Saturday, July 11, 2009

Classic orchid books

The other day I visited Steve Christoffersen. He is the man when it comes to Cattleya and Laelia plants. I wanted to know more about Laelia anceps varieties. After we talked he lent me some books.

This 1973 reprint of the 1894 classic is not especially about Laelia but has some wonderful illustrations and I have spent quite a bit of time reading it, particularly the "Mode of producing back growths" chapter.

The information and growing advice is very aplicable to present-day collecting. Orchids, after all, are the same as they were 115 years ago and by the time this book was written, orchid collecting was well established and much was known about them.

Written 30 years after Williams The Sanders Orchid Guide is meant to be an additional reference and not a replacement. There are about 30 pages of growing advice with the rest of the book lists of species with no illustrations. I found it far less useful than Williams. This book would be for a person interested in the historical progression of orchid culture. There is much better reference matial available on the internet or other books.

Laelias de Mexico is the book I had wanted to borrow. It has the minor challenge in that it is written in Spanish, but everybody in California can read a bit of Spanish and I know a native speaker who can help me.

In addition to Laelia anceps there is information about other Laelia species that I grow. But it is the anceps where I want to learn more details about the various varieties. My goal is to develop a visual image so that when someone talks about "Laelia anceps Sanderiana" I will have a reference point. I want to know WHY it is a Sanderiana.

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