home from one of the vendors, seek advice from society members, and buy the products they need to care for it.

The society meets every fourth Tuesday of the month at 7pm in the senior citizens centre.

Inquiries to Rod Moulden on (07) 5575 9851.


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