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Title: About Orchids - A Chat
Author: Boyle, Frederick, 1841-
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "About Orchids - A Chat" ***

by the Digital & Multimedia Center, Michigan State
University Libraries.)

Reduced to One Sixth.]


  _A CHAT_





  [_All rights reserved_]




  MY GARDENING                                   1

  AN ORCHID SALE                                24

  ORCHIDS                                       42

  COOL ORCHIDS                                  60

  WARM ORCHIDS                                 103

  HOT ORCHIDS                                  138

  THE LOST ORCHID                              173

  AN ORCHID FARM                               183

  ORCHIDS AND HYBRIDIZING                      210


  VANDA SANDERIANA                        _Frontispiece_


  ONCIDIUM MACRANTHUM                           88

  DENDROBIUM BRYMERIANUM                       127

  COELOGENE PANDURATA                          160

  CATTLEYA LABIATA                             173

  LOELIA ANCEPS SCHROEDERIANA                  197



The purport of this book is shown in the letter following which I
addressed to the editor of the _Daily News_ some months ago:--

"I thank you for reminding your readers, by reference to my humble work,
that the delight of growing orchids can be enjoyed by persons of very
modest fortune. To spread that knowledge is my contribution to
philanthropy, and I make bold to say that it ranks as high as some which
are commended from pulpits and platforms. For your leader-writer is
inexact, though complimentary, in assuming that any 'special genius'
enables me to cultivate orchids without more expense than other
greenhouse plants entail, or even without a gardener. I am happy to know
that scores of worthy gentlemen--ladies too--not more gifted than their
neighbours in any sense, find no greater difficulty. If the pleasure of
one of these be due to any writings of mine, I have wrought some good in
my generation."

With the same hope I have collected those writings, dispersed and buried
more or less in periodicals. The articles in this volume are
collected--with permission which I gratefully acknowledge--from _The
Standard_, _Saturday Review_, _St. James's Gazette_, _National Review_,
and _Longman's Magazine_. With some pride I discover, on reading them
again, that hardly a statement needs correction, for they contain many
statements, and some were published years ago. But in this, as in other
lore, a student still gathers facts. The essays have been brought up to
date by additions--in especial that upon "Hybridizing," a theme which
has not interested the great public hitherto, simply because the great
public knows nothing about it. There is not, in fact, so far as I am
aware, any general record of the amazing and delightful achievements
which have been made therein of late years. It does not fall within my
province to frame such a record. But at least any person who reads this
unscientific account, not daunted by the title, will understand the
fascination of the study.

These essays profess to be no more than chat of a literary man about
orchids. They contain a multitude of facts, told in some detail where
such attention seems necessary, which can only be found elsewhere in
baldest outline if found at all. Everything that relates to orchids has
a charm for me, and I have learned to hold it as an article of faith
that pursuits which interest one member of the cultured public will
interest all, if displayed clearly and pleasantly, in a form to catch
attention at the outset. Savants and professionals have kept the
delights of orchidology to themselves as yet. They smother them in
scientific treatises, or commit them to dry earth burial in gardening
books. Very few outsiders suspect that any amusement could be found
therein. Orchids are environed by mystery, pierced now and again by a
brief announcement that something with an incredible name has been sold
for a fabulous number of guineas; which passing glimpse into an unknown
world makes it more legendary than before. It is high time such noxious
superstitions were dispersed. Surely, I think, this volume will do the
good work--if the public will read it.

The illustrations are reduced from those delightful drawings by Mr. Moon
admired throughout the world in the pages of "Reichenbachia." The
licence to use them is one of many favours for which I am indebted to
the proprietors of that stately work.

I do not give detailed instructions for culture. No one could be more
firmly convinced that a treatise on that subject is needed, for no one
assuredly has learned, by more varied and disastrous experience, to see
the omissions of the text-books. They are written for the initiated,
though designed for the amateur. Naturally it is so. A man who has been
brought up to business can hardly resume the utter ignorance of the
neophyte. Unconsciously he will take a certain degree of knowledge for
granted, and he will neglect to enforce those elementary principles
which are most important of all. Nor is the writer of a gardening book
accustomed, as a rule, to marshal his facts in due order, to keep
proportion, to assure himself that his directions will be exactly
understood by those who know nothing.

The brief hints in "Reichenbachia" are admirable, but one does not
cheerfully refer to an authority in folio. Messrs. Veitch's "Manual of
Orchidaceous Plants" is a model of lucidity and a mine of information.
Repeated editions of Messrs. B.S. Williams' "Orchid Growers' Manual"
have proved its merit, and, upon the whole, I have no hesitation in
declaring that this is the most useful work which has come under my
notice. But they are all adapted for those who have passed the
elementary stage.

Thus, if I have introduced few remarks on culture, it is not because I
think them needless. The reason may be frankly confessed. I am not sure
that my time would be duly paid. If this little book should reach a
second edition, I will resume once more the ignorance that was mine
eight years ago, and as a fellow-novice tell the unskilled amateur how
to grow orchids.


North Lodge, Addiscombe, 1893.




The contents of my Bungalow gave material for some "Legends" which
perhaps are not yet universally forgotten. I have added few curiosities
to the list since that work was published. My days of travel seem to be
over; but in quitting that happiest way of life--not willingly--I have
had the luck to find another occupation not less interesting, and better
suited to grey hairs and stiffened limbs. This volume deals with the
appurtenances of my Bungalow, as one may say--the orchid-houses. But a
man who has almost forgotten what little knowledge he gathered in youth
about English plants does not readily turn to that higher branch of
horticulture. More ignorant even than others, he will cherish all the
superstitions and illusions which environ the orchid family.
Enlightenment is a slow process, and he will make many experiences
before perceiving his true bent. How I came to grow orchids will be told
in this first article.

The ground at my disposal is a quarter of an acre. From that tiny area
deduct the space occupied by my house, and it will be seen that myriads
of good people dwelling in the suburbs, whose garden, to put it
courteously, is not sung by poets, have as much land as I. The aspect is
due north--a grave disadvantage. Upon that side, from the house-wall to
the fence, I have forty-five feet, on the east fifty feet, on the south
sixty feet, on the west a mere _ruelle_. Almost every one who works out
these figures will laugh, and the remainder sneer. Here's a garden to
write about! That area might do for a tennis-court or for a general
meeting of Mr. Frederic Harrison's persuasion. You might kennel a pack
of hounds there, or beat a carpet, or assemble those members of the
cultured class who admire Mr. Gladstone. But grow flowers--roses--to cut
by the basketful, fruit to make jam for a jam-eating household the year
round, mushrooms, tomatoes, water-lilies, orchids; those Indian jugglers
who bring a mango-tree to perfection on your verandah in twenty minutes
might be able to do it, but not a consistent Christian. Nevertheless I
affirm that I have done all these things, and I shall even venture to
make other demands upon the public credulity.

When I first surveyed my garden sixteen years ago, a big Cupressus stood
before the front door, in a vast round bed one half of which would yield
no flowers at all, and the other half only spindlings. This was
encircled by a carriage-drive! A close row of limes, supported by more
Cupressus, overhung the palings all round; a dense little shrubbery hid
the back door; a weeping-ash, already tall and handsome, stood to
eastward. Curiously green and snug was the scene under these conditions,
rather like a forest glade; but if the space available be considered and
allowance be made for the shadow of all those trees, any tiro can
calculate the room left for grass and flowers--and the miserable
appearance of both. Beyond that dense little shrubbery the soil was
occupied with potatoes mostly, and a big enclosure for hens.

First I dug up the fine Cupressus. They told me such a big tree could
not possibly "move;" but it did, and it now fills an out-of-the-way
place as usefully as ornamentally. I suppressed the carriage-drive,
making a straight path broad enough for pedestrians only, and cut down a
number of the trees. The blessed sunlight recognized my garden once
more. Then I rooted out the shrubbery; did away with the fowl-house,
using its materials to build two little sheds against the back fence;
dug up the potato-garden--made _tabula rasa_, in fact; dismissed my
labourers, and considered. I meant to be my own gardener. But already,
sixteen years ago, I had a dislike of stooping. To kneel was almost as
wearisome. Therefore I adopted the system of raised beds--common enough.
Returning home, however, after a year's absence, I found my oak posts
decaying--unseasoned, doubtless, when put in. To prevent trouble of this
sort in future, I substituted drain-pipes set on end; the first of those
ideas which have won commendation from great authorities. Drain-pipes do
not encourage insects. Filled with earth, each bears a showy
plant--lobelia, pyrethrum, saxifrage, or what not, with the utmost
neatness, making a border; and they last eternally. But there was still
much stooping, of course, whilst I became more impatient of it. One day
a remedy flashed through my mind: that happy thought which became the
essence or principle of my gardening, and makes this account thereof
worth attention perhaps. Why not raise to a comfortable level all parts
of the area over which I had need to bend? Though no horticulturist,
perhaps, ever had such a thought before, expense was the sole objection
visible. Called away just then for another long absence, I gave orders
that no "dust" should leave the house; and found a monstrous heap on my
return. The road-contractors supplied "sweepings" at a shilling a load.
Beginning at the outskirts of my property, I raised a mound three feet
high and three feet broad, replanted the shrubs on the back edge, and
left a handsome border for flowers. So well this succeeded, so admirably
every plant throve in that compost, naturally drained and lifted to the
sunlight, that I enlarged my views.

The soil is gravel, peculiarly bad for roses; and at no distant day my
garden was a swamp, not unchronicled had we room to dwell on such
matters. The bit of lawn looked decent only at midsummer. I first
tackled the rose question. The bushes and standards, such as they were,
faced south, of course--that is, behind the house. A line of fruit-trees
there began to shade them grievously. Experts assured me that if I
raised a bank against these, of such a height as I proposed, they would
surely die; I paid no attention to the experts, nor did my fruit-trees.
The mound raised is, in fact, a crescent on the inner edge, thirty feet
broad, seventy feet between the horns, square at the back behind the
fruit-trees; a walk runs there, between it and the fence, and in the
narrow space on either hand I grow such herbs as one cannot easily
buy--chervil, chives, tarragon. Also I have beds of celeriac, and cold
frames which yield a few cucumbers in the summer when emptied of plants.
Not one inch of ground is lost in my garden.

The roses occupy this crescent. After sinking to its utmost now, the
bank stands two feet six inches above the gravel path. At that elevation
they defied the shadow for years, and for the most part they will
continue to do so as long as I feel any interest in their well-being.
But there is a space, the least important fortunately, where the shade,
growing year by year, has got the mastery. That space I have surrendered
frankly, covering it over with the charming saxifrage, _S. hypnoides_,
through which in spring push bluebells, primroses, and miscellaneous
bulbs, while the exquisite green carpet frames pots of scarlet geranium
and such bright flowers, movable at will. That saxifrage, indeed, is one
of my happiest devices. Finding that grass would not thrive upon the
steep bank of my mounds, I dotted them over with tufts of it, which have
spread, until at this time they are clothed in vivid green the year
round, and white as an untouched snowdrift in spring. Thus also the
foot-wide paths of my rose-beds are edged; and a neater or a lovelier
border could not be imagined.

With such a tiny space of ground the choice of roses is very important.
Hybrids take up too much room for general service. One must have a few
for colour; but the mass should be Teas, Noisettes, and, above all,
Bengals. This day, the second week in October, I can pick fifty roses;
and I expect to do so every morning till the end of the month in a sunny
autumn. They will be mostly Bengals; but there are two exquisite
varieties sold by Messrs. Paul--I forget which of them--nearly as free
flowering. These are Camoens and Mad. J. Messimy. They have a tint
unlike any other rose; they grow strongly for their class, and the bloom
is singularly graceful.

The tiny but vexatious lawn was next attacked. I stripped off the turf,
planted drain-pipes along the gravel walk, filled in with road-sweepings
to the level of their tops, and relaid the turf. It is now a little
picture of a lawn. Each drain-pipe was planted with a cutting of ivy,
which now form a beautiful evergreen roll beside the path. Thus as you
walk in my garden, everywhere the ground is more or less above its
natural level; raised so high here and there that you cannot look over
the plants which crown the summit. Any gardener at least will understand
how luxuriantly everything grows and flowers under such conditions.
Enthusiastic visitors declare that I have "scenery," and picturesque
effects, and delightful surprises, in my quarter-acre of ground!
Certainly I have flowers almost enough, and fruit, and perfect seclusion
also. Though there are houses all round within a few yards, you catch
but a glimpse of them at certain points while the trees are still
clothed. Those mounds are all the secret.


I was my own gardener, and sixteen years ago I knew nothing whatever of
the business. The process of education was almost as amusing as
expensive; but that fashion of humour is threadbare. In those early days
I would have none of your geraniums, hardy perennials, and such common
things. Diligently studying the "growers'" catalogues, I looked out,
not novelties alone, but curious novelties. Not one of them "did any
good" to the best of my recollection. Impatient and disgusted, I formed
several extraordinary projects to evade my ignorance of horticulture.
Among others which I recollect was an idea of growing bulbs the year
round! No trouble with bulbs! you just plant them and they do their
duty. A patient friend at Kew made me a list of genera and species
which, if all went well, should flower in succession. But there was a
woeful gap about midsummer--just the time when gardens ought to be
brightest. Still, I resolved to carry out the scheme, so far as it went,
and forwarded my list to Covent Garden for an estimate of the expense.
It amounted to some hundreds of pounds. So that notion fell through.

But the patient friend suggested something for which I still cherish his
memory. He pointed out that bulbs look very formal mostly, unless
planted in great quantities, as may be done with the cheap sorts--tulips
and such. An undergrowth of low brightly-coloured annuals would correct
this disadvantage. I caught the hint, and I profit by it to this more
enlightened day. Spring bulbs are still a _spécialité_ of my gardening.
I buy them fresh every autumn--but of Messrs. Protheroe and Morris, in
Cheapside; not at the dealers'. Thus they are comparatively inexpensive.
After planting my tulips, narcissus, and such tall things, however, I
clothe the beds with forget-me-not or _Silene pendula_, or both, which
keep them green through the winter and form a dense carpet in spring.
Through it the bulbs push, and both flower at the same time. Thus my
brilliant tulips, snowy narcissus poeticus, golden daffodils, rise above
and among a sheet of blue or pink--one or the other to match their
hue--and look infinitely more beautiful on that ground colour. I venture
to say, indeed, that no garden on earth can be more lovely than mine
while the forget-me-not and the bulbs are flowering together. This may
be a familiar practice, but I never met with it elsewhere.

Another wild scheme I recollect. Water-plants need no attention. The
most skilful horticulturist cannot improve, the most ignorant cannot
harm them. I seriously proposed to convert my lawn into a tank two feet
deep lined with Roman cement and warmed by a furnace, there to grow
tropical nymphæa, with a vague "et cetera." The idea was not so
absolutely mad as the unlearned may think, for two of my relatives were
first and second to flower _Victoria Regia_ in the open-air--but they
had more than a few feet of garden. The chances go, in fact, that it
would have been carried through had I been certain of remaining in
England for the time necessary. Meanwhile I constructed two big tanks of
wood lined with sheet-zinc, and a small one to stand on legs. The
experts were much amused. Neither fish nor plant, they said, could live
in a zinc vessel. They proved to be right in the former case, but
utterly wrong in the latter--which, you will observe, is their special
domain. I grew all manner of hardy nymphæa and aquatics for years, until
my big tanks sprung a leak. Having learned by that time the ABC, at
least, of _terra-firma_ gardening, I did not trouble to have them
mended. On the contrary, making more holes, I filled the centre with
Pampas grass and variegated Eulalias, set lady-grass and others round,
and bordered the whole with lobelia--renewing, in fact, somewhat of the
spring effect. Next year, however, I shall plant them with _Anomatheca
cruenta_--quaintest of flowering grasses, if a grass it must be called.
This charming species from South Africa is very little known; readers
who take the hint will be grateful to me. They will find it decidedly
expensive bought by the plant, as growers prefer to sell. But, with a
little pressing seed may be obtained, and it multiplies fast. I find
_Anomatheca cruenta_ hardy in my sheltered garden.

The small tank on legs still remains, and I cut a few _Nymphæa odorata_
every year. But it is mostly given up to _Aponogeton distachyon_--the
"Cape lily." They seed very freely in the open; and if this tank lay in
the ground, long since their exquisite white flowers, so strange in
shape and so powerful of scent, would have stood as thick as blades of
grass upon it--such a lovely sight as was beheld in the garden of the
late Mr. Harrison, at Shortlands. But being raised two feet or so, with
a current of air beneath, its contents are frozen to a solid block, soil
and all, again and again, each winter. That a Cape plant should survive
such treatment seems incredible--contrary to all the books. But my
established Aponogeton do somehow; only the seedlings perish. Here again
is a useful hint, I trust. But evidently it would be better, if
convenient, to take the bulbs indoors before frost sets in.

Having water thus at hand, it very soon occurred to me to make war upon
the slugs by propagating their natural enemies. Those banks and borders
of _Saxifraga hypnoides_, to which I referred formerly, exact some
precaution of the kind. Much as every one who sees admires them, the
slugs, no doubt, are more enthusiastic still. Therefore I do not
recommend that idea, unless it be supplemented by some effective method
of combating a grave disadvantage. My own may not commend itself to
every one. Each spring I entrust some casual little boy with a pail; he
brings it back full of frog-spawn and receives sixpence. I speculate
sometimes with complacency how many thousand of healthy and industrious
batrachians I have reared and turned out for the benefit of my
neighbours. Enough perhaps, but certainly no more, remain to serve
me--that I know because the slugs give very little trouble in spite of
the most favourable circumstances. You can always find frogs in my
garden by looking for them, but of the thousands hatched every year,
ninety-nine per cent. must vanish. Do blackbirds and thrushes eat young
frogs? They are strangely abundant with me. But those who cultivate
tadpoles must look over the breeding-pond from time to time. My whole
batch was devoured one year by "devils"--the larvæ of _Dytiscus
marginalis_, the Plunger beetle. I have benefited, or at least have
puzzled my neighbours also by introducing to them another sort of frog.
Three years ago I bought twenty-five Hyloe, the pretty green tree
species, to dwell in my Odontoglossum house and exterminate the
insects. Every ventilator there is covered with perforated zinc--to
prevent insects getting in; but, by some means approaching the
miraculous, all my Hyloe contrived to escape. Several were caught in
the garden and put back, but again they found their way to the open-air;
and presently my fruit-trees became vocal. So far, this is the
experience of every one, probably, who has tried to keep green frogs.
But in my case they survived two winters--one which everybody
recollects, the most severe of this generation. My frogs sang merrily
through the summer; but all in a neighbour's garden. I am not acquainted
with that family; but it is cheering to think how much innocent
diversion I have provided for its members.

Pleasant also it is, by the way, to vindicate the character of green
frogs. I never heard them spoken of by gardeners but with contempt. Not
only do they persist in escaping; more than that, they decline to catch
insects, sitting motionless all day long--pretty, if you like, but
useless. The fact is, that all these creatures are nocturnal of habit.
Very few men visit their orchid-houses at night, as I do constantly.
They would see the frogs active enough then, creeping with wondrous
dexterity among the leaves, and springing like a green flash upon their
prey. Naturally, therefore, they do not catch thrips or mealy-bug or
aphis; these are too small game for the midnight sports-man. Wood-lice,
centipedes, above all, cockroaches, those hideous and deadly foes of the
orchid, are their victims. All who can keep them safe should have green
frogs by the score in every house which they do not fumigate.

I have come to the orchids at last. It follows, indeed, almost of
necessity that a man who has travelled much, an enthusiast in
horticulture, should drift into that branch as years advance. Modesty
would be out of place here. I have had successes, and if it please
Heaven, I shall win more. But orchid culture is not to be dealt with at
the end of an article.


In the days of my apprenticeship I put up a big greenhouse: unable to
manage plants in the open-air, I expected to succeed with them under
unnatural conditions! These memories are strung together with the hope
of encouraging a forlorn and desperate amateur here or there; and surely
that confession will cheer him. However deep his ignorance, it could
not possibly be more finished than mine some dozen years ago; and yet I
may say, _Je suis arrivé_! What that greenhouse cost, "chilled
remembrance shudders" to recall; briefly, six times the amount, at
least, which I should find ample now. And it was all wrong when done;
not a trace of the original arrangement remains at this time, but there
are inherent defects. Nothing throve, of course--except the insects.
Mildew seized my roses as fast as I put them in; camellias dropped their
buds with rigid punctuality; azaleas were devoured by thrips; "bugs,"
mealy and scaly, gathered to the feast; geraniums and pelargoniums grew
like giants, but declined to flower. I consulted the local authority who
was responsible for the well-being of a dozen gardens in the
neighbourhood--an expert with a character to lose, from whom I bought
largely. Said he, after a thorough inspection: "This concrete floor
holds the water; you must have it swept carefully night and morning."
That worthy man had a large business. His advice was sought by scores of
neighbours like myself. And I tell the story as a warning; for he
represents no small section of his class. My plants wanted not less but
a great deal more water on that villainous concrete floor.

Despairing of horticulture indoors as out, I sometimes thought of
orchids. I had seen much of them in their native homes, both East and
West--enough to understand that their growth is governed by strict law.
Other plants--roses and so forth--are always playing tricks. They must
have this and that treatment at certain times, the nature of which could
not be precisely described, even if gardening books were written by men
used to carry all the points of a subject in their minds, and to express
exactly what they mean. Experience alone, of rather a dirty and
uninteresting class, will give the skill necessary for success. And then
they commit villanies of ingratitude beyond explanation. I knew that
orchids must be quite different. Each class demands certain conditions
as a preliminary: if none of them can be provided, it is a waste of
money to buy plants. But when the needful conditions are present, and
the poor things, thus relieved of a ceaseless preoccupation, can attend
to business, it follows like a mathematical demonstration that if you
treat them in such and such a way, such and such results will assuredly
ensue. I was not aware then that many defy the most patient analysis of
cause and effect. That knowledge is familiar now; but it does not touch
the argument. Those cases also are governed by rigid laws, which we do
not yet understand.

Therefore I perceived or suspected, at an early date, that orchid
culture is, as one may say, the natural province of an intelligent and
enthusiastic amateur who has not the technical skill required for
growing common plants. For it is brain-work--the other mechanical. But I
shared the popular notion--which seems so very absurd now--that they are
costly both to purchase and to keep: shared it so ingenuously that I
never thought to ask myself how or why they could be more expensive,
after the first outlay, than azaleas or gardenias. And meanwhile I was
laboriously and impatiently gathering some comprehension of the ordinary
plants. It was accident which broke the spell of ignorance. Visiting
Stevens' Auction Rooms one day to buy bulbs, I saw a _Cattleya Mossiæ_,
in bloom, which had not found a purchaser at the last orchid sale. A
lucky impulse tempted me to ask the price. "Four shillings," said the
invaluable Charles. I could not believe it--there must be a mistake: as
if Charles ever made a mistake in his life! When he repeated the price,
however, I seized that precious Cattleya, slapped down the money, and
fled with it along King Street, fearing pursuit. Since no one followed,
and Messrs. Stevens did not write within the next few days reclaiming
my treasure, I pondered the incident calmly. Perhaps they had been
selling bankrupt stock, and perhaps they often do so. Presently I

"Charles!" I said, "you sold me a _Cattleya Mossiæ_ the other day."

Charles, in shirt-sleeves of course, was analyzing and summing up half a
hundred loose sheets of figures, as calm and sure as a calculating
machine. "I know I did, sir," he replied, cheerfully.

"It was rather dear, wasn't it?" I said.

"That's your business, sir," he laughed.

"Could I often get an established plant of _Cattleya Mossiæ_ in flower
for 4s.?" I asked.

"Give me the order, and I'll supply as many as you are likely to want
within a month."

That was a revelation; and I tell the little story because I know it
will be a revelation to many others. People hear of great sums paid for
orchids, and they fancy that such represent only the extreme limits of
an average. In fact, they have no relation whatsoever to the ordinary
price. One of our largest general growers, who has but lately begun
cultivating those plants, tells me that half-a-crown is the utmost he
has paid for Cattleyas and Dendrobes, one shilling for Odontoglots and
Oncidiums. At these rates he has now a fine collection, many turning up
among the lot for which he asks, and gets, as many pounds as the pence
he gave. For such are imported, of course, and sold at auction as they
arrive. This is not an article on orchids, but on "My Gardening," or I
could tell some extraordinary tales. Briefly, I myself once bought a
case two feet long, a foot wide, half-full of Odontoglossums for 8s. 6d.
They were small bits, but perfect in condition. Of the fifty-three
pots they made, not one, I think, has been lost. I sold the less
valuable some years ago, when established and tested, at a fabulous
profit. Another time I bought three "strings" of _O. Alexandræ_, the
Pacho variety, which is finest, for 15s. They filled thirty-six pots,
some three to a pot, for I could not make room for them all singly.
Again--but this is enough. I only wish to demonstrate, for the service
of very small amateurs like myself, that costliness at least is no
obstacle if they have a fancy for this culture: unless, of course, they
demand wonders and "specimens."

That _Cattleya Mossiæ_, was my first orchid, bought in 1884. It dwindled
away, and many another followed it to limbo; but I knew enough, as has
been said, to feel neither surprised nor angry. First of all, it is
necessary to understand the general conditions, and to secure them.
Books give little help in this stage of education; they all lack detail
in the preliminaries. I had not the good fortune to come across a friend
or a gardener who grasped what was wrong until I found out for myself.
For instance, no one told me that the concrete flooring of my house was
a fatal error. When, a little disheartened, I made a new one, by glazing
that _ruelle_ mentioned in the preliminary survey of my garden, they
allowed me to repeat it. Ingenious were my contrivances to keep the air
moist, but none answered. It is not easy to find a material trim and
clean which can be laid over concrete, but unless one can discover such,
it is useless to grow orchids. I have no doubt that ninety-nine cases of
failure in a hundred among amateurs are due to an unsuitable flooring.
Glazed tiles, so common, are infinitely worst of all. May my experience
profit others in like case!

Looking over the trade list of a man who manufactures orchid-pots one
day, I observed, "Sea-sand for Garden Walks," and the preoccupation of
years was dissipated. Sea-sand will hold water, yet will keep a firm,
clean surface; it needs no rolling, does not show footprints nor muddy a
visitor's boots. By next evening the floors were covered therewith six
inches deep, and forthwith my orchids began to flourish--not only to
live. Long since, of course, I had provided a supply of water from the
main to each house for "damping down." All round them now a leaden pipe
was fixed, with pin-holes twelve inches apart, and a length of
indiarubber hose at the end to fix upon the "stand-pipe." Attaching
this, I turn the cock, and from each tiny hole spurts forth a jet, which
in ten minutes will lay the whole floor under water, and convert the
house into a shallow pond; but five minutes afterwards not a sign of the
deluge is visible. Then I felt the joys of orchid culture. Much remained
to learn--much still remains. We have some five thousand species in
cultivation, of which an alarming number demand some difference of
treatment if one would grow them to perfection. The amateur does not
easily collect nor remember all this, and he is apt to be daunted if he
inquire too deeply before "letting himself go." Such in especial I would
encourage. Perfection is always a noble aim; but orchids do not exact
it--far from that! The dear creatures will struggle to fulfil your
hopes, to correct your errors, with pathetic patience. Give them but a
chance, and they will await the progress of your education. That chance
lies, as has been said, in the general conditions--the degree of
moisture you can keep in the air, the ventilation, and the light. These
secured, you may turn up the books, consult the authorities, and
gradually accumulate the knowledge which will enable you to satisfy the
preferences of each class. So, in good time, you may enjoy such a thrill
of pleasure as I felt the other day when a great pundit was good enough
to pay me a call. He entered my tiny Odontoglossum house, looked round,
looked round again, and turned to me. "Sir," he said, "we don't call
this an amateur's collection!"

I have jotted down such hints of my experience as may be valuable to
others, who, as Juvenal put it, own but a single lizard's run of earth.
That space is enough to yield endless pleasure, amusement, and indeed
profit, if a man cultivate it himself. Enthusiast as I am, I would not
accept another foot of garden.[1]


[Footnote 1: It is not inappropriate to record that when these articles
were published in the _St. James' Gazette_, the editor received several
communications warning him that his contributor was abusing his good
faith--to put it in the mild French phrase. Happily, my friend was able
to reply that he could personally vouch for the statements.]


Shortly after noon on a sale day, the habitual customers of Messrs.
Protheroe and Morris begin to assemble in Cheapside. On tables of
roughest plank round the auction-rooms there, are neatly ranged the
various lots; bulbs and sticks of every shape, big and little, withered
or green, dull or shining, with a brown leaf here and there, or a mass
of roots dry as last year's bracken. No promise do they suggest of the
brilliant colours and strange forms buried in embryo within their
uncouth bulk. On a cross table stand some dozens of "established" plants
in pots and baskets, which the owners would like to part with. Their
growths of this year are verdant, but the old bulbs look almost as
sapless as those new arrivals. Very few are in flower just now--July
and August are a time of pause betwixt the glories of the Spring
and the milder effulgence of Autumn. Some great Dendrobes--_D.
Dalhousianum_--are bursting into untimely bloom, betraying to the
initiated that their "establishment" is little more than a phrase. Those
garlands of bud were conceived, so to speak, in Indian forests, have
lain dormant through the long voyage, and began to show a few days since
when restored to a congenial atmosphere. All our interest concentrates
in the unlovely things along the wall.

The habitual attendants at an auction-room are always somewhat of a
family party, but, as a rule, an ugly one. It is quite different with
the regular group of orchid-buyers. No black sheep there. A dispute is
the rarest of events, and when it happens everybody takes for granted
that the cause is a misunderstanding. The professional growers are men
of wealth, the amateurs men of standing at least. All know each other,
and a cheerful familiarity rules. We have a duke in person frequently,
who compares notes and asks a hint from the authorities around; some
clergymen; gentry of every rank; the recognized agents of great
cultivators, and, of course, the representatives of the large trading
firms. So narrow even yet is the circle of orchidaceans that almost all
the faces at a sale are recognized, and if one wish to learn the names,
somebody present can nearly always supply them. There is reason to hope
that this will not be the case much longer. As the mysteries and
superstitions environing the orchid are dispersed, our small and select
throng of buyers will be swamped, no doubt; and if a certain pleasing
feature of the business be lost, all who love the flower and their
fellow-men alike will cheerfully submit.

The talk is of orchids mostly, as these gentlemen stroll along the
tables, lifting a root and scrutinizing it with practised glance that
measures its vital strength in a second. But nurserymen take advantage
of the gathering to show any curious or striking flower they chance to
have at the moment. Mr. Bull's representative goes round, showing to one
and another the contents of a little box--a lovely bloom of
_Aristolochia elegans_, figured in dark red on white ground like a
sublime cretonne--and a new variety of Impatiens; he distributes the
latter presently, and gentlemen adorn their coats with the pale crimson

Excitement does not often run so high as in the times, which most of
those present can recall, when orchids common now were treasured by
millionaires. Steam, and the commercial enterprise it fosters, have so
multiplied our stocks, that shillings--or pence, often enough--represent
the guineas of twenty years back. There are many here, scarcely yet
grey, who could describe the scene when _Masdevallia Tovarensis_ first
covered the stages of an auction-room. Its dainty white flowers had been
known for several years. A resident in the German colony at Tovar, New
Granada, sent one plant to a friend at Manchester, by whom it was
divided. Each fragment brought a great sum, and the purchasers repeated
this operation as fast as their morsels grew. Thus a conventional price
was established--one guinea per leaf. Importers were few in those days,
and the number of Tovars in South America bewildered them. At length
Messrs. Sander got on the track, and commissioned Mr. Arnold to solve
the problem. Arnold was a man of great energy and warm temper. Legend
reports that he threw up the undertaking once because a gun offered him
was second-hand; his prudence was vindicated afterwards by the
misfortune of a _confrère_, poor Berggren, whose second-hand gun,
presented by a Belgian employer, burst at a critical moment and crippled
him for life. At the very moment of starting, Arnold had trouble with
the railway officials. He was taking a quantity of Sphagnum moss in
which to wrap the precious things, and they refused to let him carry it
by passenger train. The station-master at Waterloo had never felt the
atmosphere so warm, they say. In brief, this was a man who stood no

A young fellow-passenger showed much sympathy while the row went on, and
Arnold learned with pleasure that he also was bound for Caraccas. This
young man, whose name it is not worth while to cite, presented himself
as agent for a manufacturer of Birmingham goods. There was no need for
secrecy with a person of that sort. He questioned Arnold about orchids
with a blank but engaging ignorance of the subject, and before the
voyage was over he had learned all his friend's hopes and projects. But
the deception could not be maintained at Caraccas. There Arnold
discovered that the hardware agent was a collector and grower of orchids
sufficiently well known. He said nothing, suffered his rival to start,
overtook him at a village where the man was taking supper, marched in,
barred the door, sat down opposite, put a revolver on the table, and
invited him to draw. It should be a fair fight, said Arnold, but one of
the pair must die. So convinced was the traitor of his earnestness--with
good reason, too, as Arnold's acquaintances declare--that he slipped
under the table, and discussed terms of abject surrender from that
retreat. So, in due time, Messrs. Sander received more than forty
thousand plants of _Masdevallia Tovarensis_--sent them direct to the
auction-room--and drove down the price in one month from a guinea a leaf
to the fraction of a shilling.

Other great sales might be recalled, as that of _Phaloenopsis Sanderiana_
and _Vanda Sanderiana_, when a sum as yet unparalleled was taken in the
room; _Cypripedium Spicerianum_, _Cyp. Curtisii_, _Loelia anceps alba_.
Rarely now are we thrilled by sensations like these. But 1891 brought
two of the old-fashioned sort, the reappearance of _Cattleya labiata
autumnalis_ and the public sale of _Dendrobium phaloenopsis
Schroderianum_. The former event deserves a special article, "The Lost
Orchid;" but the latter also was most interesting. Messrs. Sander are
the heroes of both. _Dendrobium ph. Schroederianum_ was not quite a
novelty. The authorities of Kew obtained two plants from an island in
Australasia a good many years ago. They presented a piece to Mr. Lee of
Leatherhead, and another to Baron Schroeder; when Mr. Lee's grand
collection was dispersed, the Baron bought his plant also, for £35, and
thus possessed the only specimens in private hands. His name was given
to the species.

Under these conditions, the man lucky and enterprising enough to secure
a few cases of the Dendrobium might look for a grand return. It seemed
likely that New Guinea would prove to be its chief habitat, and thither
Mr. Micholitz was despatched. He found it without difficulty, and
collected a great number of plants. But then troubles began. The vessel
which took them aboard caught fire in port, and poor Micholitz escaped
with bare life. He telegraphed the disastrous news, "Ship burnt! What
do?" "Go back," replied his employer. "Too late. Rainy season," was the
answer. "Go back!" Mr. Sander repeated. Back he went.

This was in Dutch territory. "Well," writes Mr. Micholitz, "there is no
doubt these are the meanest people on earth. On my telling them that it
was very mean to demand anything from a shipwrecked man, they gave me
thirty per cent. deduction on my passage"--201 dollars instead of 280
dollars. However, he reached New Guinea once more and tried fresh
ground, having exhausted the former field. Again he found the
Dendrobiums, of better quality and in greater number than before. But
they were growing among bones and skeletons, in the graveyard of the
natives. Those people lay their dead in a slight coffin, which they
place upon the rocks just above high tide, a situation which the
Dendrobes love. Mr. Micholitz required all his tact and all his most
attractive presents before he could persuade the Papuans to let him even
approach. But brass wire proved irresistible. They not only suffered him
to disturb the bones of their ancestors, but even helped him to stow the
plunder. One condition they made: that a favourite idol should be packed
therewith; this admitted, they performed a war dance round the cases,
and assisted in transporting them. All went well this time, and in due
course the tables were loaded with thousands of a plant which, before
the consignment was announced, had been the special glory of a
collection which is among the richest of the universe.

There were two memorable items in this sale: the idol aforesaid and a
skull to which one of the Dendrobes had attached itself. Both were
exhibited as trophies and curiosities, not to be disposed of; but by
mistake, the idol was put up. It fetched only a trifle--quite as much as
it was worth, however. But Hon. Walter de Rothschild fancied it for his
museum, and on learning what had happened Mr. Sander begged the
purchaser to name his own price. That individual refused.

It was a great day indeed. Very many of the leading orchid-growers of
the world were present, and almost all had their gardeners or agents
there. Such success called rivals into the field, but New Guinea is a
perilous land to explore. Only last week we heard that Mr. White, of
Winchmore Hill, has perished in the search for _Dendrobium ph.

I mentioned the great sale of _Cyp. Curtisi_ just now. An odd little
story attaches to it. Mr. Curtis, now Director of the Botanic Gardens,
Penang, sent this plant home from Sumatra when travelling for Messrs.
Veitch, in 1882. The consignment was small, no more followed, and _Cyp.
Curtisi_ became a prize. Its habitat was unknown. Mr. Sander instructed
his collector to look for it. Five years the search lasted--with many
intermissions, of course, and many a success in discovering other fine
things. But Mr. Ericksson despaired at last. In one of his expeditions
to Sumatra he climbed a mountain--it has been observed before that one
must not ask details of locality when collecting orchid legends. So well
known is this mountain, however, that the Government, Dutch I presume,
has built a shelter for travellers upon it. There Mr. Ericksson put up
for the night. Several Europeans had inscribed their names upon the
wall, with reflections and sentiments, as is the wont of people who
climb mountains. Among these, by the morning light, Mr. Ericksson
perceived the sketch of a Cypripedium, as he lay upon his rugs. It
represented a green flower, white tipped, veined and spotted with
purple, purple of lip. "_Curtisi_, by Jove!" he cried, in his native
Swedish, and jumped up. No doubt of it! Beneath the drawing ran: "C.C.'s
contribution to the adornment of this house." Whipping out his pencil,
Mr. Ericksson wrote: "Contribution accepted. Cypripedium
collected!--C.E." But day by day he sought the plant in vain. His cases
filled with other treasures. But for the hope that sketch conveyed, long
since he would have left the spot. After all, Mr. Curtis might have
chosen the flower by mere chance to decorate the wall. The natives did
not know it. So orders were given to pack, and next day Mr. Ericksson
would have withdrawn. On the very evening, however, one of his men
brought in the flower. A curious story, if one think, but I am in a
position to guarantee its truth.

Of another class, but not less renowned in its way, was the sale of
March 11th last year. It had been heavily advertised. A leading
continental importer announced the discovery of a new Odontoglossum. No
less than six varieties of type were employed to call public attention
to its merits, and this was really no extravagant allowance under the
circumstances alleged. It was a "grand new species," destined to be a
"gem in the finest collections," a "favourite," the "most attractive of
plants." Its flowers were wholly "tinged with a most delicate mauve, the
base of the segment and the lip of a most charming violet"--in short, it
was "the blue Odontoglossum" and well deserved the title _coeleste_.
And the whole stock of two hundred plants would be offered to British
enthusiasm. No wonder the crowd was thick at Messrs. Protheroe's room on
that March morning. Few leading amateurs or growers who could not attend
in person were unrepresented. At the psychological moment, when
eagerness had reached the highest pitch, an orchid was brought in and
set before them. Those experienced persons glanced at it and said, "Very
nice, but haven't you an _Odontoglossum coeleste_ to show?" The
unhappy agent protested that this was the divine thing. No one would
believe at first; the joke was too good--to put it in that mild form.
When at length it became evident that this grand new species, heavenly
gem, &c., was the charming but familiar _Odontoglossum ramossissimum_,
such a tumult of laughter and indignation arose, that Messrs. Protheroe
quashed the sale. A few other instances of the kind might be given but
none so grand.

The special interest of the sale to us lies in some novelties collected
by Mr. Edward Wallace in parts unknown, and he is probably among us. Mr.
Wallace has no adventures in particular to relate this time, but he
tells, with due caution, where and how his treasures were gathered in
South America. There is a land which those who have geographical
knowledge sufficient may identify, surrounded by the territories of
Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, and Brazil. It is traversed by some
few Indian tribes, and no collector hitherto had penetrated it. Mr.
Wallace followed the central line of mountains from Colombia for a
hundred and fifty miles, passing a succession of rich valleys described
as the loveliest ever seen by this veteran young traveller, such as
would support myriads of cattle. League beyond league stretches the
"Pajadena grass," pasturage unequalled; but "the wild herds that never
knew a fold" are its only denizens. Here, on the mountain slopes, Mr.
Wallace found _Bletia Sherrattiana_, the white form, very rare; another
terrestrial orchid, unnamed and, as is thought, unknown, which sends up
a branching spike two feet to three feet high, bearing ten to twelve
flowers, of rich purple hue, in shape like a Sobralia, three and four
inches across; and yet another of the same family, growing on the rocks,
and "looking like masses of snow on the hill-side." Such descriptions
are thrilling, but these gentlemen receive them placidly; they would
like to know, perhaps, what is the reserve price on such fine things,
and what the chance of growing them to a satisfactory result. Dealers
have a profound distrust of novelties, especially those of terrestrial
genus; and their feeling is shared, for a like reason, by most who have
large collections. Mr. Burbidge estimates roughly that we have fifteen
hundred to two thousand species and varieties of orchid in cultivation;
a startling figure, which almost justifies the belief of those who hold
that no others worth growing will be found in countries already
explored. But beyond question there are six times this number in
existence, which collectors have not taken the trouble to gather. The
chances, therefore, are against any new thing. Many species well known
show slight differences of growth in different localities. Upon the
whole, regular orchidaceans prefer that some one else should try
experiments, and would rather pay a good price, when assured that it is
worth their while, than a few shillings when the only certainty is
trouble and the strong probability is failure. Mr. Wallace has nothing
more to tell of the undiscovered country. The Indians received him with
composure, after he had struck up friendship with an old woman, and for
the four days of his stay made themselves both useful and agreeable in
their fashion.

The auctioneer has been chatting among his customers. He feels an
interest in his wares, as who would not that dealt in objects of the
extremest beauty and fascination? To him are consigned occasionally
plants of unusual class, which the owner regards as unique, and expects
to sell at the fanciest of prices. Unique indeed they must be which can
pass unchallenged the ordeal of those keen and learned eyes. _Plumeria
alba_, for instance, may be laid before them, and by no inexperienced
horticulturist, with such a "reserve" as befits one of the most
exquisite flowers known, and the only specimen in England. But a quiet
smile goes round, and a gentleman present offers, in an audible whisper,
to send in a dozen of that next week at a fraction of the price. So
pleasant chat goes on, until, at the stroke of half-past twelve, the
auctioneer mounts his rostrum. First to come before him are a hundred
lots of _Odontoglossum crispum Alexandræ_, described as of "the very
best type, and in splendid condition." For the latter point everyone
present is able to judge, and for the former all are willing to accept
the statements of vendors. The glossy bulbs are clean as new pins, with
the small "eye" just bursting among their roots; but nobody seems to
want _Odontoglossum Alexandræ_ in particular. One neat little bunch is
sold for 11s., which will surely bear a wreath of white flowers,
splashed with red brown, in the spring--perhaps two. And then bidding
ceases. The auctioneer exclaims, "Does anybody want any _crispums_?" and
instantly passes by the ninety-nine lots remaining.

It would mislead the unlearned public, and would not greatly interest
them, to go through the catalogue of an orchid sale and quote the
selling price of every lot. From week to week the value of these things
fluctuates--that is, of course, of bulbs imported and unestablished.
Various circumstances effect it, but especially the time of year. They
sell best in spring, when they have months of light and sun before them,
in which to recover from the effects of a long voyage and uncomfortable
quarters. The buyer must make them grow strong before the dark days of
an English winter are upon him; and every month that passes weakens his
chance. In August it is already late; in September, the periodical
auctions ceased until lately. Some few consignments will be received,
detained by accident, or forwarded by persons who do not understand the

That instance of _Odontoglossum Alexandræ_ shows well enough the price
of orchids this month, and the omission of all that followed illustrates
it. The same lots would have been eagerly contested at twice the sum in
April. But those who want that queenliest of flowers may get it for
shillings at any time. The reputation of the importer, and his assurance
that the plants belong to the very best type, give these more value than
usual. He will try his luck once more perhaps this season; and then he
will pot the bulbs unsold to offer them as "established" next year.

_Oncidium luridum_ follows the Odontoglots, a broad-leaved, handsome
orchid, which the untrained eye might think to have no pseudo-bulb at
all. This species always commands a sale, if cheap, and ten shillings is
a reasonable figure for a piece of common size. If all go well, it may
throw out a branching spike six or seven feet long next summer,
with--such a sight has been offered--several hundred blooms, yellow,
brown and orange, _Oncidium juncifolium_, which comes next, is unknown
to us, and probably to others; no offer is made for its reed-like
growths described as "very free blooming all the year round, with small
yellow flowers." _Epidendrum bicornutum_, on the other hand, is very
well known and deeply admired, when seen; but this is an event too rare.
The description of its exquisite white blossoms, crimson spotted on the
lip, is still rather a legend than a matter of eye-witness. Somebody is
reported to have grown it for some years "like a cabbage;" but his
success was a mystery to himself. At Kew they find no trouble in certain
parts of a certain house. Most of these, however, are fine growths, and
the average price should be 12s. 6d. to 15s. Compare such figures with
those that ruled when the popular impression of the cost of orchids was
forming. I have none at hand which refer to the examples mentioned, but
in the cases following, one may safely reckon shillings at the present
day for pounds in 1846. That year, I perceive, such common species as
_Barkeria spectabilis_ fetched 5l. to 17l. each; _Epidendrum
Stamfordianum_, five guineas; _Dendrobium formosum_, fifteen guineas;
_Aerides maculosum_, _crispum_ and _odoratum_ 20l., 21l., and
16l., respectively. No one who understands orchids will believe that
the specimens which brought such monstrous prices were superior in any
respect to those we now receive, and he will be absolutely sure that
they were landed in much worse condition. But the average cost of the
most expensive at the present day might be 30s., and only a large
piece would fetch that sum. It is astonishing to me that so few people
grow orchids. Every modern book on gardening tells how five hundred
varieties at least, the freest to flower and assuredly as beautiful as
any, may be cultivated without heat for seven or eight months of the
year. It is those "legends," I have spoken of which deter the public
from entertaining the notion. An afternoon at an orchid sale would
dispel them.


There is no room to deal with this great subject historically,
scientifically, or even practically, in the space of a chapter. I am an
enthusiast, and I hold some strong views, but this is not the place to
urge them. It is my purpose to ramble on, following thoughts as they
arise, yet with a definite aim. The skilled reader will find nothing to
criticize, I hope, and the indifferent, something to amuse.

Those amiable theorists who believe that the resources of Nature, if
they be rightly searched, are able to supply every wholesome want the
fancy of man conceives, have a striking instance in the case of orchids.
At the beginning of this century, the science of floriculture, so far as
it went, was at least as advanced as now. Under many disadvantages which
we escape--the hot-air flue especially, and imperfect means of
ventilation--our fore-fathers grew the plants known to them quite as
well as we do. Many tricks have been discovered since, but for lasting
success assuredly our systems are no improvement. Men interested in such
matters began to long for fresh fields, and they knew where to look.
Linnæus had told them something of exotic orchids in 1763, though his
knowledge was gained through dried specimens and drawings. One bulb,
indeed--we spare the name--showed life on arrival, had been planted, and
had flowered thirty years before, as Mr. Castle shows. Thus
horticulturists became aware, just when the information was most
welcome, that a large family of plants unknown awaited their attention;
plants quite new, of strangest form, of mysterious habits, and beauty
incomparable. Their notions were vague as yet, but the fascination of
the subject grew from year to year. Whilst several hundred species were
described in books, the number in cultivation, including all those
gathered by Sir Joseph Banks, and our native kinds, was only fifty. Kew
boasted no more than one hundred and eighteen in 1813; amateurs still
watched in timid and breathless hope.

Gradually they came to see that the new field was open, and they entered
with a rush. In 1830 a number of collections still famous in the legends
of the mystery are found complete. At the Orchid Conference, Mr. O'Brien
expressed a "fear that we could not now match some of the specimens
mentioned at the exhibitions of the Horticultural Society in Chiswick
Gardens between 1835 and 1850;" and extracts which he gave from reports
confirm this suspicion. The number of species cultivated at that time
was comparatively small. People grew magnificent "specimens" in place of
many handsome pots. We read of things amazing to the experience of forty
years later. Among the contributions of Mrs. Lawrence, mother to our
"chief," Sir Trevor, was an Aerides with thirty to forty flower spikes;
a Cattleya with twenty spikes; an _Epidendrum bicornutum_, difficult to
keep alive, much more to bloom, until the last few years, with "many
spikes;" an Oncidium, "bearing a head of golden flowers four feet
across." Giants dwelt in our greenhouses then.

So the want of enthusiasts was satisfied. In 1852 Mr. B.S. Williams
could venture to publish "Orchids for the Million," a hand-book of
world-wide fame under the title it presently assumed, "The Orchid
Grower's Manual." An occupation or amusement the interest of which grows
year by year had been discovered. All who took trouble to examine found
proof visible that these masterworks of Nature could be transplanted and
could be made to flourish in our dull climate with a regularity and a
certainty unknown to them at home. The difficulties of their culture
were found to be a myth--we speak generally, and this point must be
mentioned again. The "Million" did not yet heed Mr. Williams'
invitation, but the Ten Thousand did, heartily.

I take it that orchids meet a craving of the cultured soul which began
to be felt at the moment when kindly powers provided means to satisfy
it. People of taste, unless I err, are tiring of those conventional
forms in which beauty has been presented in all past generations. It may
be an unhealthy sentiment, it may be absurd, but my experience is that
it exists and must be taken into account. A picture, a statue, a piece
of china, any work of art, is eternally the same, however charming. The
most one can do is to set it in different positions, different lights.
Théophile Gautier declared in a moment of frank impatience that if the
Transfiguration hung in his study, he would assuredly find blemishes
therein after awhile--quite fanciful and baseless, as he knew, but such,
nevertheless, as would drive him to distraction presently. I entertain a
notion, which may appear very odd to some, that Gautier's influence on
the æsthetic class of men has been more vigorous than that of any other
teacher; thousands who never read a line of his writing are
unconsciously inspired by him. The feeling that gave birth to his
protest nearly two generations since is in the air now. Those who own a
collection of art, those who have paid a great sum for pictures, will
not allow it, naturally. As a rule, indeed, a man looks at his fine
things no more than at his chairs and tables. But he who is best able to
appreciate good work, and loves it best when he sees it, is the one who
grows restless when it stands constantly before him.

"Oh, that those lips had language!" cried Cowper. "Oh, that those lovely
figures would combine anew--change their light--do anything, anything!"
cries the æsthete after awhile. "Oh, that the wind would rise upon that
glorious sea; the summer green would fade to autumn yellow; that night
would turn to day, clouds to sunshine, or sunshine to clouds." But the
_littera scripta manet_--the stroke of the brush is everlasting. Apollo
always bends the bow in marble. One may read a poem till it is known by
heart, and in another second the familiar words strike fresh upon the
ear. Painters lay a canvas aside, and presently come to it, as they say,
with a new eye; but a purchaser once seized with this desperate malady
has no such refuge. After putting his treasure away for years, at the
first glance all his satiety returns. I myself have diagnosed a case
where a fine drawing by Gerôme grew to be a veritable incubus. It is
understood that the market for pictures is falling yearly. I believe
that the growth of this dislike to the eternal stillness of a painted
scene is a chief cause of the disaster. It operates among the best class
of patrons.

For such men orchids are a blessed relief. Fancy has not conceived such
loveliness, complete all round, as theirs--form, colour, grace,
distribution, detail, and broad effect. Somewhere, years ago--in Italy
perhaps, but I think at the Taylor Institution, Oxford--I saw the
drawings made by Rafaelle for Leo X. of furniture and decoration in his
new palace; be it observed in parenthesis, that one who has not beheld
the master's work in this utilitarian style of art has but a limited
understanding of his supremacy. Among them were idealizations of
flowers, beautiful and marvellous as fairyland, but compared with the
glory divine that dwells in a garland of _Odontoglossum Alexandræ_,
artificial, earthy. Illustrations of my meaning are needless to experts,
and to others words convey no idea. But on the table before me now
stands a wreath of _Oncidium crispum_ which I cannot pass by. What
colourist would dare to mingle these lustrous browns with pale gold,
what master of form could shape the bold yet dainty waves and crisps and
curls in its broad petals, what human imagination could bend the
graceful curve, arrange the clustering masses of its bloom? All beauty
that the mind can hold is there--the quintessence of all charm and
fancy. Were I acquainted with an atheist who, by possibility, had brain
and feeling, I would set that spray before him and await reply. If
Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like a lily of the field, the
angels of heaven have no vesture more ethereal than the flower of the
orchid. Let us take breath.

Many persons indifferent to gardening--who are repelled, indeed, by its
prosaic accompaniments, the dirt, the manure, the formality, the spade,
the rake, and all that--love flowers nevertheless. For such these plants
are more than a relief. Observe my Oncidium. It stands in a pot, but
this is only for convenience--a receptacle filled with moss. The long
stem feathered with great blossoms springs from a bare slab of wood. No
mould nor peat surrounds it; there is absolutely nothing save the roots
that twine round their support, and the wire that sustains it in the
air. It asks no attention beyond its daily bath. From the day I tied it
on that block last year--reft from home and all its pleasures, bought
with paltry silver at Stevens' Auction Rooms--I have not touched it save
to dip and to replace it on its hook. When the flowers fade, thither it
will return, and grow and grow, please Heaven, until next summer it
rejoices me again; and so, year by year, till the wood rots. Then
carefully I shall transfer it to a larger perch and resume. Probably I
shall sever the bulbs without disturbing them, and in seasons following
two spikes will push--then three, then a number, multiplying and
multiplying when my remotest posterity is extinct. That is, so Nature
orders it; whether my descendants will be careful to allow her fair play
depends on circumstances over which I have not the least control.

For among their innumerable claims to a place apart among all things
created, orchids may boast immortality. Said Sir Trevor Lawrence, in the
speech which opened our famous Congress, 1885: "I do not see, in the
case of most of them, the least reason why they should ever die. The
parts of the orchideæ are annually reproduced in a great many instances,
and there is really no reason they should not live for ever unless, as
is generally the case with them in captivity, they be killed by errors
in cultivation." Sir Trevor was addressing an assemblage of
authorities--a parterre of kings in the empire of botany--or he might
have enlarged upon this text.

The epiphytal orchid, to speak generally, and to take the simple form,
is one body with several limbs, crowned by one head. Its circulation
pulsates through the whole, less and less vigorously, of course, in the
parts that have flowered, as the growing head leaves them behind. At
some age, no doubt, circulation fails altogether in those old limbs, but
experience does not tell me distinctly as yet in how long time the
worn-out bulbs of an Oncidium or a Cattleya, for example, would perish
by natural death. One may cut them off when apparently lifeless, even
beginning to rot, and under proper conditions--it may be a twelvemonth
after--a tiny green shoot will push from some "eye," withered and
invisible, that has slept for years, and begin existence on its own
account. Thus, I am not old enough as an orchidacean to judge through
how many seasons these plants will maintain a limb apparently
superfluous. Their charming disposition is characterized above all
things by caution and foresight. They keep as many strings to their bow,
as many shots in their locker, as may be, and they keep them as long as
possible. The tender young head may be nipped off by a thousand chances,
but such mishaps only rouse the indomitable thing to replace it with
two, or even more. Beings designed for immortality are hard to kill.

Among the gentle forms of intellectual excitement I know not one to
compare with the joy of restoring a neglected orchid to health. One may
buy such for coppers--rare species, too--of a size and a "potentiality"
of display which the dealers would estimate at as many pounds were they
in good condition on their shelves. I am avoiding names and details, but
it will be allowed me to say, in brief, that I myself have bought more
than twenty pots for five shillings at the auction-rooms, not twice nor
thrice either. One half of them were sick beyond recovery, some few had
been injured by accident, but by far the greater part were victims of
ignorance and ill-treatment which might still be redressed. Orchids tell
their own tale, whether of happiness or misery, in characters beyond
dispute. Mr. O'Brien alleged, indeed, before the grave and experienced
signors gathered in conference, that "like the domestic animals, they
soon find out when they are in hands that love them. With such a
guardian they seem to be happy, and to thrive, and to establish an
understanding, indicating to him their wants in many important matters
as plainly as though they could speak." And the laugh that followed this
statement was not derisive. He who glances at the endless tricks,
methods, and contrivances devised by one or other species to serve its
turn may well come to fancy that orchids are reasoning things.

At least, many keep the record of their history in form unmistakable.
Here is a Cattleya which I purchased last autumn, suspecting it to be
rare and valuable, though nameless; I paid rather less than one
shilling. The poor thing tells me that some cruel person bought it five
years ago--an imported piece, with two pseudo-bulbs. They still remain,
towering like columns of old-world glory above an area of shapeless
ruin. To speak in mere prose--though really the conceit is not
extravagant--these fine bulbs, grown in their native land, of course,
measure eight inches high by three-quarters of an inch diameter. In the
first season, that _malheureux_ reduced their progeny to a stature of
three and a half inches by the foot-rule; next season, to two inches;
the third, to an inch and a half. By this time the patient creature had
convinced itself that there was something radically wrong in the
circumstances attending its normal head, and tried a fresh departure
from the stock--a "back growth," as we call it, after the fashion I have
described. In the third year then, there were two heads. In the fourth
year, the chief of them had dwindled to less than one inch and the
thickness of a straw, while the second struggled into growth with pain
and difficulty, reached the size of a grain of wheat, and gave it up.
Needless to say that the wicked and unfortunate proprietor had not seen
trace of a bloom. Then at length, after five years' torment, he set it
free, and I took charge of the wretched sufferer. Forthwith he began to
show his gratitude, and at this moment--the summer but half through--his
leading head has regained all the strength lost in three years, while
the back growth, which seemed dead, outtops the best bulb my predecessor
could produce.

And I have perhaps a hundred in like case, cripples regaining activity,
victims rescued on their death-bed. If there be a placid joy in life
superior to mine, as I stroll through my houses of a morning, much
experience of the world in many lands and many circumstances has not
revealed it to me. And any of my readers can attain it, for--in no
conventional sense--I am my own gardener; that is to say, no male being
ever touches an orchid of mine.

One could hardly cite a stronger argument to demolish the superstitions
that still hang around this culture. If a busy man, journalist,
essayist, novelist, and miscellaneous _littérateur_, who lives by his
pen, can keep many hundreds of orchids in such health that he is proud
to show them to experts--with no help whatsoever beyond, in emergency,
that which ladies of his household, or a woman-servant give--if he can
do this, assuredly the pursuit demands little trouble and little
expense. I am not to lay down principles of cultivation here, but this
must be said: orchids are indifferent to detail. There lies a secret.
Secure the general conditions necessary for their well-doing, and they
will gratefully relieve you of further anxiety; neglect those general
conditions, and no care will reconcile them. The gentleman who reduced
my Cattleya to such straits gave himself vast pains, it is likely,
consulted no end of books, did all they recommend; and now declares that
orchids are unaccountable. It is just the reverse. No living things
follow with such obstinate obedience a few most simple laws; no machine
produces its result more certainly, if one comply with the rules of its

This is shown emphatically by those cases which we do not clearly
understand; I take for example the strangest, as is fitting. Some
irreverent zealots have hailed the Phaloenopsis as Queen of Flowers,
dethroning our venerable rose. I have not to consider the question of
allegiance, but decidedly this is, upon the whole, the most interesting
of all orchids in the cultivator's point of view. For there are some
genera and many species that refuse his attentions more or less
stubbornly--in fact, we do not yet know how to woo them. But the
Phaloenopsis is not among them. It gives no trouble in the great majority
of cases. For myself, I find it grow with the calm complacency of the
cabbage. Yet we are all aware that our success is accidental, in a
measure. The general conditions which it demands are fulfilled,
commonly, in any stove where East Indian plants flourish; but from time
to time we receive a vigorous hint that particular conditions, not
always forthcoming, are exacted by Phaloenopsis. Many legends on this
theme are current; I may cite two, notorious and easily verified. The
authorities at Kew determined to build a special house for the genus,
provided with every comfort which experience or scientific knowledge
could suggest. But when it was opened, six or eight years ago, not a
Phaloenopsis of all the many varieties would grow in it; after vain
efforts, Mr. Thiselton Dyer was obliged to seek another use for the
building, which is now employed to show plants in flower. Sir Trevor
Lawrence tells how he laid out six hundred pounds for the same object
with the same result. And yet one may safely reckon that this orchid
does admirably in nine well-managed stoves out of ten, and fairly in
nineteen out of twenty. Nevertheless, it is a maxim with growers that
Phaloenopsis should never be transferred from a situation where they are
doing well. Their hooks are sacred as that on which Horace suspended his
lyre. Nor could a reasonable man think this fancy extravagant, seeing
the evidence beyond dispute which warns us that their health is governed
by circumstances more delicate than we can analyze at present.

It would be wrong to leave the impression that orchid culture is
actually as facile as market gardening, but we may say that the
eccentricities of Phaloenopsis and the rest have no more practical
importance for the class I would persuade than have the terrors of the
deep for a Thames water-man. How many thousand householders about this
city have a "bit of glass" devoted to geraniums and fuchsias and the
like! They started with more ambitious views, but successive
disappointments have taught modesty, if not despair. The poor man now
contents himself with anything that will keep tolerably green and show
some spindling flower. The fact is, that hardy plants under glass
demand skilful treatment--all their surroundings are unnatural, and with
insect pest on one hand, mildew on the other, an amateur stands betwixt
the devil and the deep sea. Under those circumstances common plants
become really capricious--that is, being ruled by no principles easy to
grasp and immutable in operation, their discomfort shows itself in
perplexing forms. But such species of orchids as a poor man would think
of growing are incapable of pranks. For one shilling he can buy a manual
which will teach him what these species are, and most of the things
necessary for him to understand besides. An expenditure of five pounds
will set him up for life and beyond--since orchids are immortal. Nothing
else is needed save intelligence.

Not even heat, since his collection will be "cool" naturally; if frost
be excluded, that is enough. I should not have ventured to say this some
few years ago--before, in fact, I had visited St. Albans. But in the
cool house of that palace of enchantment with which Mr. Sander has
adorned the antique borough, before the heating arrangements were quite
complete though the shelves were occupied, often the glass would fall
very low into the thirties. I could never learn distinctly that mischief
followed, though Mr. Godseff did not like it at all. One who beheld the
sight when those fields of Odontoglossum burst into bloom might well
entertain a doubt whether improvement was possible. There is nothing to
approach it in this lower world. I cannot forbear to indicate one
picture in the grand gallery. Fancy a corridor four hundred feet long,
six wide, roofed with square baskets hanging from the glass as close as
they will fit. Suspend to each of these--how many hundreds or thousands
has never been computed--one or more garlands of snowy flowers, a
thicket overhead such as one might behold in a tropic forest, with
myriads of white butterflies clustering amongst the vines. But
imagination cannot bear mortal man thus far. "Upon the banks of
Paradise" those "twa clerks" may have seen the like; yet, had they done
so their hats would have been adorned not with "the birk," but with
plumes of _Odontoglossum citrosmum_.

I have but another word to say. If any of the class to whom I appeal
incline to let "I dare not wait upon I would," hear the experience of a
bold enthusiast, as recounted by Mr. Castle in his small brochure,
"Orchids." This gentleman had a fern-case outside his sitting-room
window, six feet long by three wide. He ran pipes through it, warmed
presumably by gas. More ambitious than I venture to recommend, "in this
miniature structure," says Mr. Castle, "with liberal supplies of water,
the owner succeeded in growing, in a smoky district of London"--I will
not quote the amazing list of fine things, but it numbers twenty-five
species, all the most delicate and beautiful of the stove kinds. If so
much could be done under such circumstances, what may rightly be called
difficult in the cultivation of orchids?


This is a subject which would interest every cultured reader, I believe,
every householder at least, if he could be brought to understand that it
lies well within the range of his practical concerns. But the public has
still to be persuaded. It seems strange to the expert that delusions
should prevail when orchids are so common and so much talked of; but I
know by experience that the majority of people, even among those who
love their garden, regard them as fantastic and mysterious creations,
designed, to all seeming, for the greater glory of pedants and
millionaires. I try to do my little part, as occasion serves, in
correcting this popular error, and spreading a knowledge of the facts.
It is no less than a duty. If every human being should do what he can to
promote the general happiness, it would be downright wicked to leave
one's fellow-men under the influence of hallucinations that debar them
from the most charming of quiet pleasures. I suspect also that the
misapprehension of the public is largely due to the conduct of experts
in the past. It was a rule with growers formerly, avowed among
themselves, to keep their little secrets. When Mr. B.S. Williams
published the first edition of his excellent book forty years ago, he
fluttered his colleagues sadly. The plain truth is that no class of
plant can be cultivated so easily, as none are so certain to repay the
trouble, as the Cool Orchids.

Nearly all the genera of this enormous family have species which grow in
a temperate climate, if not in the temperate zone. At this moment, in
fact, I recall but two exceptions, Vanda and Phaloenopsis. Many more
there are, of course--half a dozen have occurred to me while I wrote the
last six words--but in the small space at command I must cling to
generalities. We have at least a hundred genera which will flourish
anywhere if the frost be excluded; and as for species, a list of two
thousand would not exhaust them probably. But a reasonable man may
content himself with the great classes of Odontoglossum, Oncidium,
Cypripedium, and Lycaste; among the varieties of these, which no one has
ventured to calculate perhaps, he may spend a happy existence. They have
every charm--foliage always green, a graceful habit, flowers that rank
among the master works of Nature. The poor man who succeeds with them
in his modest "bit of glass" has no cause to envy Dives his flaunting
Cattleyas and "fox-brush" Aerides. I should like to publish it in
capitals--that nine in ten of those suburban householders who read this
book may grow the loveliest of orchids if they can find courage to try.

Odontoglossums stand first, of course--I know not where to begin the
list of their supreme merits. It will seem perhaps a striking advantage
to many that they burst into flower at any time, as they chance to
ripen. I think that the very perfection of culture is discounted
somewhat in this instance. The gardener who keeps his plants at the _ne
plus ultra_ stage brings them all into bloom within the space of a few
weeks. Thus in the great collections there is such a show during April,
May, and June as the Gardens of Paradise could not excel, and hardly a
spike in the cool houses for the rest of the year. At a large
establishment this signifies nothing; when the Odontoglossums go off
other things "come on" with equal regularity. But the amateur, with his
limited assortment, misses every bloom. He has no need for anxiety with
this genus. It is their instinct to flower in spring, of course, but
they are not pedantic about it in the least. Some tiny detail overlooked
here and there, absolutely unimportant to health, will retard
florescence. It might very well happen that the owner of a dozen pots
had one blooming every month successively. And that would mean two
spikes open, for, with care, most Odontoglossums last above four weeks.

Another virtue, shared by others of the cool class in some degree, is
their habit of growing in winter. They take no "rest;" all the year
round their young bulbs are swelling, graceful foliage lengthening,
roots pushing, until the spike demands a concentration of all their
energy. But winter is the most important time. I think any man will see
the peculiar blessing of this arrangement. It gives interest to the long
dull days, when other plant life is at a standstill. It furnishes
material for cheering meditations on a Sunday morning--is that a trifle?
And at this season the pursuit is joy unmixed. We feel no anxious
questionings, as we go about our daily business, whether the _placens
uxor_ forgot to remind Mary, when she went out, to pull the blinds down;
whether Mary followed the instructions if given; whether those
confounded patent ventilators have snapped to again. Green fly does not
harass us. One syringing a day, and one watering per week suffice. Truly
these are not grave things, but the issue at stake is precious: we
enjoy the boon of relief proportionately.

Very few of those who grow Odontoglossums know much about the "Trade,"
or care, seemingly. It is a curious subject, however. The genus is
American exclusively. It ranges over the continent from the northern
frontier of Mexico to the southern frontier of Peru, excepting, to speak
roughly, the empire of Brazil. This limitation is odd. It cannot be due
to temperature simply, for, upon the one hand, we receive Sophronitis, a
very cool genus, from Brazil, and several of the coolest Cattleyas; upon
the other, _Odontoglossum Roezlii_, a very hot species, and _O.
vexillarium_, most decidedly warm, flourish up to the boundary. Why
these should not step across, even if their mountain sisters refuse
companionship with the Sophronitis, is a puzzle. Elsewhere, however,
they abound. Collectors distinctly foresee the time when all the
districts they have "worked" up to this will be exhausted. But South
America contains a prodigious number of square miles, and a day's march
from the track carries one into _terra incognita_. Still, the end will
come. The English demand has stripped whole provinces, and now all the
civilized world is entering into competition. We are sadly assured that
Odontoglossums carried off will not be replaced for centuries. Most
other genera of orchid propagate so freely that wholesale depredations
are made good in very few years. For reasons beyond our comprehension as
yet, the Odontoglossum stands in different case. No one in England has
raised a plant from seed--that we may venture to say definitely. Mr.
Cookson and Mr. Veitch, perhaps others also, have obtained living germs,
but they died incontinently. Frenchmen, aided by the climate, have been
rather more successful. MM. Bleu and Moreau have both flowered seedling
Odontoglots. M. Jacob, who takes charge of M. Edmund de Rothschild's
orchids at Armainvilliers, has a considerable number of young plants.
The reluctance of Odontoglots to propagate is regarded as strange; it
supplies a constant theme for discussion among orchidologists. But I
think that if we look more closely it appears consistent with other
facts known. For among importations of every genus but this--and
Cypripedium--a plant bearing its seed-capsules is frequently discovered;
but I cannot hear of such an incident in the case of Odontoglossums.
They have been arriving in scores of thousands, year by year, for half a
century almost, and scarcely anyone recollects observing a seed-capsule.
This shows how rarely they fertilize in their native home. When that
event happens, the Odontoglossum is yet more prolific than most, and the
germs, of course, are not so delicate under their natural conditions.
But the moral to be drawn is that a country once stripped will not be

I interpolate here a profound observation of Mr. Roezl. That wonderful
man remarked that Odontoglossums grow upon branches thirty feet above
the ground. It is rare to find them at thirty-five feet, rarer at
twenty-five; at greater and less heights they do not exist. Here,
doubtless, we have the secret of their reluctance to fertilize; but I
will offer no comments, because the more one reflects the more puzzling
it becomes. Evidently the seed must be carried above and must fall below
that limit, under circumstances which, to our apprehension, seem just as
favourable as those at the altitude of thirty feet. But they do not
germinate. Upon the other hand, Odontoglossums show no such daintiness
of growth in our houses. They flourish at any height, if the general
conditions be suitable. Mr. Roezl discovered a secret nevertheless, and
in good time we shall learn further.

To the Royal Horticultural Society of England belongs the honour of
first importing orchids methodically and scientifically. Messrs. Weir
and Fortune, I believe, were their earliest employés. Another was
Theodor Hartweg, who discovered _Odontoglossum crispum Alexandræ_ in
1842; but he sent home only dried specimens. From these Lindley
described and classed the plant, aided by the sketch of a Spanish or
Peruvian artist, Tagala. A very curious mistake Lindley fell into on
either point. The scientific error does not concern us, but he
represented the colouring of the flower as yellow with a purple centre.
So Tagala painted it, and his drawing survives. It is an odd little
story. He certainly had Hartweg's bloom before him, and that certainly
was white. But then again yellow Alexandræs have been found since that
day. To the Horticultural Society we are indebted, not alone for the
discovery of this wonder, but also for its introduction. John Weir was
travelling for them when he sent living specimens in 1862. It is not
surprising that botanists thought it new after what has been said. As
such Mr. Bateman named it after the young Princess of Wales--a choice
most appropriate in every way.

Flower reduced to One Fourth
Flower Stem to One Sixth]

Then a few wealthy amateurs took up the business of importation, such as
the Duke of Devonshire. But "the Trade" came to see presently that there
was money in this new fashion, and imported so vigorously that the
Society found its exertions needless. Messrs. Rollisson of Tooting,
Messrs. Veitch of Chelsea, and Messrs. Low of Clapton distinguished
themselves from the outset. Of these three firms one is extinct; the
second has taken up, and made its own, the fascinating study of
hybridization among orchids; the third still perseveres. Twenty years
ago, nearly all the great nurserymen in London used to send out their
travellers; but they have mostly dropped the practice. Correspondents
forward a shipment from time to time. The expenses of the collector are
heavy, even if he draw no more than his due--and the temptation to make
up a fancy bill cannot be resisted by some weak mortals. Then, grave
losses are always probable--in the case of South American importations,
certain. It has happened not once but a hundred times that the toil of
months, the dangers, the sufferings, and the hard money expended go to
absolute waste. Twenty or thirty thousand plants or more an honest man
collects, brings down from the mountains or the forests, packs
carefully, and ships. The freight alone may reach from three to eight
hundred pounds--I have personally known instances when it exceeded five
hundred. The cases arrive in England--and not a living thing therein! A
steamship company may reduce its charge under such circumstances, but
again and again it will happen that the speculator stands out of a
thousand pounds clean when his boxes are opened. He may hope to recover
it on the next cargo, but that is still a question of luck. No wonder
that men whose business is not confined to orchids withdrew from the
risks of importation, returning to roses and lilies and daffodowndillies
with a new enthusiasm.

There is another point also, which has varying force with different
characters. The loss of life among those men who "go out collecting" has
been greater proportionately, than in any class of which I have heard.
In former times, at least, they were chosen haphazard, among intelligent
and trustworthy employés of the firm. Trustworthiness was a grand point,
for reasons hinted. The honest youth, not very strong perhaps in an
English climate, went bravely forth into the unhealthiest parts of
unhealthy lands, where food is very scarce, and very, very rough; where
he was wet through day after day, for weeks at a time; where "the
fever," of varied sort, comes as regularly as Sunday; where from month
to month he found no one with whom to exchange a word. I could make out
a startling list of the martyrs of orchidology. Among Mr. Sander's
collectors alone, Falkenberg perished at Panama, Klaboch in Mexico,
Endres at Rio Hacha, Wallis in Ecuador, Schroeder in Sierra Leone,
Arnold on the Orinoco, Digance in Brazil, Brown in Madagascar. Sir
Trevor Lawrence mentions a case where the zealous explorer "waded for a
fortnight up to his middle in mud," searching for a plant he had heard
of. I have not identified this instance of devotion, but we know of
rarities which would demand perseverance and sufferings almost equal to
secure them. If employers could find the heart to tempt a
fellow-creature into such risks, the chances are that it would prove bad
business. For to discover a new or valuable orchid is only the first
step in a commercial enterprise. It remains to secure the "article," to
bring it safely into a realm that may be called civilized, to pack it
and superintend its transport through the sweltering lowland to a
shipping place. If the collector sicken after finding his prize, these
cares are neglected more or less; if he die, all comes to a full stop.
Thus it happens that the importing business has been given up by one
firm after another.

Odontoglossums, as I said, belong to America--to the mountainous parts
of the continent in general. Though it would be wildly rash to pronounce
which is the loveliest of orchids, no man with eyes would dispute that
_O. crispum Alexandræ_ is the queen of this genus. She has her home in
the States of Colombia, and those who seek her make Bogota their
headquarters. If the collector wants the broad-petalled variety, he goes
about ten days to the southward before commencing operations; if the
narrow-petalled, about two days to the north--on mule-back of course.
His first care on arrival in the neighbourhood--which is unexplored
ground, if such he can discover--is to hire a wood; that is, a track of
mountain clothed more or less with timber. I have tried to procure one
of these "leases," which must be odd documents; but orchid-farming is a
close and secret business. The arrangement concluded in legal form, he
hires natives, twenty or fifty or a hundred, as circumstances advise,
and sends them to cut down trees, building meantime a wooden stage of
sufficient length to bear the plunder expected. This is used for
cleaning and drying the plants brought in. Afterwards, if he be prudent,
he follows his lumber-men, to see that their indolence does not shirk
the big trunks--which give extra trouble naturally, though they yield
the best and largest return. It is a terribly wasteful process. If we
estimate that a good tree has been felled for every three scraps of
Odontoglossum which are now established in Europe, that will be no
exaggeration. And for many years past they have been arriving by
hundreds of thousands annually! But there is no alternative. An European
cannot explore that green wilderness overhead; if he could, his
accumulations would be so slow and costly as to raise the proceeds to an
impossible figure. The natives will not climb, and they would tear the
plants to bits. Timber has no value in those parts as yet, but the day
approaches when Government must interfere. The average yield of
_Odontoglossum crispum_ per tree is certainly not more than five large
and small together. Once upon a time Mr. Kerbach recovered fifty-three
at one felling, and the incident has grown into a legend; two or three
is the usual number. Upon the other hand, fifty or sixty of _O.
gloriosum_, comparatively worthless, are often secured. The cutters
receive a fixed price of sixpence for each orchid, without reference to
species or quality.

When his concession is exhausted, the traveller overhauls the produce
carefully, throwing away those damaged pieces which would ferment in the
long, hot journey home, and spoil the others. When all are clean and
dry, he fixes them with copper wire on sticks, which are nailed across
boxes for transport. Long experience has laid down rules for each
detail of this process. The sticks, for example, are one inch in
diameter, fitting into boxes two feet three inches wide, two feet deep,
neither more nor less. Then the long file of mules sets out for Bogota,
perhaps ten days' march, each animal carrying two boxes--a burden
ridiculously light, but on such tracks it is dimension which has to be
considered. On arrival at Bogota, the cases are unpacked and examined
for the last time, restowed, and consigned to the muleteers again. In
six days they reach Honda, on the Magdalena River, where, until lately,
they were embarked on rafts for a voyage of fourteen days to Savanilla.
At the present time, an American company has established a service of
flat-bottomed steamers which cover the distance in seven days, thus
reducing the risks of the journey by one-half. But they are still
terrible. Not a breath of wind stirs the air at that season, for the
collector cannot choose his time. The boxes are piled on deck; even the
pitiless sunshine is not so deadly as the stewing heat below. He has a
store of blankets to cover them, on which he lays a thatch of
palm-leaves, and all day long he souses the pile with water; but too
well the poor fellow knows that mischief is busy down below. Another
anxiety possesses him too. It may very well be that on arrival at
Savanilla he has to wait days in that sweltering atmosphere for the
Royal Mail steamer. And when it comes in, his troubles do not cease, for
the stowage of the precious cargo is vastly important. On deck it will
almost certainly be injured by salt water. In the hold it will ferment.
Amidships it is apt to be baked by the engine fire. Whilst writing I
learn that Mr. Sander has lost two hundred and sixty-seven cases by this
latter mishap, as is supposed. So utterly hopeless is their condition,
that he will not go to the expense of overhauling them; they lie at
Southampton, and to anybody who will take them away all parties
concerned will be grateful. The expense of making this shipment a reader
may judge from the hints given. The Royal Mail Company's charge for
freight from Manzanilla is 750l. I could give an incident of the same
class yet more startling with reference to Phaloenopsis. It is proper to
add that the most enterprising of Assurance Companies do not yet see
their way to accept any kind of risks in the orchid trade; importers
must bear all the burden. To me it seems surprising that the plants can
be sold so cheap, all things considered. Many persons think and hope
that prices will fall, and that may probably happen with regard to some
genera. But the shrewdest of those very shrewd men who conduct the
business all look for a rise.

_Od. Harryanum_ always reminds me--in such an odd association of ideas
as everyone has experienced--of a thunderstorm. The contrast of its
intense brown blotches with the azure throat and the broad, snowy lip,
affect me somehow with admiring oppression. Very absurd; but _on est
fait comme ça_, as Nana excused herself. To call this most striking
flower "Harryanum" is grotesque. The public is not interested in those
circumstances which give the name significance for a few, and if there
be any flower which demands an expressive title, it is this, in my
judgment. Possibly it was some Indian report which had slipped his
recollection that led Roezl to predict the discovery of a new
Odontoglot, unlike any other, in the very district where _Od. Harryanum_
was found after his death, though the story is quoted as an example of
that instinct which guides the heaven-born collector. The first plants
came unannounced in a small box sent by Señor Pantocha, of Colombia, to
Messrs. Horsman in 1885, and they were flowered next year by Messrs.
Veitch. The dullest who sees it can now imagine the excitement when this
marvel was displayed, coming from an unknown habitat. Roezl's
prediction occurred to many of his acquaintance, I have heard; but Mr.
Sander had a living faith in his old friend's sagacity. Forthwith he
despatched a collector to the spot which Roezl had named--but not
visited--and found the treasure. The legends of orchidology will be
gathered one day, perhaps; and if the editor be competent, his volume
should be almost as interesting to the public as to the cognoscenti.

I have been speaking hitherto of Colombian Odontoglossums, which are
reckoned among the hardiest of their class. Along with them, in the same
temperature, grow the cool Masdevallias, which probably are the most
difficult of all to transport. There was once a grand consignment of
_Masdevallia Schlimii_, which Mr. Roezl despatched on his own account.
It contained twenty-seven thousand plants of this species, representing
at that time a fortune. Mr. Roezl was the luckiest and most experienced
of collectors, and he took special pains with this unique shipment.
Among twenty-seven thousand two bits survived when the cases were
opened; the agent hurried them off to Stevens's auction-rooms, and sold
them forthwith at forty guineas each. But I must stick to
Odontoglossums. Speculative as is the business of importing the northern
species, to gather those of Peru and Ecuador is almost desperate. The
roads of Colombia are good, the population civilized, conveniences
abound, if we compare that region with the orchid-bearing territories of
the south. There is a fortune to be secured by anyone who will bring to
market a lot of _O. noeveum_ in fair condition. Its habitat is
perfectly well known. I am not aware that it has a delicate
constitution; but no collector is so rash or so enthusiastic as to try
that adventure again, now that its perils are understood; and no
employer is so reckless as to urge him. The true variety of _O. Hallii_
stands in much the same case. To obtain it the explorer must march in
the bed of a torrent and on the face of a precipice alternately for an
uncertain period of time, with a river to cross about every day. And he
has to bring back his loaded mules, or Indians, over the same pathless
waste. The Roraima Mountain begins to be regarded as quite easy travel
for the orchid-hunter nowadays. If I mention that the canoe-work on this
route demands thirty-two portages, thirty-two loadings and unloadings of
the cargo, the reader can judge what a "difficult road" must be.
Ascending the Roraima, Mr. Dressel, collecting for Mr. Sander, lost his
herbarium in the Essequibo River. Savants alone are able to estimate the
awful nature of the crisis when a comrade looses his grip of that
treasure. For them it is needless to add that everything else went to
the bottom.[2]

One is tempted to linger among the Odontoglots, though time is pressing.
In no class of orchids are natural hybrids so mysterious and frequent.
Sometimes one can detect the parentage; in such cases, doubtless, the
crossing occurred but a few generations back: as a rule, however, such
plants are the result of breeding in and in from age to age, causing all
manner of delightful complications. How many can trace the lineage of
Mr. Bull's _Od. delectabile_--ivory white, tinged with rose, strikingly
blotched with red and showing a golden labellum? or Mr. Sander's _Od.
Alberti-Edwardi_, which has a broad soft margin of gold about its
stately petals? Another is rosy white, closely splashed with pale
purple, and dotted round the edge with spots of the same tint so thickly
placed that they resemble a fringe. Such marvels turn up in an
importation without the slightest warning--no peculiarity betrays them
until the flowers open; when the lucky purchaser discovers that a plant
for which he gave perhaps a shilling is worth an indefinite number of

Lycaste also is a genus peculiar to America, such a favourite among
those who know its merits that the species _L. Skinneri_ is called the
"Drawing-Room Flower." Professor Reichenbach observes in his superb
volume that many people utterly ignorant of orchids grow this plant in
their miscellaneous collection. I speak of it without prejudice, for to
my mind the bloom is stiff, heavy, and poor in colour. But there are
tremendous exceptions. In the first place, _Lycaste Skinneri alba_, the
pure white variety, beggars all description. Its great flower seems to
be sculptured in the snowiest of transparent marble. That stolid
pretentious air which offends one--offends me, at least--in the coloured
examples, becomes virginal dignity in this case. Then, of the normal
type there are more than a hundred variations recognized, some with lips
as deep in tone, and as smooth in texture, as velvet, of all shades from
maroon to brightest crimson. It will be understood that I allude to the
common forms in depreciating this species. How vast is the difference
between them, their commercial value shows. Plants of the same size and
the same species range from 3s. 6d. to 35 guineas, or more

Lycastes are found in the woods, of Guatemala especially, and I have
heard no such adventures in the gathering of them as attend
Odontoglossums. Easily obtained, easily transported, and remarkably easy
to grow, of course they are cheap. A man must really "give his mind to
it" to kill a Lycaste. This counts for much, no doubt, in the popularity
of the genus, but it has plenty of other virtues. _L. Skinneri_ opens in
the depth of winter, and all the rest, I think, in the dull months.
Then, they are profuse of bloom, throwing up half a dozen spikes, or, in
some species, a dozen, from a single bulb, and the flowers last a
prodigious time. Their extraordinary thickness in every part enables
them to withstand bad air and changes of temperature, so that ladies
keep them on a drawing-room table, night and day, for months, without
change perceptible. Mr. Williams names an instance where a _L.
Skinneri_, bought in full bloom on February 2, was kept in a
sitting-room till May 18, when the purchaser took it back, still
handsome. I have heard cases more surprising. Of species somewhat less
common there is _L. aromatica_, a little gem, which throws up an
indefinite number of short spikes, each crowned with a greenish yellow
triangular sort of cup, deliciously scented. I am acquainted with no
flower that excites such enthusiasm among ladies who fancy Messrs.
Liberty's style of toilette; sad experience tells me that ten
commandments or twenty will not restrain them from appropriating it. _L.
cruenta_ is almost as tempting. As for _L. leucanthe_, an exquisite
combination of pale green and snow white, it ranks with _L. Skinneri
alba_ as a thing too beautiful for words. This species has not been long
introduced, and at the moment it is dear proportionately. There is yet
another virtue of the Lycaste which appeals to the expert. It lends
itself readily to hybridization. This most fascinating pursuit attracts
few amateurs as yet, and the professionals have little time or
inclination for experiments. They naturally prefer to make such crosses
as are almost certain to pay. Thus it comes about that the hybridization
of Lycastes has been attempted but recently, and none of the seedlings,
so far as I can learn, have flowered. They have been obtained, however,
in abundance, not only from direct crossing, but also from alliance with
Zygopetalum, Anguloa, and Maxillaria.

The genus Cypripedium, Lady's Slipper, is perhaps more widely scattered
over the globe than any other class of plant; I, at least, am acquainted
with none that approaches it. From China to Peru--nay, beyond, from
Archangel to Torres Straits,--but it is wise to avoid these semi-poetic
descriptions. In brief, if we except Africa and the temperate parts of
Australia, there is no large tract of country in the world that does not
produce Cypripediums; and few authorities doubt that a larger
acquaintance with those realms will bring them under the rule. We have a
species in England, _C. calceolus_, by no means insignificant; it can be
purchased from the dealers, but it is almost extinct in this country
now. America furnishes a variety of species; which ought to be hardy.
They will bear a frost below zero, but our winter damp is intolerable.
Mr. Godseff tells me that he has seen _C. spectabile_ growing like any
water-weed in the bogs of New Jersey, where it is frozen hard, roots and
all, for several months of the year; but very few survive the season in
this country, even if protected. Those fine specimens so common at our
spring shows are imported in the dry state. From the United States also
we get the charming _C. candidum_, _C. parviflorum_, _C. pubescens_, and
many more less important. Canada and Siberia furnish _C. guttatum_, _C.
macranthum_, and others. I saw in Russia, and brought home, a
magnificent species, tall and stately, bearing a great golden flower,
which is not known "in the trade;" but they all rotted gradually.
Therefore I do not recommend these fine outdoor varieties, which the
inexperienced are apt to think so easy. At the same cost others may be
bought, which, coming from the highlands of hot countries, are used to a
moderate damp in winter.

Foremost of these, perhaps the oldest of cool orchids in cultivation, is
_C. insigne_, from Nepal. Everyone knows its original type, which has
grown so common that I remarked a healthy pot at a window-garden
exhibition some years ago in Westminster. One may say that this, the
early and familiar form, has no value at present, so many fine varieties
have been introduced. A reader may form a notion of the difference when
I state that a small plant of exceptional merit sold for thirty guineas
a short time ago--it was _C. insigne_, but glorified. This ranks among
the fascinations of orchid culture. You may buy a lot of some common
kind, imported, at a price representing coppers for each individual, and
among them may appear, when they come to bloom, an eccentricity which
sells for a hundred pounds or more. The experienced collector has a
volume of such legends. There is another side to the question, truly,
but it does not personally interest the class which I address. To make a
choice among numberless stories of this sort, we may take the instance
of _C. Spicerianum_.

It turned up among a quantity of _Cypripedium insigne_ in the
greenhouse of Mrs. Spicer, a lady residing at Twickenham. Astonished at
the appearance of this swan among her ducks, she asked Mr. Veitch to
look at it. He was delighted to pay seventy guineas down for such a
prize. Cypripediums propagate easily, no more examples came into the
market, and for some years this lovely species was a treasure for dukes
and millionaires. It was no secret that the precious novelty came from
Mrs. Spicer's greenhouse; but to call on a strange lady and demand how
she became possessed of a certain plant is not a course of action that
commends itself to respectable business men. The circumstances gave no
clue. Messrs. Spicer were and are large manufacturers of paper; there is
no visible connection betwixt paper and Indian orchids. By discreet
inquiries, however, it was ascertained that one of the lady's sons had a
tea-plantation in Assam. No more was needed. By the next mail Mr.
Forstermann started for that vague destination, and in process of time
reached Mr. Spicer's bungalow. There he asked for "a job." None could be
found for him; but tea-planters are hospitable, and the stranger was
invited to stop a day or two. But he could not lead the conversation
towards orchids--perhaps because his efforts were too clever, perhaps
because his host took no interest in the subject. One day, however, Mr.
Spicer's manager invited him to go shooting, and casually remarked "we
shall pass the spot where I found those orchids they're making such a
fuss about at home." Be sure Mr. Forstermann was alert that morning!
Thus put upon the track, he discovered quantities of it, bade the
tea-planter adieu, and went to work; but in the very moment of triumph a
tiger barred the way, his coolies bolted, and nothing would persuade
them to go further. Mr. Forstermann was no shikari, but he felt himself
called upon to uphold the cause of science and the honour of England at
this juncture. In great agitation he went for that feline, and, in
short, its skin still adorns Mrs. Sander's drawing-room. Thus it
happened that on a certain Thursday a small pot of _C. Spicerianum_ was
sold, as usual, for sixty guineas at Stevens's; on the Thursday
following all the world could buy fine plants at a guinea.

Cypripedium is the favourite orchid of the day. It has every advantage,
except, to my perverse mind--brilliancy of colour. None show a whole
tone; even the lovely _C. niveum_ is not pure white. My views, however,
find no backing. At all other points the genus deserves to be a
favourite. In the first place, it is the most interesting of all orchids
to science.[3] Then its endless variations of form, its astonishing
oddities, its wide range of hues, its easy culture, its readiness to
hybridize and to ripen seed, the certainty, by comparison, of rearing
the proceeds, each of these merits appeals to one or other of
orchid-growers. Many of the species which come from torrid lands,
indeed, are troublesome, but with such we are not concerned. The cool
varieties will do well anywhere, provided they receive water enough in
summer, and not too little in winter. I do not speak of the American and
Siberian classes, which are nearly hopeless for the amateur, nor of the
Hong-Kong _Cypripedium purpuratum_, a very puzzling example.

On the roll of martyrs to orchidology, Mr. Pearce stands high. To him we
owe, among many fine things, the hybrid Begonias which are becoming such
favourites for bedding and other purposes. He discovered the three
original types, parents of the innumerable "garden flowers" now on
sale--_Begonia Pearcii_, _B. Veitchii_, and _B. Boliviensis_. It was his
great luck, and great honour, to find _Masdevallia Veitchii_--so long,
so often, so laboriously searched for from that day to this, but never
even heard of. To collect another shipment of that glorious orchid, Mr.
Pearce sailed for Peru, in the service, I think, of Mr. Bull.
Unhappily--for us all as well as for himself--he was detained at Panama.
Somewhere in those parts there is a magnificent Cypripedium with which
we are acquainted only by the dried inflorescence, named _planifolium_.
The poor fellow could not resist this temptation. They told him at
Panama that no white man had returned from the spot, but he went on. The
Indians brought him back, some days or weeks later, without the prize;
and he died on arrival.

Oncidiums also are a product of the New World exclusively; in fact, of
the four classes most useful to amateurs, three belong wholly to
America, and the fourth in great part. I resist the temptation to
include Masdevallia, because that genus is not so perfectly easy as the
rest; but if it be added, nine-tenths, assuredly, of the plants in our
cool house come from the West. Among the special merits of the Oncidium
is its colour. I have heard thoughtless persons complain that they are
"all yellow;" which, as a statement of fact, is near enough to the
truth, for about three-fourths may be so described roughly. But this
dispensation is another proof of Nature's kindly regard for the
interests of our science. A clear, strong, golden yellow is the colour
that would have been wanting in our cool houses had not the Oncidium
supplied it. Shades of lemon and buff are frequent among Odontoglossums,
but, in a rough, general way of speaking, they have a white ground.
Masdevallias give us scarlet and orange and purple; Lycastes, green and
dull yellow; Sophronitis, crimson; Mesospinidium, rose, and so forth.
Blue must not be looked for. Even counting the new Utricularia for an
orchid, as most people do, there are, I think, but five species that
will live among us at present, in all the prodigious family, showing
this colour; and every one of them is very "hot." Thus it appears that
the Oncidium fills a gap--and how gloriously! There is no such pure gold
in the scheme of the universe as it displays under fifty shapes
wondrously varied. Thus--_Oncidium macranthum!_ one is continually
tempted to exclaim, as one or other glory of the orchid world recurs to
mind, that it is the supreme triumph of floral beauty. I have sinned
thus, and I know it. Therefore, let the reader seek an opportunity to
behold _O. macranthum_, and judge for himself. But it seems to me that
Nature gives us a hint. As though proudly conscious what a marvel it
will unfold, this superb flower often demands nine months to perfect
itself. Dr. Wallace told me of an instance in his collection where
eighteen months elapsed from the appearance of the spike until the
opening of the first bloom. But it lasts a time proportionate.

Reduced to One Sixth]

Nature forestalled the dreams of æsthetic colourists when she designed
_Oncidium macranthum_. Thus, and not otherwise, would the thoughtful of
them arrange a "harmony" in gold and bronze; but Nature, with
characteristic indifference to the fancies of mankind, hid her
_chef-d'oeuvre_ in the wilds of Ecuador. Hardly less striking,
however, though perhaps less beautiful, are its sisters of the
"small-lipped" species--_Onc. serratum_, _O. superbiens_, and _O.
sculptum_. This last is rarely seen. As with others of its class, the
spike grows very long, twelve feet perhaps, if it were allowed to
stretch. The flowers are small comparatively, clear bronze-brown, highly
polished, so closely and daintily frilled round the edges that a fairy
goffering-iron could not give more regular effects, and outlined by a
narrow band of gold. _Onc. serratum_ has a much larger bloom, but less
compact, rather fly-away indeed, its sepals widening gracefully from a
narrow neck. Excessively curious is the disposition of the petals, which
close their tips to form a circle of brown and gold around the column.
The purpose of this extraordinary arrangement--unique among orchids, I
believe--will be discovered one day, for purpose there is, no doubt; to
judge by analogy, it may be supposed that the insect upon which _Onc.
serratum_ depends for fertilization likes to stand upon this ring while
thrusting its proboscis into the nectary. The fourth of these fine
species, _Onc. superbiens_, ranks among the grandest of flowers--knowing
its own value, it rarely consents to "oblige;" the dusky green sepals
are margined with yellow, petals white, clouded with pale purple, lip
very small, of course, purple, surmounted by a great golden crest.

Most strange and curious is _Onc. fuscatum_, of which the shape defies
description. Seen from the back, it shows a floriated cross of equal
limbs; but in front the nethermost is hidden by a spreading lip, very
large proportionately. The prevailing tint is a dun-purple, but each arm
has a broad white tip. Dun-purple, also, is the centre of the labellum,
edged with a distinct band of lighter hue, which again, towards the
margin, becomes white. These changes of tone are not gradual, but as
clear as a brush could make them. Botanists must long to dissect this
extraordinary flower, but the opportunity seldom occurs. It is
desperately puzzling to understand how nature has packed away the
component parts of its inflorescence, so as to resolve them into four
narrow arms and a labellum. But the colouring of this plant is not
always dull. In the small Botanic Garden at Florence, by Santa Maria
Maggiore, I remarked with astonishment an _Onc. fuscatum_, of which the
lip was scarlet-crimson and the other tints bright to match. That
collection is admirably grown, but orchids are still scarce in Italy.
The Society did not know what a prize it had secured by chance.

The genus Oncidium has, perhaps, more examples of a startling
combination in hues than any other--but one must speak thoughtfully and
cautiously upon such points.

I have not to deal with culture, but one hint may be given. Gardeners
who have a miscellaneous collection to look after, often set themselves
against an experiment in orchid-growing because these plants suffer
terribly from green-fly and other pests, and will not bear "smoking." To
keep them clean and healthy by washing demands labour for which they
have no time. This is a very reasonable objection. But though the smoke
of tobacco is actual ruination, no plant whatever suffers from the steam
thereof. An ingenious Frenchman has invented and patented in England
lately a machine called the Thanatophore, which I confidently
recommend. It can be obtained from Messrs. B.S. Williams, of Upper
Holloway. The Thanatophore destroys every insect within reach of its
vapour, excepting, curiously enough, scaly-bug, which, however, does not
persecute cool orchids much. The machine may be obtained in different
sizes through any good ironmonger.

To sum up: these plants ask nothing in return for the measureless
enjoyment they give but light, shade from the summer sun, protection
from the winter frost, moisture--and brains.

       *       *       *       *       *

I am allowed to print a letter which bears upon several points to which
I have alluded. It is not cheerful reading for the enthusiast. He will
be apt to cry, "Would that the difficulties and perils were infinitely
graver--so grave that the collecting grounds might have a rest for
twenty years!"

_January 19th, 1893._


I have received your two letters asking for _Cattleya Lawrenceana_,
_Pancratium Guianense_, and _Catasetum pileatum_. Kindly excuse my
answering your letters only to-day. But I have been away in the
interior, and on my return was sick, besides other business taking up my
time; I was unable to write until to-day. Now let me give you some
information concerning orchid-collecting in this colony. Six or seven
years ago, just when the gold industry was starting, very few people
ever ventured in the far interior. Boats, river-hands, and Indians could
be hired at ridiculously low prices, and travelling and bartering paid;
wages for Indians being about a shilling per day, and all found; the
same for river-hands. Captains and boatswains to pilot the boat through
the rapids up and down for sixty-four cents a day. To-day you have got
to pay sixty-four to eighty cents per day for Indians and river-hands.
Captains and boatswains, $2 the former, and $1:50 the latter per day,
and then you often cannot get them. Boat-hire used to be $8 to $10 for a
big boat for three to four months; to-day $5, $6, and $7 per day, and
all through the rapid development of the gold industry. As you can
calculate twenty-five days' river travel to get within reach of the
Savannah lands, you can reckon what the expenses must be, and then again
about five to seven days coming down the river, and a couple of days to
lay over. Then you must count two trips like this, one to bring you up,
and one to bring you down three months after, when you return with your
collection. Besides this, you run the risk of losing your boat in the
rapids either way, which happens not very unfrequently either going or
coming; and we have not only to record the loss of several boats with
goods, etc., every month, but generally to record the loss of life; only
two cases happening last month, in one case seven, in the other twelve
men losing their lives. Besides, river-hands and blacks will not go
further than the boats can travel, and nothing will induce them to go
among the Indians, being afraid of getting poisoned by Inds.
(Kaiserimas) or strangled. So you have to rely utterly on Indians, which
you often cannot get, as the district of Roraima is very poorly
inhabited, and most of the Indians died by smallpox and measles breaking
out among them four years ago, and those that survived left the
district, and you will find whole districts nearly uninhabited. About
five years ago I went up with Mr. Osmers to Roraima, but he broke down
before we reached the Savannah. He lay there for a week, and I gave him
up; he recovered, however, and dragged himself into the Savannah near
Roraima, about three days distant from it, where I left him. Here we
found and made a splendid collection of about 3000 first-class plants of
different kinds.

While I was going up to Roraima, he stayed in the Savannah, still too
sick to go further. At Roraima I collected everything except _Catt.
Lawrenceana_, which was utterly rooted out already by former collectors.
On my return to Osmers' camp, I found him more dead than alive, thrown
down by a new attack of sickness; but not alone that, I also found him
abandoned by most of our Indians, who had fled on account of the Kanaima
having killed three of their number. So Mr. Osmers--who got soon
better--and I, made up our baskets with plants, and made everything
ready. Our Indians returning partly, I sent him ahead with as many loads
as we could carry, I staying behind with the rest of baskets of plants.
Had all our Indians come back, we would have been all right, but this
not being the case I had to stay until the Indians returned and fetched
me off. After this we got back all right. This was before the sickness
broke out among the Indians.

Last year I went up with Mr. Kromer, who met me going up-river while I
was coming down. So I joined him. We got up all right to the river's
head, but here our troubles began, as we got only about eight Indians to
go on with us who had worked in the gold-diggings, and no others could
be had, the district being abandoned. We had to pay them half a dollar
a day to carry loads. So we pushed on, carrying part of our loads,
leaving the rest of our cargo behind, until we reached the Savannah,
when we had to send them back several times to get the balance of our
goods. From the time we reached the Savannah we were starving, more or
less, as we could procure only very little provisions. We hunted all
about for _Catt. Lawrenceana_, and got only about 1500 or so, it growing
only here and there. At Roraima we did not hunt at all, as the district
is utterly rubbed out by the Indians. We were about fourteen days at
Roraima and got plenty of _Utricularia Campbelliana_, _U. Humboldtii_,
and _U. montana_. Also _Zygopetalum_, _Cyp. Lindleyanum_, _Oncidium
nigratum_ (only fifty--very rare now), _Cypripedium Schomburgkianum_,
_Zygopetalum Burkeii_, and in fact, all that is to be found on and about
Roraima, except the _Cattleya Lawrenceana_. Also plenty others, as
Sobralia, Liliastrum, etc. So our collection was not a very great one;
we had the hardest trouble now through the want of Indians to carry the
loads. Besides this, the rainy weather set in and our loads suffered
badly for all the care we took of them. Besides, the Indians got
disagreeable, having to go back several times to bring the remaining
baskets. Nevertheless, we got down as far as the Curubing mountains. Up
to this time we were more or less always starving. Arrived at the
Curubing mountains, procured a scant supply of provisions, but lost
nearly all of them in a small creek, and what was saved was spoiling
under our eyes, it being then that the rainy season had fully started,
drenching us from morning to night. It took us nine days to get our
loads over the mountain, where our boat was to reach us to take us down
river. And we were for two and a half days entirely without food.
Besides the plants being damaged by stress of weather, the Indians had
opened the baskets and thrown partly the loads away, not being able to
carry the heavy soaked-through baskets over the mountains, so making us
lose the best of our plants.

Arrived at our landing we had to wait for our boat, which arrived a week
later in consequence of the river being high, and, of course, short of
provisions. Still, we got away with what we had of our loads until we
reached the first gold places kept by a friend of mine, who supplied us
with food. Thereafter we started for town. Halfway, at Kapuri falls (one
of the most dangerous), we swamped down over a rock, and so we lost some
of our things; still saved all our plants, though they lay for a few
hours under water with the boat. After this we reached town in safety.
So after coming home we found, on packing up, that we had only about 900
plants, that is, _Cattleya Lawrenceana_, of which about one-third good,
one-third medium, and one-third poor quality. This trip took us about
three and a half months, and cost over 2500 dollars. Besides, I having
poisoned my leg on a rotten stump which I run up in my foot, lay for
four months suffering terrible pain.

You will, of course, see from this that orchid-hunting is no pleasure,
as you of course know, but what I want to point out to you is that
_Cattleya Lawrenceana_ is very rare in the interior now.

The river expenses fearfully high, in fact, unreasonably high, on
account of the gold-digging. Labourers getting 64 c. to $1.00 per day,
and all found. No Indians to be got, and those that you can get at
ridiculous prices, and getting them, too, by working on places where
they build and thatch houses and clear the ground from underbush, and as
huntsmen for gold-diggers. Even if Mr. Kromer had succeeded to get 3000
or 4000 fine _Cattleya Lawrenceana_, it would have been of no value to
us, as we could not have got anybody to carry them to the river where a
boat could reach. Besides this, I also must tell you that there is a
license to be paid out here if you want to collect orchids, amounting
to $100, which Mr. Kromer had to pay, and also an export tax duty of 2
cents per piece. So that orchid collecting is made a very expensive
affair. Besides its success being very doubtful, even if a man is very
well acquainted with Indian life and has visited the Savannah reaches
year after year. We spent something over $2500 to $2900, including Mr.
Kromer's and Steigfer's passage out, on our last expedition.

If you want to get any _Lawrenceana_, you will have to send yourself,
and as I said before, the results will be very doubtful. As far as I
myself am concerned, I am interested besides my baking business, in the
gold-diggings, and shall go up to the Savannah in a few months. I can
give you first-class references if you should be willing to send an
expedition, and we could come to some arrangement; at least, you would
save the expenses of the passage of one of your collectors. I may say
that I am quite conversant with the way of packing orchids and handling
them as well for travel as shipment.

Kindly excuse, therefore, my lengthy letter and its bad writing. And if
you should be inclined to go in for an expedition, just send me a list
of what you require, and I will tell you whether the plants are found
along the route of travel and in the Savannah visited; as, for
instance, _Catt. superba_ does not grow at all in the district where
_Catt. Lawrenceana_ is to be found, but far further south.

Before closing, I beg you to let me know the prices of about twenty-five
of the best of and prettiest South American orchids, which I want for my
own collection, as _Catt. Medellii_, _Catt. Trianæ_, _Odontoglossum
crispum_, _Miltonia vexillaria_, _Catt. labiata_, &c.

I shall await your answer as soon as possible, and send you a list by
last mail of what is to be got in this colony.

We also found on our last visit something new--a very large bulbed
Oncidium, or may be Catasetum, on the top of Roraima, where we spent a
night, but got only two specimens, one of which got lost, and the other
one I left in the hands of Mr. Rodway, but so we tried our best. It
decayed, having been too seriously damaged to revive and flower, and so
enable us to see what it was, it not being in flower when found.

                             Awaiting your kind reply,
                                   Yours truly,

P.S.--If you should send out one of your collectors, or require any
information, I shall be glad to give it.

One of the most experienced collectors, M. Oversluys, writes from the
Rio de Yanayacca, January, 1893:--

"Here it is absolutely necessary that one goes himself into the woods
ahead of the peons, who are quite cowards to enter the woods; and not
altogether without reason, for the larger part of them get sick here,
and it is very hard to enter--nearly impenetrable and full of insects,
which make fresh-coming people to get cracked and mad. I have from the
wrist down not a place to put in a shilling piece which is not a wound,
through the very small red spider and other insects. Also my people are
the same. Of the five men I took out, two have got fever already, and
one ran back. To-morrow I expect other peons, but not a single one from
Mengobamba. It is a trouble to get men who will come into the woods, and
I cannot have more than eight or ten to work with, because when I should
not be continually behind them or ahead they do nothing. It is not a
question of money to do good here, but merely luck and the way one
treats people. The peons come out less for their salaries than for good
and plenty of food, which is very difficult to find in these scarce

"The plants are here one by one, and we have got but one tree with three
plants. They are on the highest and biggest trees, and these must be
cut down with axes. Below are all shrubs, full of climbers and lianas
about a finger thick. Every step must be cut to advance, and the ground
cleared below the high trees in order to spy the branches. It is a very
difficult job. Nature has well protected this Cattleya.... Nobody can
like this kind of work."

The poor man ends abruptly, "I will write when I can--the mosquitos
don't leave me a moment."


[Footnote 2: See a letter at p. 92.]

[Footnote 3: _Vide_ "Orchids and Hybridizing," _infra_, p. 210.]


By the expression "warm" we understand that condition which is
technically known as "intermediate." It is waste of time to ask, at this
day, why a Latin combination should be employed when there is an English
monosyllable exactly equivalent; we, at least, will use our
mother-tongue. Warm orchids are those which like a minimum temperature,
while growing, of 60°; while resting, of 55°. As for the maximum, it
signifies little in the former case, but in the latter--during the
months of rest--it cannot be allowed to go beyond 60°, for any length of
time, without mischief. These conditions mean, in effect, that the house
must be warmed during nine months of the twelve in this realm of
England. "Hot" orchids demand a fire the whole year round--saving a few
very rare nights when the Briton swelters in tropical discomfort. Upon
this dry subject of temperature, however, I would add one word of
encouragement for those who are not willing to pay a heavy bill for
coke. The cool-house, in general, requires a fire, at night, until June
1. Under that condition, if it face the south, in a warm locality, very
many genera and species classed as intermediate should be so thoroughly
started before artificial heat is withdrawn that they will do
excellently, unless the season be unusual.

Warm orchids come from a sub-tropic region, or from the mountains of a
hotter climate, where their kinsfolk dwelling in the plains defy the
thermometer; just as in sub-tropic lands warm species occupy the
lowlands, while the heights furnish Odontoglossums and such lovers of a
chilly atmosphere. There are, however, some warm Odontoglossums, notable
among them _O. vexillarium_, which botanists class with the Miltonias.
This species is very fashionable, and I give it the place of honour; but
not, in my own view, for its personal merits. The name is so singularly
appropriate that one would like to hear the inventor's reasons for
transfiguring it. _Vexillum_ we know, and _vexillarius_, but
_vexillarium_ goes beyond my Latin. However, it is an intelligible word,
and those acquainted with the appearance of "regimental colours" in Old
Rome perceive its fitness at a glance. The flat bloom seems to hang
suspended from its centre, just as the _vexillum_ figures in
bas-relief--on the Arch of Antoninus, for example. To my mind the
colouring is insipid, as a rule, and the general effect stark--fashion
in orchids, as in other things, has little reference to taste. I repeat
with emphasis, _as a rule_, for some priceless specimens are no less
than astounding in their blaze of colour, the quintessence of a million
uninteresting blooms. The poorest of these plants have merit, no doubt,
for those who can accommodate giants. They grow fast and big. There are
specimens in this country a yard across, which display a hundred and
fifty or two hundred flowers open at the same time for months. A superb
show they make, rising over the pale sea-green foliage, four spikes
perhaps from a single bulb. But this is a beauty of general effect,
which must not be analyzed, as I think.

_Odontoglossum vexillarium_ is brought from Colombia. There are two
forms: the one--small, evenly red, flowering in autumn--was discovered
by Frank Klaboch, nephew to the famous Roezl, on the Dagua River, in
Antioquia. For eight years he persisted in despatching small quantities
to Europe, though every plant died; at length a safer method of
transmission was found, but simultaneously poor Klaboch himself
succumbed. It is an awful country--perhaps the wettest under the sun.
Though a favourite hunting-ground of collectors now--for Cattleyas of
value come from hence, besides this precious Odontoglot--there are still
no means of transport, saving Indians and canoes. _O. vexillarium_ would
not be thought costly if buyers knew how rare it is, how expensive to
get, and how terribly difficult to bring home. Forty thousand pieces
were despatched to Mr. Sander in one consignment--he hugged himself with
delight when three thousand proved to have some trace of vitality.

Mr. Watson, Assistant Curator at Kew, recalls an amusing instance of the
value and the mystery attached to this species so late as 1867. In that
year Professor Reichenbach described it for the first time. He tells how
a friend lent him the bloom upon a negative promise under five
heads--"First, not to show it to any one else; (2) not to speak much
about it; (3) not to take a drawing of it; (4) not to have a photograph
made; (5) not to look oftener than three times at it." By-the-bye, Mr.
Watson gives the credit of the first discovery to the late Mr. Bowman;
but I venture to believe that my account is exact--in reference to the
Antioquia variety, at least.

The other form occurs in the famous district of Frontino, about two
hundred and fifty miles due north of the first habitat, and
shows--_savants_ would add "of course"--a striking difference. In the
geographical distinctions of species will be found the key to whole
volumes of mystery that perplex us now. I once saw three Odontoglossums
ranged side by side, which even an expert would pronounce mere varieties
of the same plant if he were not familiar with them--_Od. Williamsi_,
_Od. grande_, and _Od. Schlieperianum_. The middle one everybody knows,
by sight at least, a big, stark, spread-eagle flower, gamboge yellow
mottled with red-brown, vastly effective in the mass, but individually
vulgar. On one side was _Od. Williamsi_, essentially the same in flower
and bulb and growth, but smaller; opposite stood _Od. Schlieperianum_,
only to be distinguished as smaller still. But both these latter rank as
species. They are separated from the common type, _O. grande_, by nearly
ten degrees of latitude and ten degrees of longitude, nor--we might
almost make an affidavit--do any intermediate forms exist in the space
between; and those degrees are sub-tropical, by so much more significant
than an equal distance in our zone. Instances of the same class and more
surprising are found in many genera of orchid.

The Frontino _vexillarium_ grows "cooler," has a much larger bloom,
varies in hue from purest white to deepest red, and flowers in May or
June. The most glorious of these things, however, is _O. vex.
superbum_, a plant of the greatest rarity, conspicuous for its blotch of
deep purple in the centre of the lip, and its little dot of the same on
each wing. Doubtless this is a natural hybrid betwixt the Antioquia form
and _Odontoglossum Roezlii_, which is its neighbour. The chance of
finding a bit of _superbum_ in a bundle of the ordinary kind lends
peculiar excitement to a sale of these plants. Such luck first occurred
to Mr. Bath, in Stevens' Auction Rooms. He paid half-a-crown for a very
weakly fragment, brought it round, flowered it, and received a prize for
good gardening in the shape of seventy-two pounds, cheerfully paid by
Sir Trevor Lawrence for a plant unique at that time. I am reminded of
another little story. Among a great number of _Cypripedium insigne_
received at St. Albans, and "established," Mr. Sander noted one
presently of which the flower-stalk was yellow instead of brown, as is
usual. Sharp eyes are a valuable item of the orchid-grower's
stock-in-trade, for the smallest peculiarity among such "sportive"
objects should not be neglected. Carefully he put the yellow stalk
aside--the only one among thousands, one might say myriads, since _C.
insigne_ is one of our oldest and commonest orchids, and it never
showed this phenomenon before. In due course the flower opened, and
proved to be all golden! Mr. Sander cut his plant in two, sold half for
seventy-five pounds to a favoured customer, and the other half,
publicly, for one hundred guineas. One of the purchasers has divided his
plant now and sold two bits at 100 guineas. Another piece was bought
back by Mr. Sander, who wanted it for hybridizing, at 250 guineas--not a
bad profit for the buyer, who has still two plants left. Another
instance occurs to me while I write--such legends of shrewdness worthily
rewarded fascinate a poor journalist who has the audacity to grow
orchids. Mr. Harvey, solicitor, of Liverpool, strolling through the
houses at St. Albans on July 24, 1883, remarked a plant of _Loelia
anceps_, which had the ring-mark on its pseudo-bulb much higher up than
is usual. There might be some meaning in that eccentricity, he thought,
paid two guineas for the little thing, and on December 1, 1888, sold it
back to Mr. Sander for 200l. It proved to be _L. a. Amesiana_, the
grandest form of _L. anceps_ yet discovered--rosy white, with petals
deeply splashed; thus named after F.L. Ames, an American amateur. Such
pleasing opportunities might arise for you or me any day.

The first name that arises to most people in thinking of warm orchids
is Cattleya, and naturally. The genus Odontoglossum alone has more
representatives under cultivation. Sixty species of Cattleya are grown
by amateurs who pay special attention to these plants; as for the number
of "varieties" in a single species, one boasts forty, another thirty,
several pass the round dozen. They are exclusively American, but they
flourish over all the enormous space between Mexico and the Argentine
Republic. The genus is not a favourite of my own, for somewhat of the
same reason which qualifies my regard for _O. vexillarium_. Cattleyas
are so obtrusively beautiful, they have such great flowers, which they
thrust upon the eye with such assurance of admiration! Theirs is a style
of effect--I refer to the majority--which may be called infantine; such
as an intelligent and tasteful child might conceive if he had no fine
sense of colour, and were too young to distinguish a showy from a
charming form. But I say no more.

The history of Orchids long established is uncertain, but I believe that
the very first Cattleya which appeared in Europe was _C. violacea
Loddigesi_, imported by the great firm whose name it bears, to which we
owe such a heavy debt. Two years later came _C. labiata_, of which more
must be said; then _C. Mossiæ_, from Caraccas; fourth, _C. Trianæ_ named
after Colonel Trian, of Tolima, in the United States of Colombia. Trian
well deserved immortality, for he was a native of that secluded
land--and a botanist! It is a natural supposition that his orchid must
be the commonest of weeds in its home; seeing how all Europe is stocked
with it, and America also, rash people might say there are millions in
cultivation. But it seems likely that _C. Trianæ_ was never very
frequent, and at the present time assuredly it is so scarce that
collectors are not sent after it. Probably the colonel, like many other
_savants_, was an excellent man of business, and he established "a
corner" when he saw the chance. _C. Mossiæ_ stands in the same
situation--or indeed worse; it can scarcely be found now. These
instances convey a serious warning. In seventy years we have destroyed
the native stock of two orchids, both so very free in propagating that
they have an exceptional advantage in the struggle for existence. How
long can rare species survive, when the demand strengthens and widens
year by year, while the means of communication and transport become
easier over all the world? Other instances will be mentioned in their

Island species are doomed, unless, like _Loelia elegans_, they have
inaccessible crags on which to find refuge. It is only a question of
time; but we may hope that Governments will interfere before it is too
late. Already Mr. Burbidge has suggested that "some one" who takes an
interest in orchids should establish a farm, a plantation, here and
there about the world, where such plants grow naturally, and devote
himself to careful hybridization on the spot. "One might make as much,"
he writes, "by breeding orchids as by breeding cattle, and of the two,
in the long run, I should prefer the orchid farm." This scheme will be
carried out one day, not so much for the purpose of hybridization as for
plain "market-gardening;" and the sooner the better.

The prospect is still more dark for those who believe--as many do--that
no epiphytal orchid under any circumstances can be induced to establish
itself permanently in our greenhouses as it does at home. Doubtless,
they say, it is possible to grow them and to flower them, by assiduous
care, upon a scale which is seldom approached under the rough treatment
of Nature. But they are dying from year to year, in spite of
appearances. That it is so in a few cases can hardly be denied; but,
seeing how many plants which have not changed hands since their
establishment, twenty or thirty or forty years ago, have grown
continually bigger and finer, it seems much more probable that our
ignorance is to blame for the loss of those species which suddenly
collapse. Sir Trevor Lawrence observed the other day: "With regard to
the longevity of orchids, I have one which I know to have been in this
country for more than fifty years, probably even twenty years longer
than that--_Renanthera coccinea_." The finest specimens of Cattleya in
Mr. Stevenson Clarke's houses have been "grown on" from small pieces
imported twenty years ago. If there were more collections which could
boast, say, half a century of uninterrupted attention, we should have
material for forming a judgment; as a rule, the dates of purchase or
establishment were not carefully preserved till late years.

But there is one species of Cattleya which must needs have seventy years
of existence in Europe, since it had never been re-discovered till 1890.
When we see a pot of _C. labiata_, the true, autumn-flowering variety,
more than two years old, we know that the very plant itself must have
been established about 1818, or at least its immediate parent--for no
seedling has been raised to public knowledge.[4]

In avowing a certain indifference to Cattleyas, I referred to the bulk,
of course. The most gorgeous, the stateliest, the most imperial of all
flowers on this earth, is _C. Dowiana_--unless it be _C. aurea_, a
"geographical variety" of the same. They dwell a thousand miles apart at
least, the one in Colombia, the other in Costa Rica; and neither occurs,
so far as is known, in the great intervening region. Not even a
connecting link has been discovered; but the Atlantic coast of Central
America is hardly explored, much less examined. In my time it was held,
from Cape Camarin to Chagres, by independent tribes of savages--not
independent in fact alone, but in name also. The Mosquito Indians are
recognized by Europe as free; the Guatusos kept a space of many hundred
miles from which no white man had returned; when I was in those parts,
the Talamancas, though not so unfriendly, were only known by the report
of adventurous pedlars. I made an attempt--comparatively spirited--to
organize an exploring party for the benefit of the Guatusos, but no
single volunteer answered our advertisements in San José de Costa Rica;
I have lived to congratulate myself on that disappointment. Since my day
a road has been cut through their wilds to Limon, certain luckless
Britons having found the money for a railway; but an engineer who
visited the coast but two years ago informs me that no one ever wandered
into "the bush." Collectors have not been there, assuredly. So there may
be connecting links between _C. Dowiana_ and _C. aurea_ in that vast
wilderness, but it is quite possible there are none.

Words could not picture the glory of these marvels. In each the scheme
of colour is yellow and crimson, but there are important modifications.
Yellow is the ground all through in _Cattleya aurea_--sepals, petals,
and lip; unbroken in the two former, in the latter superbly streaked
with crimson. But _Cattleya Dowiana_ shows crimson pencillings on its
sepals, while the ground colour of the lip is crimson, broadly lined and
reticulated with gold. Imagine four of these noble flowers on one stalk,
each half a foot across! But it lies beyond the power of imagination.

_C. Dowiana_ was discovered by Warscewicz about 1850, and he sent home
accounts too enthusiastic for belief. Steady-going Britons utterly
refused to credit such a marvel--his few plants died, and there was an
end of it for the time. I may mention an instance of more recent date,
where the eye-witness of a collector was flatly rejected at home.
Monsieur St. Leger, residing at Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay, wrote
a warm description of an orchid in those parts to scientific friends.
The account reached England, and was treated with derision. Monsieur St.
Leger, nettled, sent some dried flowers for a testimony; but the mind of
the Orchidaceous public was made up. In 1883 he brought a quantity of
plants and put them up at auction; nobody in particular would buy. So
those reckless or simple or trusting persons who invested a few
shillings in a bundle had all the fun to themselves a few months
afterwards, when the beautiful _Oncidium Jonesianum_ appeared, to
confound the unbelieving. It must be added, however, that orchid-growers
may well become an incredulous generation. When their judgment leads
them wrong we hear of it, the tale is published, and outsiders mock. But
these gentlemen receive startling reports continually, honest enough for
the most part. Much experience and some loss have made them rather
cynical when a new wonder is announced. The particular case of Monsieur
St. Leger was complicated by the extreme resemblance which the foliage
of _Onc. Jonesianum_ bears to that of _Onc. cibolletum_, a species
almost worthless. Unfortunately the beautiful thing declines to live
with us--as yet.

_Cattleya Dowiana_ was rediscovered by Mr. Arce, when collecting birds:
it must have been a grand moment for Warscewicz when the horticultural
world was convulsed by its appearance in bloom. _Cattleya aurea_ had no
adventures of this sort. Mr. Wallis found it in 1868 in the province of
Antioquia, and again on the west bank of the Magdalena; but it is very
rare. This species is persecuted in its native home by a beetle, which
accompanies it to Europe not infrequently--in the form of eggs, no
doubt. A more troublesome alien is the fly which haunts _Cattleya
Mendellii_, and for a long time prejudiced growers against that fine
species, until, in fact, they had made a practical and rather costly
study of its habits. An experienced grower detects the presence of this
enemy at a glance. It pierces an "eye"--a back one in general,
happily--and deposits an egg in the very centre. Presently this growth
begins to swell in a manner that delights the ingenuous horticulturist,
until he remarks that its length does not keep pace with its breadth.
But one remedy has yet been discovered--cutting off any suspected
growth. We understand now that _C. Mendellii_ is as safe to import as
any other species, unless it be gathered at the wrong time.[5]

Among the most glorious, rarest, and most valuable of Cattleyas is _C.
Hardyana_, doubtless a natural hybrid of _C. aurea_ with _C. gigas
Sanderiana_. Few of us have seen it--two-hundred-guinea plants are not
common spectacles. It has an immense flower, rose-purple; the lip
purple-magenta, veined with gold. _Cattleya Sanderiana_ offers an
interesting story. Mr. Mau, one of Mr. Sander's collectors, was
despatched to Bogota in search of _Odontoglossum crispum_. While
tramping through the woods, he came across a very large Cattleya at
rest, and gathered such pieces as fell in his way--attaching so little
importance to them, however, that he did not name the matter in his
reports. Four cases Mr. Mau brought home with his stock of
Odontoglossums, which were opened in due course of business. We can
quite believe that it was one of the stirring moments of Mr. Sander's
life. The plants bore many dry specimens of last year's inflorescence,
displaying such extraordinary size as proved the variety to be new; and
there is no large Cattleya of indifferent colouring. To receive a plant
of that character unannounced, undescribed, is an experience without
parallel for half a century. Mr. Mau was sent back by next mail to
secure every fragment he could find. Meantime, those in hand were
established, and Mr. Brymer, M.P., bought one--Mr. Brymer is
immortalized by the Dendrobe which bears his name. The new Cattleya
proved kindly, and just before Mr. Mau returned with some thousands of
its like Mr. Brymer's purchase broke into bloom. That must have been
another glorious moment for Mr. Sander, when the great bud unfolded,
displaying sepals and petals of the rosiest, freshest, softest pink,
eleven inches across; and a crimson labellum exquisitely shown up by a
broad patch of white on either side of the throat. Mr. Brymer was good
enough to lend his specimen for the purpose of advertisement, and
Messrs. Stevens enthusiastically fixed a green baize partition across
their rooms as a background for the wondrous novelty. What excitement
reigned there on the great day is not to be described. I have heard that
over 2000l. was taken in the room.

Most of the Cattleyas with which the public is familiar--_Mossiæ_,
_Trianæ_, _Mendellii_, and so forth--have white varieties; but an
example absolutely pure is so uncommon that it fetches a long price.
Loveliest of these is _C. Skinneri alba_. For generations, if not for
ages, the people of Costa Rica have been gathering every morsel they can
find, and planting it upon the roofs of their mud-built churches. Roezl
and the early collectors had a "good time," buying these semi-sacred
flowers from the priests, bribing the parishioners to steal them, or,
when occasion served, playing the thief themselves. But the game is
nearly up. Seldom now can a piece of _Cat. Skinneri alba_ be obtained by
honest means, and when a collector arrives guards are set upon the
churches that still keep their decoration. No plant has ever been found
in the forest, we understand.

It is just the same case with _Loelia anceps alba_. The genus Loelia
is distinguished from Cattleya by a peculiarity to be remarked only in
dissection; its pollen masses are eight as against four. To my taste,
however, the species are more charming on the whole. There is _L.
purpurata_. Casual observers always find it hard to grasp the fact that
orchids are weeds in their native homes, just like foxgloves and
dandelions with us. In this instance, as I have noted, they flatly
refuse to believe, and certainly "upon the face of it" their incredulity
is reasonable.

_Loelia purpurata_ falls under the head of hot orchids. _L. anceps_,
however, is not so exacting; many people grow it in the cool house when
they can expose it there to the full blaze of sunshine. In its commonest
form it is divinely beautiful. I have seen a plant in Mr. Eastey's
collection with twenty-three spikes, the flowers all open at once. Such
a spectacle is not to be described in prose. But when the enthusiast has
rashly said that earth contains no more ethereal loveliness, let him
behold _L. a. alba_, the white variety. The dullest man I ever knew, who
had a commonplace for all occasions, found no word in presence of that
marvel. Even the half-castes of Mexico who have no soul, apparently, for
things above horseflesh and cockfights, and love-making, reverence this
saintly bloom. The Indians adore it. Like their brethren to the south,
who have tenderly removed every plant of _Cattleya Skinneri alba_ for
generations unknown, to set upon their churches, they collect this
supreme effort of Nature and replant it round their huts. So thoroughly
has the work been done in either case that no single specimen was ever
seen in the forest. Every one has been bought from the Indians, and the
supply is exhausted; that is to say, a good many more are known to
exist, but very rarely now can the owner be persuaded to part with one.
The first example reached England nearly half a century ago, sent
probably by a native trader to his correspondent in this country; but,
as was usual at that time, the circumstances are doubtful. It found its
way, somehow, to Mr. Dawson, of Meadowbank, a famous collector, and by
him it was divided. Search was made for the treasure in its home, but
vainly; travellers did not look in the Indian gardens. No more arrived
for many years. Mr. Sander once conceived a fine idea. He sent one of
his collectors to gather _Loelia a. alba_ at the season when it is in
bud, with an intention of startling the universe by displaying a mass of
them in full bloom; they were still more uncommon then than now, when a
dozen flowering plants is still a show of which kings may be proud. Mr.
Bartholomeus punctually fulfilled his instructions, collected some forty
plants with their spikes well developed; attached them to strips of wood
which he nailed across shallow boxes, and shipped them to San Francisco.
Thence they travelled by fast train to New York, and proceeded without a
moment's delay to Liverpool on board the _Umbria_; it was one of her
first trips. All went well. Confidently did Mr. Sander anticipate the
sensation when a score of those glorious plants were set out in full
bloom upon the tables. But on opening the boxes he found every spike
withered. The experiment is so tempting that it has been essayed once
more, with a like result. The buds of _Loelia anceps_ will not stand
sea air.

Catasetums do not rank as a genus among our beauties; in fact, saving
_C. pileatum_, commonly called _C. Bungerothi_, and _C. barbatum_, I
think of none, at this moment, which are worthy of attraction on that
ground. _C. fimbriatum_, indeed, would be lovely if it could be
persuaded to show itself. I have seen one plant which condescended to
open its spotted blooms, but only one. No orchids, however, give more
material for study; on this account Catasetum was a favourite with Mr.
Darwin. It is approved also by unlearned persons who find relief from
the monotony of admiration as they stroll round in observing its
acrobatic performances. The "column" bears two horns; if these be
touched, the pollen-masses fly as if discharged from a catapult. _C.
pileatum_, however, is very handsome, four inches across, ivory white,
with a round well in the centre of its broad lip, which makes a theme
for endless speculation. The daring eccentricities of colour in this
class of plant have no stronger example than _C. callosum_, a novelty
from Caraccas, with inky brown sepals and petals, brightest orange
column, labellum of verdigris-green tipped with orange to match.

Schomburgkias are not often seen. Having a boundless choice of fine
things which grow and flower without reluctance, the practical gardener
gets irritated in these days when he finds a plant beyond his skill. It
is a pity, for the Schomburgkias are glorious things--in especial _Sch.
tibicinis_. No description has done it justice, and few are privileged
to speak as eye-witnesses. The clustering flowers hang down, sepals and
petals of dusky mauve, most gracefully frilled and twisted, encircling a
great hollow labellum which ends in a golden drop. That part of the
cavity which is visible between the handsome incurved wings has bold
stripes of dark crimson. The species is interesting, too. It comes from
Honduras, where the children use its great hollow pseudo-bulbs as
trumpets--whence the name. At their base is a hole--a touch-hole, as we
may say, the utility of which defies our botanists. Had Mr. Belt
travelled in those parts, he might have discovered the secret, as in the
similar case of the Bullthorn, one of the _Gummiferæ_. The great thorns
of that bush have just such a hole, and Mr. Belt proved by lengthy
observations that it is designed, to speak roughly, for the ingress of
an ant peculiar to that acacia, whose duty it is to defend the young
shoots--_vide_ Belt's "Naturalist in Nicaragua," page 218. Importers are
too well aware that _Schomburgkia tibicinis_ also is inhabited by an ant
of singular ferocity, for it survives the voyage, and rushes forth to
battle when the case is opened. We may suppose that it performs a like

Dendrobiums are "warm" mostly; of the hot species, which are many, and
the cool, which are few, I have not to speak here. But a remark made at
the beginning of this chapter especially applies to Dendrobes. If they
be started early, so that the young growths are well advanced by June 1;
if the situation be warm, and a part of the house sunny--if they be
placed in that part without any shade till July, and freely
syringed--with a little extra attention many of them will do well
enough. That is to say, they will make such a show of blossom as is
mighty satisfactory in the winter time. We must not look for
"specimens," but there should be bloom enough to repay handsomely the
very little trouble they give. Among those that may be treated so are
_D. Wardianum_, _Falconeri_, _crassinode_, _Pierardii_, _crystallinum_,
_Devonianum_--sometimes--and _nobile_, of course. Probably there are
more, but these I have tried myself.

_Dendrobium Wardianum_, at the present day, comes almost exclusively
from Burmah--the neighbourhood of the Ruby Mines is its favourite
habitat. But it was first brought to England from Assam in 1858, when
botanists regarded it as a form of _D. Falconeri_. This error was not so
strange as its seems, for the Assamese variety has pseudo-bulbs much
less sturdy than those we are used to see, and they are quite pendulous.
It was rather a lively business collecting orchids in Burmah before the
annexation. The Roman Catholic missionaries established there made it a
source of income, and they did not greet an intruding stranger with
warmth--not genial warmth, at least. He was forbidden to quit the town
of Bhamo, an edict which compelled him to employ native collectors--in
fact, coolies--himself waiting helplessly within the walls; but his
reverend rivals, having greater freedom and an acquaintance with the
language, organized a corps of skirmishers to prowl round and intercept
the natives returning with their loads. Doubtless somebody received the
value when they made a haul, but who, is uncertain perhaps--and the
stranger was disappointed, anyhow. It may be believed that unedifying
scenes arose--especially on two or three occasions when an agent had
almost reached one of the four gates before he was intercepted. For the
hapless collector--having nothing in the world to do--haunted those
portals all day long, flying from one to the other in hope to see
"somebody coming." Very droll, but Burmah is a warm country for jests
of the kind. Thus it happened occasionally that he beheld his own
discomfiture, and rows ensued at the Mission-house. At length Mr. Sander
addressed a formal petition to the Austrian Archbishop, to whom the
missionaries owed allegiance. He received a sympathetic answer, and some

From the Ruby Mines also comes a Dendrobium so excessively rare that I
name it only to call the attention of employés in the new company. This
is _D. rhodopterygium_. Sir Trevor Lawrence has or had a plant, I
believe; there are two or three at St. Albans; but the lists of other
dealers will be searched in vain. Sir Trevor Lawrence had also a scarlet
species from Burmah; but it died even before the christening, and no
second has yet been found. Sumatra furnishes a scarlet Dendrobe, _D.
Forstermanni_, but it again is of the utmost rarity. Baron Schroeder
boasts three specimens--which have not yet flowered, however. From
Burmah comes _D. Brymerianum_, of which the story is brief, but very
thrilling if we ponder it a moment. For the missionaries sent this plant
to Europe without a description--they had not seen the bloom,
doubtless--and it sold cheap enough. We may fancy Mr. Brymer's emotion,
therefore, when the striking flower opened. Its form is unique, though
some other varieties display a long fringe--as that extraordinary
object, _Nanodes Medusæ_, and also _Brassavola Digbyana_, which is
exquisitely lovely sometimes. In the case of _D. Brymerianum_ the bright
yellow lip is split all round, for two-thirds of its expanse, into
twisted filaments. We may well ask what on earth is Nature's purpose in
this eccentricity; but it is a question that arises every hour to the
most thoughtless being who grows orchids.

Reduced To One Fourth.]

Everybody knows _Dendrobium nobile_ so well that it is not to be
discussed in prose; something might be done in poetry, perhaps, by young
gentlemen who sing of buttercups and daisies, but the rhyme would be
difficult. _D. nobile nobilius_, however, is by no means so
common--would it were! This glorified form turned up among an
importation made by Messrs. Rollisson. They propagated it, and sold four
small pieces, which are still in cultivation. But the troubles of that
renowned firm, to which we owe so great a debt, had already begun. The
mother-plant was neglected. It had fallen into such a desperate
condition when Messrs. Rollisson's plants were sold, under a decree in
bankruptcy, that the great dealers refused to bid for what should have
been a little gold-mine. A casual market-gardener hazarded thirty
shillings, brought it round so far that he could establish a number of
young plants, and sold the parent for forty pounds at last. There are,
however, several fine varieties of _D. nobile_ more valuable than
_nobilius_. _D. n. Sanderianum_ resembles that form, but it is smaller
and darker. Albinos have been found; Baron Schroeder has a beautiful
example. One appeared at Stevens' Rooms, announced as the single
instance in cultivation--which is not quite the fact, but near enough
for the auction-room, perhaps. It also was imported originally by Mr.
Sander, with _D. n. Sanderianum_. Biddings reached forty-three pounds,
but the owner would not deal at the price. Albinos are rare among the

_D. nobile Cooksoni_ was the _fons et origo_ of an unpleasant
misunderstanding. It turned up in the collection of Mr. Lange,
distinguished by a reversal of the ordinary scheme of colour. There is
actually no end to the delightful vagaries of these plants. If people
only knew what interest and pleasing excitement attends the
inflorescence of an imported orchid--one, that is, which has not bloomed
before in Europe--they would crowd the auction-rooms in which every
strange face is marked now. There are books enough to inform them,
certainly; but who reads an Orchid Book? Even the enthusiast only
consults it.

_Dendrobium nobile Cooksoni_, then, has white tips to petal and sepal;
the crimson spot keeps its place; and the inside of the flower is deep
red--an inversion of the usual colouring. Mr. Lange could scarcely fail
to observe this peculiarity, but he seems to have thought little of it.
Mr. Cookson, paying him a visit, was struck, however--as well he might
be--and expressed a wish to have the plant. So the two distinguished
amateurs made an exchange. Mr. Cookson sent a flower at once to
Professor Reichenbach, who, delighted and enthusiastic, registered it
upon the spot under the name of the gentleman from whom he received it.
Mr. Lange protested warmly, demanding that his discovery should be
called, after his residence, _Heathfieldsayeanum_. But Professor
Reichenbach drily refused to consider personal questions; and really,
seeing how short is life, and how long _Dendrobium nobile Heathfield_,
&c., true philanthropists will hold him justified.

We may expect wondrous Dendrobes from New Guinea. Some fine species have
already arrived, and others have been sent in the dried inflorescence.
Of _D. phaloenopsis Schroederi_ I have spoken elsewhere. There is _D.
Goldiei_; a variety of _D. superbiens_--but much larger. There is _D.
Albertesii_, snow-white; _D. Broomfieldianum_, curiously like _Loelia
anceps alba_ in its flower--which is to say that it must be the
loveliest of all Dendrobes. But this species has a further charm, almost
incredible. The lip in some varieties is washed with lavender blue, in
some with crimson! Another is nearly related to _D. bigibbum_, but much
larger, with sepals more acute. Its hue is a glorious rosy-purple,
deepening on the lip, the side lobes of which curl over and meet,
forming a cylindrical tube, while the middle lobe, prolonged, stands out
at right angles, veined with very dark purple; this has just been named
_D. Statterianum_. It has upon the disc an elevated, hairy crest, like
_D. bigibbum_, but instead of being white as always, more or less, in
that instance, the crest of the new species is dark purple. I have been
particular in describing this noble flower, because very, very few have
beheld it. Those who live will see marvels when the Dutch and German
portions of New Guinea are explored.

Recently I have been privileged to see another, the most impressive to
my taste, of all the lovely genus. It is called _D. atro-violaceum_. The
stately flowers hang down their heads, reflexed like a "Turban Lily,"
ten or a dozen on a spike. The colour is ivory-white, with a faintest
tinge of green, and green spots are dotted all over. The lobes of the
lip curl in, making half the circumference of a funnel, the outside of
which is dark violet-blue; with that fine colour the lip itself is
boldly striped. They tell me that the public is not expected to "catch
on" to this marvel. It hangs its head too low, and the contrast of hues
is too startling. If that be so, we multiply schools of art and County
Council lectures perambulate the realm, in vain. The artistic sense is
denied us.

Madagascar also will furnish some astonishing novelties; it has already
begun, in fact--with a vengeance. Imagine a scarlet Cymbidium! That such
a wonder existed has been known for some years, and three collectors
have gone in search of it; two died, and the third has been terribly ill
since his return to Europe--but he won the treasure, which we shall
behold in good time. Those parts of Madagascar which especially attract
botanists must be death-traps indeed! M. Léon Humblot tells how he dined
at Tamatave with his brother and six compatriots, exploring the country
with various scientific aims. Within twelve months he was the only
survivor. One of these unfortunates, travelling on behalf of Mr. Cutler,
the celebrated naturalist of Bloomsbury Street, to find butterflies and
birds, shot at a native idol, as the report goes. The priests soaked
him with paraffin, and burnt him on a table--perhaps their altar. M.
Humblot himself has had awful experiences. He was attached to the
geographical survey directed by the French Government, and ten years ago
he found _Phajus Humblotii_ and _Phajus tuberculosus_ in the deadliest
swamps of the interior. A few of the bulbs gathered lived through the
passage home, and caused much excitement when offered for sale at
Stevens' Auction Rooms. M. Humblot risked his life again, and secured a
great quantity for Mr. Sander, but at a dreadful cost. He spent twelve
months in the hospital at Mayotte, and on arrival at Marseilles with his
plants the doctors gave him no hope of recovery. _P. Humblotii_ is a
marvel of beauty--rose-pink, with a great crimson labellum exquisitely
frilled, and a bright green column.

Everybody who knows his "Darwin" is aware that Madagascar is the chosen
home of the Angræcums. All, indeed, are natives of Africa, so far as I
know, excepting the delightful _A. falcatum_, which comes, strangely
enough, from Japan. One cannot but suspect, under the circumstances,
that this species was brought from Africa ages ago, when the Japanese
were enterprising seamen, and has been acclimatized by those skilful
horticulturists. It is certainly odd that the only "cool" Aerides--the
only one found, I believe, outside of India and the Eastern
Tropics--also belongs to Japan, and a cool Dendrobe, _A. arcuatum_, is
found in the Transvaal; and I have reason to hope that another or more
will turn up when South Africa is thoroughly searched. A pink Angræcum,
very rarely seen, dwells somewhere on the West Coast; the only species,
so far as I know, which is not white. It bears the name of M. Du
Chaillu, who found it--he has forgotten where, unhappily. I took that
famous traveller to St. Albans in the hope of quickening his
recollection, and I fear I bored him afterwards with categorical
inquiries. But all was vain. M. Du Chaillu can only recall that once on
a time, when just starting for Europe, it occurred to him to run into
the bush and strip the trees indiscriminately. Mr. Sander was prepared
to send a man expressly for this Angræcum. The exquisite _A.
Sanderianum_ is a native of the Comorro Islands. No flower could be
prettier than this, nor more deliciously scented--when scented it is! It
grows in a climate which travellers describe as Paradise, and, in truth,
it becomes such a scene. Those who behold young plants with graceful
garlands of snowy bloom twelve to twenty inches long are prone to fall
into raptures; but imagine it as a long-established specimen appears
just now at St Albans, with racemes drooping two and a half feet from
each new growth, clothed on either side with flowers like a double train
of white long-tailed butterflies hovering! _A. Scottianum_ comes from
Zanzibar, discovered, I believe, by Sir John Kirk; _A. caudatum_, from
Sierra Leone. This latter species is the nearest rival of _A.
sesquipedale_, showing "tails" ten inches long. Next in order for this
characteristic detail rank _A. Leonis_ and _Kotschyi_--the latter rarely
grown--with seven-inch "tails;" _Scottianum_ and _Ellisii_ with
six-inch; that is to say, they ought to show such dimensions
respectively. Whether they fulfil their promise depends upon the grower.

With the exceptions named, this family belongs to Madagascar. It has a
charming distinction, shared by no other genus which I recall, save, in
less degree, Cattleya--every member is attractive. But I must
concentrate myself on the most striking--that which fascinated Darwin.
In the first place it should be pointed out that _savants_ call this
plant _Æranthus sesquipedalis_, not _Angræcum_--a fact useful to know,
but unimportant to ordinary mortals. It was discovered by the Rev. Mr.
Ellis, and sent home alive, nearly thirty years ago; but civilized
mankind has not yet done wondering at it. The stately growth, the
magnificent green-white flowers, command admiration at a glance, but the
"tail," or spur, offers a problem of which the thoughtful never tire. It
is commonly ten inches long, sometimes fourteen inches, and at home, I
have been told, even longer; about the thickness of a goose-quill,
hollow, of course, the last inch and a half filled with nectar. Studying
this appendage by the light of the principles he had laid down, Darwin
ventured on a prophecy which roused special mirth among the unbelievers.
Not only the abnormal length of the nectary had to be considered; there
was, besides, the fact that all its honey lay at the base, a foot or
more from the orifice. Accepting it as a postulate that every detail of
the apparatus must be equally essential for the purpose it had to serve,
he made a series of experiments which demonstrated that some insect of
Madagascar--doubtless a moth--must be equipped with a proboscis long
enough to reach the nectar, and at the same time thick enough at the
base to withdraw the pollinia--thus fertilizing the bloom. For, if the
nectar had lain so close to the orifice that moths with a proboscis of
reasonable length and thickness could get at it, they would drain the
cup without touching the pollinia. Darwin never proved his special
genius more admirably than in this case. He created an insect beyond
belief, as one may say, by the force of logic; and such absolute
confidence had he in his own syllogism that he declared, "If such great
moths were to become extinct in Madagascar, assuredly this Angræcum
would become extinct." I am not aware that Darwin's fine argument has
yet been clinched by the discovery of that insect. But cavil has ceased.
Long before his death a sphinx moth arrived from South Brazil which
shows a proboscis between ten and eleven inches long--very nearly equal,
therefore, to the task of probing the nectary of _Angræcum
sesquipidale_. And we know enough of orchids at this time to be
absolutely certain that the Madagascar species must exist.


[Footnote 4: _Vide_ "The Lost Orchid," _infra_, p. 173.]

[Footnote 5: I have learned by a doleful experience that this fly,
commonly called "the weavil," is quite at home on _Loelia purpurata_;
in fact, it will prey on any Cattleya.]


In former chapters I have done my best to show that orchid culture is no
mystery. The laws which govern it are strict and simple, easy to define
in books, easily understood, and subject to few exceptions. It is not
with Odontoglossums and Dendrobes as with roses--an intelligent man or
woman needs no long apprenticeship to master their treatment. Stove
orchids are not so readily dealt with; but then, persons who own a stove
usually keep a gardener. Coming from the hot lowlands of either
hemisphere, they show much greater variety than those of the temperate
and sub-tropic zones; there are more genera, though not so many species,
and more exceptions to every rule. These, therefore, are not to be
recommended to all householders. Not everyone indeed is anxious to grow
plants which need a minimum night heat of 60° in winter, 70° in summer,
and cannot dispense with fire the whole year round.

The hottest of all orchids probably is _Peristeria elata_, the famous
"Spirito Santo," flower of the Holy Ghost. The dullest soul who observes
that white dove rising with wings half spread, as in the very act of
taking flight, can understand the frenzy of the Spaniards when they came
upon it. Rumours of Peruvian magnificence had just reached them at
Panama--on the same day, perhaps--when this miraculous sign from heaven
encouraged them to advance. The empire of the Incas did not fall a prey
to that particular band of ruffians, nevertheless. _Peristeria elata_ is
so well known that I would not dwell upon it, but an odd little tale
rises to my mind. The great collector Roezl was travelling homeward, in
1868, by Panama. The railway fare to Colon was sixty dollars at that
time, and he grudged the money. Setting his wits to work, Roezl
discovered that the company issued tickets from station to station at a
very low price for the convenience of its employés. Taking advantage of
this system, he crossed the isthmus for five dollars--such an advantage
it is in travelling to be an old campaigner! At one of the intermediate
stations he had to wait for his train, and rushed into the jungle of
course. _Peristeria_ abounded in that steaming swamp, but the collector
was on holiday. To his amazement, however, he found, side by side with
it, a Masdevallia--that genus most impatient of sunshine among all
orchids, flourishing here in the hottest blaze! Snatching up half a
dozen of the tender plants with a practised hand, he brought them safe
to England. On the day they were put up to auction news of Livingstone's
death arrived, and in a flash of inspiration Roezl christened his
novelty _M. Livingstoniana_. Few, indeed, even among authorities, know
where that rarest of Masdevallias has its home; none have reached Europe
since. A pretty flower it is--white, rosy tipped, with yellow "tails."
And it dwells by the station of Culebras, on the Panama railway.

Of genera, however, doubtless the Vandas are hottest; and among these,
_V. Sanderiana_ stands first. It was found in Mindanao, the most
southerly of the Philippines, by Mr. Roebelin when he went thither in
search of the red Phaloenopsis, as will be told presently. _Vanda
Sanderiana_ is a plant to be described as majestic rather than lovely,
if we may distinguish among these glorious things. Its blooms are five
inches across, pale lilac in their ground colour, suffused with brownish
yellow, and covered with a network of crimson brown. Twelve or more of
such striking flowers to a spike, and four or five spikes upon a plant
make a wonder indeed. But, to view matters prosaically, _Vanda_
_Sanderiana_ is "bad business." It is not common, and it grows on the
very top of the highest trees, which must be felled to secure the
treasure; and of those gathered but a small proportion survive. In the
first place, the agent must employ natives, who are paid so much per
plant, no matter what the size--a bad system, but they will allow no
change. It is evidently their interest to divide any "specimen" that
will bear cutting up; if the fragments bleed to death, they have got
their money meantime. Then, the Manilla steamers call at Mindanao only
once a month. Three months are needed to get together plants enough to
yield a fair profit. At the end of that time a large proportion of those
first gathered will certainly be doomed--Vandas have no pseudo-bulbs to
sustain their strength. Steamers run from Manilla to Singapore every
fortnight. If the collector be fortunate he may light upon a captain
willing to receive his packages; in that case he builds structures of
bamboo on deck, and spends the next fortnight in watering, shading, and
ventilating his precious _trouvailles_, alternately. But captains
willing to receive such freight must be waited for too often. At
Singapore it is necessary to make a final overhauling of the plants--to
their woeful diminution. This done, troubles recommence. Seldom will
the captain of a mail steamer accept that miscellaneous cargo. Happily,
the time of year is, or ought to be, that season when tea-ships arrive
at Singapore. The collector may reasonably hope to secure a passage in
one of these, which will carry him to England in thirty-five days or so.
If this state of things be pondered, even without allowance for
accident, it will not seem surprising that _V. Sanderiana_ is a costly
species. The largest piece yet secured was bought by Sir Trevor Lawrence
at auction for ninety guineas. It had eight stems, the tallest four feet
high. No consignment has yet returned a profit, however.

The favoured home of Vandas is Java. They are noble plants even when at
rest, if perfect--that is, clothed in their glossy, dark green leaves
from base to crown. If there be any age or any height at which the lower
leaves fall of necessity, I have not been able to identify it. In Mr.
Sander's collection, for instance, there is a giant plant of _Vanda
suavis_, eleven growths, a small thicket, established in 1847. The
tallest stem measures fifteen feet, and every one of its leaves remain.
They fall off easily under bad treatment, but the mischief is reparable
at a certain sacrifice. The stem may be cut through and the crown
replanted, with leaves perfect; but it will be so much shorter, of
course. The finest specimen I ever heard of is the _V. Lowii_ at
Ferrières, seat of Baron Alphonse de Rothschild, near Paris. It fills
the upper part of a large greenhouse, and year by year its twelve stems
produce an indefinite number of spikes, eight to ten feet long, covered
with thousands of yellow and brown blooms.[6] Vandas inhabit all the
Malayan Archipelago; some are found even in India. The superb _V. teres_
comes from Sylhet; from Burmah also. This might be called the floral
cognizance of the house of Rothschild. At Frankfort, Vienna, Ferrières,
and Gunnersbury little meadows of it are grown--that is, the plants
flourish at their own sweet will, uncumbered with pots, in houses
devoted to them. Rising from a carpet of palms and maidenhair, each
crowned with its drooping garland of rose and crimson and
cinnamon-brown, they make a glorious show indeed. A pretty little
coincidence was remarked when the Queen paid a visit to Waddesdon the
other day. _V. teres_ first bloomed in Europe at Syon House, and a small
spray was sent to the young Princess, unmarried then and uncrowned. The
incident recurred to memory when Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild chose
this same flower for the bouquet presented to Her Majesty; he adorned
the luncheon table therewith besides. This story bears a moral. The
plant of which one spray was a royal gift less than sixty years ago has
become so far common that it may be used in masses to decorate a room.
Thousands of unconsidered subjects of Her Majesty enjoy the pleasure
which one great duke monopolized before her reign began. There is matter
for an essay here. I hasten back to my theme.

_V. teres_ is not such a common object that description would be
superfluous. It belongs to the small class of climbing orchids,
delighting to sun itself upon the rafters of the hottest stove. If this
habit be duly regarded, it is not difficult to flower by any means,
though gardeners who do not keep pace with their age still pronounce it
a hopeless rebel. Sir Hugh Low tells me that he clothed all the trees
round Government House at Pahang with _Vanda teres_, planting its near
relative, _V. Hookeri_, more exquisite still, if that were possible, in
a swampy hollow. His servants might gather a basket of these flowers
daily in the season. So the memory of the first President for Pahang
will be kept green. A plant rarely seen is _V. limbata_ from the island
of Timor--dusky yellow, the tip purple, outlined with white, formed
like a shovel.

I may cite a personal reminiscence here, in the hope that some reader
may be able to supply what is wanting. In years so far back that they
seem to belong to a "previous existence," I travelled in Borneo, and
paid a visit to the antimony-mines of Bidi. The manager, Mr. Bentley,
showed me a grand tapong-tree at his door from which he had lately
gathered a "blue orchid,"--we were desperately vague about names in the
jungle at that day, or in England for that matter. In a note published
on my return, I said, "As Mr. Bentley described it, the blossoms hung in
an azure garland from the bough, more gracefully than art could design."
This specimen is, I believe, the only one at present known, and both
Malays and Dyaks are quite ignorant of such a flower! What was this?
There is no question of the facts. Mr. Bentley sent the plant, a large
mass to the chairman of the Company, and it reached home in fair
condition. I saw the warm letter, enclosing cheque for 100l., in which
Mr. Templar acknowledged receipt. But further record I have not been
able to discover. One inclines to assume that a blue orchid which puts
forth a "garland" of bloom must be a Vanda. The description might be
applied to _V. coerulea_, but that species is a native of the Khasya
hills; more appropriately, as I recall Mr. Bentley's words, to _V.
coerulescens_, which, however, is Burmese. Furthermore, neither of
these would be looked for on the branch of a great tree. Possibly
someone who reads this may know what became of Mr. Templar's specimen.

Both the species of Renanthera need great heat. Among "facts not
generally known" to orchid-growers, but decidedly interesting for them,
is the commercial habitat, as one may say, of _R. coccinea_. The books
state correctly that it is a native of Cochin China. Orchids coming from
such a distance must needs be withered on arrival. Accordingly, the most
experienced horticulturist who is not up to a little secret feels
assured that all is well when he beholds at the auction-room or at one
of the small dealer's a plant full of sap, with glossy leaves and
unshrivelled roots. It must have been in cultivation for a year at the
very least, and he buys with confidence. Too often, however, a
disastrous change sets in from the very moment his purchase reaches
home. Instead of growing it falls back and back, until in a very few
weeks it has all the appearance of a newly-imported piece. The
explanation is curious. At some time, not distant, a quantity of _R.
coccinea_ must have found its way to the neighbourhood of Rio. There it
flourishes as a weed, with a vigour quite unparalleled in its native
soil. Unscrupulous persons take advantage of this extraordinary
accident. From a country so near and so readily accessible they can get
plants home, pot them up, and sell them, before the withering process
sets in. May this revelation confound such knavish tricks! The moral is
old--buy your orchids from one of the great dealers, if you do not care
to "establish" them yourself.

_R. coccinea_ is another of the climbing species, and it demands, even
more urgently than _V. teres_, to reach the top of the house, where
sunshine is fiercest, before blooming. Under the best conditions,
indeed, it is slow to produce its noble wreaths of flower--deep red,
crimson, and orange. Upon the other hand, the plant itself is
ornamental, and it grows very fast. The Duke of Devonshire has some at
Chatsworth which never fail to make a gorgeous show in their season; but
they stand twenty feet high, twisted round birch-trees, and they have
occupied their present quarters for half a century or near it. There is
but one more species in the genus, so far as the unlearned know, but
this, generally recognized as _Vanda Lowii_, as has been already
mentioned, ranks among the grand curiosities of botanic science. Like
some of the Catasetums and Cycnoches, it bears two distinct types of
flower on each spike, but the instance of _R. Lowii_ is even more
perplexing. In those other cases the differing forms represent male and
female sex, but the microscope has not yet discovered any sort of reason
for the like eccentricity of this Renanthera. Its proper inflorescence,
as one may put it, is greenish yellow, blotched with brown, three inches
in diameter, clothing a spike sometimes twelve feet long. The first two
flowers to open, however--those at the base--present a strong contrast
in all respects--smaller, of different shape, tawny yellow in colour,
dotted with crimson. It would be a pleasing task for ingenious youth
with a bent towards science to seek the utility of this arrangement.

Orchids are spreading fast over the world in these days, and we may
expect to hear of other instances where a species has taken root in
alien climes like _R. coccinea_ in Brazil. I cannot cite a parallel at
present. But Mr. Sander informs me that there is a growing demand for
these plants in realms which have their own native orchids. We have an
example in the letter which has been already quoted.[7] Among customers
who write to him direct are magnates of China and Siam, an Indian and a
Javanese rajah. Orders are received--not unimportant, nor
infrequent--from merchants at Calcutta, Singapore, Hong Kong, Rio de
Janeiro, and smaller places, of course. It is vastly droll to hear that
some of these gentlemen import species at a great expense which an
intelligent coolie could gather for them in any quantity within a few
furlongs of their go-down! But for the most part they demand foreigners.

The plants thus distributed will be grown in the open air; naturally
they will seed; at least, we may hope so. Even _Angræcum sesquipedale_,
of which I wrote in the preceding chapter, would find a moth able to
impregnate it in South Brazil. Such species as recognize the conditions
necessary for their existence will establish themselves. It is fairly
safe to credit that in some future time, not distant, Cattleyas may
flourish in the jungles of India, Dendrobiums on the Amazons,
Phaloenopsis in the coast lands of Central America. Those who wish well
to their kind would like to hasten that day.

Mr. Burbidge suggested at the Orchid Conference that gentlemen who have
plantations in a country suitable should establish a "farm," or rather
a market-garden, and grow the precious things for exportation. It is an
excellent idea, and when tea, coffee, sugar-cane, all the regular crops
of the East and West Indies, are so depreciated by competition, one
would think that some planters might adopt it. Perhaps some have; it is
too early yet for results. Upon inquiry I hear of a case, but it is not
encouraging. One of Mr. Sander's collectors, marrying when on service in
the United States of Colombia, resolved to follow Mr. Burbidge's advice.
He set up his "farm" and began "hybridizing" freely. No man living is
better qualified as a collector, for the hero of this little tale is Mr.
Kerbach, a name familiar among those who take interest in such matters;
but I am not aware that he had any experience in growing orchids. To
start with hybridizing seems very ambitious--too much of a short cut to
fortune. However, in less than eighteen months Mr. Kerbach found it did
not answer, for reasons unexplained, and he begged to be reinstated in
Mr. Sander's service. It is clear, indeed, that the orchid-farmer of the
future, in whose success I firmly believe, will be wise to begin
modestly, cultivating the species he finds in his neighbourhood. It is
not in our greenhouses alone that these plants sometimes show likes and
dislikes beyond explanation. For example, many gentlemen in Costa
Rica--a wealthy land, and comparatively civilized--have tried to
cultivate the glorious _Cattleya Dowiana_. For business purposes also
the attempt has been made. But never with success. In those tropical
lands a variation of climate or circumstances, small perhaps, but such
as plants that subsist mostly upon air can recognize, will be found in a
very narrow circuit. We say that Trichopilias have their home at Bogota.
As a matter of fact, however, they will not live in the immediate
vicinity of that town, though the woods, fifteen miles away, are stocked
with them. The orchid-farmer will have to begin cautiously, propagating
what he finds at hand, and he must not be hasty in sending his crop to
market. It is a general rule of experience that plants brought from the
forest and "established" before shipment do less well than those shipped
direct in good condition, though the public, naturally, is slow to admit
a conclusion opposed by _à priori_ reasoning. The cause may be that they
exhaust their strength in that first effort, and suffer more severely on
the voyage.

I hear of one gentleman, however, who appears to be cultivating orchids
with success. This is Mr. Rand, dwelling on the Rio Negro, in Brazil,
where he has established a plantation of _Hevia Brazilienses_, a new
caoutchouc of the highest quality, indigenous to those parts. Some years
ago Mr. Rand wrote to Mr. Godseff, at St. Albans, begging plants of
_Vanda Sanderiana_ and other Oriental species, which were duly
forwarded. In return he despatched some pieces of a new Epidendrum,
named in his honour _E. Randii_, a noble flower, with brown sepals and
petals, the lip crimson, betwixt two large white wings. This and others
native to the Rio Negro Mr. Rand is propagating on a large scale in
shreds of bamboo, especially a white _Cattleya superba_ which he himself
discovered. It is pleasing to add that by latest reports all the
Oriental species were thriving to perfection on the other side of the

Vandas, indeed, should flourish where _Cattleya superba_ is at home, or
anything else that loves the atmosphere of a kitchen on washing-day at
midsummer. Though all the Cattleyas, or very nearly all, will "do" in an
intermediate house, several prefer the stove. Of two among them, _C.
Dowiana_ and _C. aurea_, I spoke in the preceding chapter with an
enthusiasm that does not bear repetition. _Cattleya guttata Leopoldi_
grows upon rocks in the little island of Sta. Catarina, Brazil, in
company with _Loelia elegans_ and _L. purpurata_. There the four dwelt
in such numbers only twenty years ago that the supply was thought
inexhaustible. It has come to an end already, and collectors no longer
visit the spot. Cliffs and ravines which men still young can recollect
ablaze with colour, are as bare now as a stone-quarry. Nature had done
much to protect her treasures; they flourished mostly in places which
the human foot cannot reach--_Loelia elegans_ and _Cattleya g.
Leopoldi_ inextricably entwined, clinging to the face of lofty rocks.
The blooms of the former are white and mauve, of the latter
chocolate-brown, spotted with dark red, the lip purple. A wondrous sight
that must have been in the time of flowering. It is lost now, probably
for ever. Natives went down, suspended on a rope, and swept the whole
circuit of the island, year by year. A few specimens remain in nooks
absolutely inaccessible, but those happy mortals who possess a bit of
_L. elegans_ should treasure it, for more are very seldom forthcoming.
_Loelia elegans Statteriana_ is the finest variety perhaps; the
crimson velvet tip of its labellum is as clearly and sharply-defined
upon the snow-white surface as pencil could draw; it looks like
painting by the steadiest of hands in angelic colour. _C. g. Leopoldi_
has been found elsewhere. It is deliciously scented. I observed a plant
at St. Albans lately with three spikes, each bearing over twenty
flowers; many strong perfumes there were in the house, but that
overpowered them all. The _Loelia purpurata_ of Sta. Catarina, to
which the finest varieties in cultivation belong, has shared the same
fate. It occupied boulders jutting out above the swamps in the full
glare of tropic sunshine. Many gardeners give it too much shade. This
species grows also on the mainland, but of inferior quality in all
respects; curiously enough it dwells upon trees there, even though rocks
be at hand, while the island variety, I believe, was never found on

Another hot Cattleya of the highest class is _C. Acklandiæ_ It belongs
to the dwarf section of the genus, and inexperienced persons are vastly
surprised to see such a little plant bearing two flowers on a spike,
each larger than itself. They are four inches in diameter, petals and
sepals chocolate-brown, barred with yellow, lip large, of colour varying
from rose to purple. _C. Acklandiæ_ is found at Bahia, where it grows
side by side with _C. amethystoglossa_, also a charming species, very
tall, leafless to the tip of its pseudo-bulbs. Thus the dwarf beneath
is seen in all its beauty. As they cling together in great masses the
pair must make a flower-bed to themselves--above, the clustered spikes
of _C. amethystoglossa_, dusky-lilac, purple-spotted, with a lip of
amethyst; upon the ground the rich chocolate and rose of _C. Acklandiæ_.

_Cattleya superba_, as has been said, dwells also on the Rio Negro in
Brazil; it has a wide range, for specimens have been sent from the Rio
Meta in Colombia. This species is not loved by gardeners, who find it
difficult to cultivate and almost impossible to flower, probably because
they cannot give it sunshine enough. I have heard that Baron Hruby, a
Hungarian enthusiast in our science, has no sort of trouble; wonders,
indeed, are reported of that admirable collection, where all the hot
orchids thrive like weeds. The Briton may find comfort in assuming that
cool species are happier beneath his cloudy skies; if he be prudent, he
will not seek to verify the assumption. The Assistant Curator of Kew
assures us, in his excellent little work, "Orchids," that the late Mr.
Spyers grew _C. superba_ well, and he details his method. I myself have
never seen the bloom. Mr. Watson describes it as five inches across,
"bright rosy-purple suffused with white, very fragrant, lip with acute
side lobes folding over the column,"--making a funnel, in short--"the
front lobe spreading, kidney-shaped, crimson-purple, with a blotch of
white and yellow in front."

In the same districts with _Cattleya superba_ grows _Galleandra
Devoniana_ under circumstances rather unusual. It clings to the very tip
of a slender palm, in swamps which the Indians themselves regard with
dread as the chosen home of fever and mosquitoes. It was discovered by
Sir Robert Schomburgk, who compared the flower to a foxglove, referring
especially, perhaps, to the graceful bend of its long pseudo-bulbs,
which is almost lost under cultivation. The tube-like flowers are
purple, contrasting exquisitely with a snow-white lip, striped with
lilac in the throat.

Phaloenopsis, of course, are hot. This is one of our oldest genera which
still rank in the first class. It was drawn and described so early as
1750, and a plant reached Messrs. Rollisson in 1838; they sold it to the
Duke of Devonshire for a hundred guineas. Many persons regard
Phaloenopsis as the loveliest of all, and there is no question of their
supreme beauty, though not everyone may rank them first. They come
mostly from the Philippines, but Java, Borneo, Cochin China, Burmah,
even Assam contribute some species. Colonel Berkeley found _Ph.
tetraspis_, snow-white, and _Ph. speciosa_, purple, in the Andamans,
when he was Governor of that settlement, clinging to low bushes along
the mangrove creeks. So far as I know, all the species dwell within
breath of the sea, as it may be put, where the atmosphere is laden with
salt; this gives a hint to the thoughtful. Mr. Partington, of Cheshunt,
who was the most renowned cultivator of the genus in his time, used to
lay down salt upon the paths and beneath the stages of his Phaloenopsis
house. Lady Howard de Walden stands first, perhaps, at the present day,
and her gardener follows the same system. These plants, indeed, are
affected, for good or ill, by influences too subtle for our perception
as yet. Experiment alone will decide whether a certain house, or a
certain neighbourhood even, is agreeable to their taste. It is a waste
of money in general to make alterations; if they do not like the place
they won't live there, and that's flat! It is probable that Maidstone,
where Lady Howard de Walden resides, may be specially suited to their
needs, but her ladyship's gardener knows how to turn a lucky chance to
the best account. Some of his plants have ten leaves!--the uninitiated
may think that fact grotesquely undeserving of a note of exclamation,
but to explain would be too technical. It may be observed that the
famous Swan orchid, _Cycnoches chlorochilon_, flourishes at Maidstone as
nowhere else perhaps in England.

Phaloenopsis were first introduced by Messrs. Rollisson, of Tooting, a
firm that vanished years ago, but will live in the annals of
horticulture as the earliest of the great importers. In 1836 they got
home a living specimen of _Ph. amabilis_, which had been described, and
even figured, eighty years before. A few months later the Duke of
Devonshire secured _Ph. Schilleriana_. The late Mr. B.S. Williams told
me a very curious incident relating to this species. It comes from the
Philippines, and exacts a very hot, close atmosphere of course. Once
upon a time, however, a little piece was left in the cool house at
Holloway, and remained there some months unnoticed by the authorities.
When at length the oversight was remarked, to their amaze this stranger
from the tropics, abandoned in the temperate zone, proved to be thriving
more vigorously than any of his fellows who enjoyed their proper
climate!--so he was left in peace and cherished as a "phenomenon." Four
seasons had passed when I beheld the marvel, and it was a picture of
health and strength, flowering freely; but the reader is not advised to
introduce a few Phaloenopsis to his Odontoglossums--not by any means.
Mr. Williams himself never repeated the experiment. It was one of those
delightfully perplexing vagaries which the orchid-grower notes from time
to time.

There are rare species of this genus which will not be found in the
dealers' catalogues, and amateurs who like a novelty may be pleased to
hear some names. _Ph. Manni_, christened in honour of Mr. Mann, Director
of the Indian Forest Department, is yellow and red; _Ph. cornucervi_,
yellow and brown; _Ph. Portei_, a natural hybrid, of _Ph. rosea_ and
_Ph. Aphrodite_, white, the lip amethyst. It is found very, very rarely
in the woods near Manilla. Above all, _Ph. Sanderiana_, to which hangs a
little tale.

So soon as the natives of the Philippines began to understand that their
white and lilac weeds were cherished in Europe, they talked of a scarlet
variety, which thrilled listening collectors with joy; but the precious
thing never came to hand, and, on closer inquiry, no responsible witness
could be found who had seen it. Years passed by and the scarlet
Phaloenopsis became a jest among orchidaceans. The natives persisted,
however, and Mr. Sander found the belief so general, if shadowy, that
when a service of coasting steamers was established, he sent Mr.
Roebelin to make a thorough investigation. His enterprise and sagacity
were rewarded, as usual. After floating round for twenty-five years
amidst derision, the rumour proved true in part. _Ph. Sanderiana_ is not
scarlet but purplish rose, a very handsome and distinct species.

To the same collector we owe the noblest of Aerides, _A. Lawrenciæ_,
waxy white tipped with purple, and deep purple lip. Besides the lovely
colouring it is the largest by far of that genus. Mr. Roebelin sent two
plants from the Far East; he had not seen the flower, nor received any
description from the natives. Mr. Sander grew them in equal ignorance
for three years, and sent one to auction in blossom; it fell to Sir
Trevor Lawrence's bid for 235 guineas.

Reduced to One Sixth]

Many of the Coelogenes classed as cool, which, indeed, rub along with
Odontoglossums, do better in the stove while growing. _Coel. cristata_
itself comes from Nepaul, where the summer sun is terrible, and it
covers the rocks most exposed. But I will only name a few of those
recognized as hot. Amongst the most striking of flowers, exquisitely
pretty also, is _Coel. pandurata_, from Borneo. Its spike has been
described by a person of fine fancy as resembling a row of glossy
pea-green frogs with black tongues, each three inches in diameter. The
whole bloom is brilliantly green, but several ridges clothed with hairs
as black and soft as velvet run down the lip, seeming to issue from a
mouth. It is strange to see that a plant so curious, so beautiful, and
so sweet should be so rarely cultivated; I own, however, that it is very
unwilling to make itself at home with us. _Coel. Dayana_, also a
native of Borneo, one of our newest discoveries, is named after Mr. Day,
of Tottenham. I may interpolate a remark here for the encouragement of
poor but enthusiastic members of our fraternity. When Mr. Day sold his
collection lately, an American "Syndicate" paid 12,000l. down, and the
remaining plants fetched 12,000l. at auction; so, at least, the
uncontradicted report goes. _Coel. Dayana_ is rare, of course, and
dear, but Mr. Sander has lately imported a large quantity. The spike is
three feet long sometimes, a pendant wreath of buff-yellow flowers
broadly striped with chocolate. _Coel. Massangeana_, from Assam,
resembles this, but the lip is deep crimson-brown, with lines of yellow,
and a white edge. Newest of all the Coelogenes, and supremely
beautiful, is _Coel. Sanderiana_, imported by the gentleman whose name
it bears. He has been called "The Orchid King." This superb species has
only flowered once in Europe as yet; Baron Ferdinand Rothschild is the
happy man. Its snow-white blooms, six on a spike generally, each three
inches across, have very dark brown stripes on the lip. It was
discovered in Borneo by Mr. Forstermann, the same collector who happed
upon the wondrous scarlet Dendrobe, mentioned in a former chapter. There
I stated that Baron Schroeder had three pieces; this was a mistake
unfortunately. Mr. Forstermann only secured three, of which two died on
the journey. Baron Schroeder bought the third, but it has perished. No
more can be found as yet.

Of Oncidiums there are many that demand stove treatment. The story of
_Onc. splendidum_ is curious. It first turned up in France some thirty
years ago. A ship's captain sailing from St. Lazare brought half a dozen
pieces, which he gave to his "owner," M. Herman. The latter handed them
to MM. Thibaut and Ketteler, of Sceaux, who split them up and
distributed them. Two of the original plants found their way to England,
and they also appear to have been cut up. A legend of the King Street
Auction Room recalls how perfervid competitors ran up a bit of _Onc.
splendidum_, that had only one leaf, to thirty guineas. The whole stock
vanished presently, which is not surprising if it had all been divided
in the same ruthless manner. From that day the species was lost until
Mr. Sander turned his attention to it. There was no record of its
habitat. The name of the vessel, or even of the captain, might have
furnished a clue had it been recorded, for the shipping intelligence of
the day would have shown what ports he was frequenting about that time.
I could tell of mysterious orchids traced home upon indications less
distinct. But there was absolutely nothing. Mr. Sander, however, had
scrutinized the plant carefully, while specimens were still extant, and
from the structure of the leaf he formed a strong conclusion that it
must belong to the Central American flora; furthermore, that it must
inhabit a very warm locality. In 1882 he directed one of his collectors,
Mr. Oversluys, to look for the precious thing in Costa Rica. Year after
year the search proceeded, until Mr. Oversluys declared with some warmth
that _Onc. splendidum_ might grow in heaven or in the other place, but
it was not to be found in Costa Rica. But theorists are stubborn, and
year after year he was sent back. At length, in 1882, riding through a
district often explored, the collector found himself in a grassy plain,
dotted with pale yellow flowers. He had beheld the same many times, but
his business was orchids. On this occasion, however, he chanced to
approach one of the masses, and recognized the object of his quest. It
was the familiar case of a man who overlooks the thing he has to find,
because it is too near and too conspicuous. But Mr. Oversluys had excuse
enough. Who could have expected to see an Oncidium buried in long grass,
exposed to the full power of a tropic sun?

_Oncidium Lanceanum_ is, perhaps, the hottest of its genus. Those happy
mortals who can grow it declare they have no trouble, but unless
perfectly strong and healthy it gets "the spot," and promptly goes to
wreck. In the houses of the "New Plant and Bulb Company," at
Colchester--now extinct--_Onc. Lanceanum_ flourished with a vigour
almost embarrassing, putting forth such enormous leaves, as it hung
close to the glass, as made blinds quite superfluous at midsummer. But
this was an extraordinary case. Certainly it is a glorious spectacle in
flower--yellow, barred with brown; the lip violet. The spikes last a
month in full beauty--sometimes two.

An Oncidium which always commands attention from the public and grateful
regard from the devotee is _Onc. papilio_. Its strange form fascinated
the Duke of Devonshire, grandfather to the present, who was almost the
first of our lordly amateurs, and tempted him to undertake the
explorations which introduced so many fine plants to Europe.

The "Butterfly orchid" is so familiar that I do not pause to describe
it. But imagine that most interesting flower all blue, instead of gold
and brown! I have never been able to learn what was the foundation of
the old belief in such a marvel. But the great Lindley went to his grave
in unshaken confidence that a blue _papilio_ exists. Once he thought he
had a specimen; but it flowered, and his triumph had to be postponed. I
myself heard of it two years back, and tried to cherish a belief that
the news was true. A friend from Natal assured me that he had seen one
on the table of the Director of the Gardens at Durban; but it proved to
be one of those terrestrial orchids, so lovely and so tantalizing to us,
with which South Africa abounds. Very slowly do we lengthen the
catalogue of them in our houses. There are gardeners, such as Mr. Cook
at Loughborough, who grow _Disa grandiflora_ like a weed. Mr. Watson of
Kew demonstrated that _Disa racemosa_ will flourish under conditions
easily secured. I had the good fortune to do as much for _Disa
Cooperi_, though not by my own skill. One supreme little triumph is
mine, however. In very early days, when animated with the courage of
utter ignorance, I bought eight bulbs of _Disa discolor_, and flowered
them, every one! No mortal in Europe had done it before, nor has any
tried since, I charitably hope, for a more rubbishing bloom does not
exist. But there it was--_Ego feci_! And the specimen in the Herbarium
at Kew bears my name.

But legends should not be disregarded when it is certain that they reach
us from a native source. Some of the most striking finds had been
announced long since by observant savages. I have told the story of
_Phaloenopsis Sanderiana_. It was a Zulu who put the discoverer of the
new yellow Calla on the track. The blue Utricularia had been heard of
and discredited long before it was found--Utricularias are not orchids
indeed, but only botanists regard the distinction. The natives of Assam
persistently assert that a bright yellow Cymbidium grows there, of
supremest beauty, and we expect it to turn up one day; the Malagasy
describe a scarlet one. But I am digressing.

Epidendrums mostly will bear as much heat as can be given them while
growing; all demand more sunshine than they can get in our climate.
Amateurs do not seem to be so well acquainted with the grand things of
this genus as they should be. They distrust all imported Epidendrums.
Many worthless species, indeed, bear a perplexing resemblance to the
finest; so much so, that the most observant of authorities would not
think of buying at the auction-room unless he had confidence enough in
the seller's honesty to accept his description of a "lot." Gloriously
beautiful, however, are some of those rarely met with; easy to cultivate
also, in a sunny place, and not dear. _Epid. rhizophorum_ has been
lately rechristened _Epid. radicans_--a name which might be confined to
the Mexican variety. For the plant recurs in Brazil, practically the
same, but with a certain difference. The former grows on shrubs, a true
epiphyte; the latter has its bottom roots in the soil, at foot of the
tallest trees, and runs up to the very summit, perhaps a hundred and
fifty feet. The flowers also show a distinction, but in effect they are
brilliant orange-red, the lip yellow, edged with scarlet. Forty or fifty
of them hanging in a cluster from the top of the raceme make a show to
remember. Mr. Watson "saw a plant a few years ago, that bore eighty-six
heads of flowers!" They last for three months. _Epid. prismatocarpum_,
also, is a lovely thing, with narrow dagger-like sepals and petals,
creamy-yellow, spotted black, lip mauve or violet, edged with pale

Of the many hot Dendrobiums, Australia supplies a good proportion. There
is _D. bigibbum_, of course, too well known for description; it dwells
on the small islands in Torres Straits. This species flowered at Kew so
early as 1824, but the plant died. Messrs. Loddiges, of Hackney,
re-introduced it thirty years later. _D. Johannis_, from Queensland,
brown and yellow, streaked with orange, the flowers curiously twisted.
_D. superbiens_, from Torres Straits, rosy purple, edged with white, lip
crimson. Handsomest of all by far is _D. phaloenopsis_. It throws out a
long, slender spike from the tip of the pseudo-bulb, bearing six or more
flowers, three inches across. The sepals are lance-shaped, and the
petals, twice as broad, rosy-lilac, with veins of darker tint; the lip,
arched over by its side lobes, crimson-lake in the throat, paler and
striped at the mouth. It was first sent home by Mr. Forbes, of Kew
Gardens, from Timor Laüt, in 1880. But Mr. Fitzgerald had made drawings
of a species substantially the same, some years before, from a plant he
discovered on the property of Captain Bloomfield, Balmain, in
Queensland, nearly a thousand miles south of Timor. Mr. Sander caused
search to be made, and he has introduced Mr. Fitzgerald's variety under
the name of _D. ph. Statterianum_. It is smaller than the type, and
crimson instead of lilac.

Bulbophyllums rank among the marvels of nature. It is a point
comparatively trivial that this genus includes the largest of orchids
and, perhaps, the smallest.

_B. Beccarii_ has leaves two feet long, eighteen inches broad. It
encircles the biggest tree in one clasp of its rhizomes, which
travellers mistake for the coil of a boa constrictor. Furthermore, this
species emits the vilest stench known to scientific persons, which is a
great saying. But these points are insignificant. The charm of
Bulbophyllums lies in their machinery for trapping insects. Those who
attended the Temple show last year saw something of it, if they could
penetrate the crush around _B. barbigerum_ on Sir Trevor Lawrence's
stand. This tiny but amazing plant comes from Sierra Leone. The long
yellow lip is attached to the column by the slenderest possible joint,
so that it rocks without an instant's pause. At the tip is set a brush
of silky hairs, which wave backwards and forwards with the precision of
machinery. No wonder that the natives believe it a living thing. The
purpose of these arrangements is to catch flies, which other species
effect with equal ingenuity if less elaboration. Very pretty too are
some of them, as _B. Lobbii_. Its clear, clean, orange-creamy hue is
delightful to behold. The lip, so delicately balanced, quivers at every
breath. If the slender stem be bent back, as by a fly alighting on the
column, that quivering cap turns and hangs imminent; another tiny shake,
as though the fly approached the nectary, and it falls plump, head over
heels, like a shot, imprisoning the insect. Thus the flower is
impregnated. If we wished to excite a thoughtful child's interest in
botany--not regardless of the sense of beauty either--we should make an
investment in _Bulbophyllum Lobbii_. _Bulbophyllum Dearei_ also is
pretty--golden ochre spotted red, with a wide dorsal sepal, very narrow
petals flying behind, lower sepals broadly striped with red, and a
yellow lip, upon a hinge, of course; but the gymnastic performances of
this species are not so impressive as in most of its kin.

A new Bulbophyllum, _B. Godseffianum_, has lately been brought from the
Philippines, contrived on the same principle, but even more charming.
The flowers, two inches broad, have the colour of "old gold," with
stripes of crimson on the petals, and the dorsal sepal shows membranes
almost transparent, which have the effect of silver embroidery.

Until _B. Beccarii_ was introduced, from Borneo, in 1867, the
Grammatophyllums were regarded as monsters incomparable. Mr. Arthur
Keyser, Resident Magistrate at Selangor, in the Straits Settlement,
tells of one which he gathered on a Durian tree, seven feet two inches
high, thirteen feet six inches across, bearing seven spikes of flower,
the longest eight feet six inches--a weight which fifteen men could only
just carry. Mr. F.W. Burbidge heard a tree fall in the jungle one night
when he was four miles away, and on visiting the spot, he found, "right
in the collar of the trunk, a Grammatophyllum big enough to fill a
Pickford's van, just opening its golden-brown spotted flowers, on stout
spikes two yards long." It is not to be hoped that we shall ever see
monsters like these in Europe. The genus, indeed, is unruly. _G.
speciosum_ has been grown to six feet high, I believe, which is big
enough to satisfy the modest amateur, especially when it develops leaves
two feet long. The flowers are--that is, they ought to be--six inches in
diameter, rich yellow, blotched with reddish purple. They have some
giants at Kew now, of which fine things are expected. _G.
Measureseanum_, named after Mr. Measures, a leading amateur, is pale
buff, speckled with chocolate, the ends of the sepals and petals
charmingly tipped with the same hue. Within the last few months Mr.
Sander has obtained _G. multiflorum_ from the Philippines, which seems
to be not only the most beautiful, but the easiest to cultivate of those
yet introduced. Its flowers droop in a garland of pale green and yellow,
splashed with brown, not loosely set, as is the rule, but scarcely half
an inch apart. The effect is said to be lovely beyond description. We
may hope to judge for ourselves in no long time, for Mr. Sander has
presented a wondrous specimen to the Royal Gardens, Kew. This is
assuredly the biggest orchid ever brought to Europe. Its snakey
pseudo-bulbs measure nine feet, and the old flower spikes stood eighteen
feet high. It will be found in the Victoria Regia house, growing


[Footnote 6: _Vanda Lowii_ is properly called _Renanthera Lowii_.]

[Footnote 7: _Vide_ page 100.]


Not a few orchids are "lost"--have been described that is, and named,
even linger in some great collection, but, bearing no history, cannot
now be found. Such, for instance, are _Cattleya Jongheana_, _Cymbidium
Hookerianum_, _Cypripedium Fairianum_. But there is one to which the
definite article might have been applied a very few days ago. This is
_Cattleya labiata vera_. It was the first to bear the name of Cattleya,
though not absolutely the first of that genus discovered. _C.
Loddigesii_ preceded it by a few years, but was called an Epidendrum.
Curious it is to note how science has returned in this latter day to the
views of a pre-scientific era. Professor Reichenbach was only restrained
from abolishing the genus Cattleya, and merging all its species into
Epidendrum, by regard for the weakness of human nature. _Cattleya
labiata vera_ was sent from Brazil to Dr. Lindley by Mr. W. Swainson,
and reached Liverpool in 1818. So much is certain, for Lindley makes
the statement in his _Collectanea Botanica_. But legends and myths
encircle that great event. It is commonly told in books that Sir W.
Jackson Hooker, Regius Professor of Botany at Glasgow, begged Mr.
Swainson--who was collecting specimens in natural history--to send him
some lichens. He did so, and with the cases arrived a quantity of
orchids which had been used to pack them. Less suitable material for
"dunnage" could not be found, unless we suppose that it was thrust
between the boxes to keep them steady. Paxton is the authority for this
detail, which has its importance. The orchid arriving in such humble
fashion proved to be _Cattleya labiata_; Lindley gave it that
name--there was no need to add _vera_ then. He established a new genus
for it, and thus preserved for all time the memory of Mr. Cattley, a
great horticulturist dwelling at Barnet. There was no ground in
supposing the species rare. A few years afterwards, in fact, Mr.
Gardner, travelling in pursuit of butterflies and birds, sent home
quantities of a Cattleya which he found on the precipitous sides of the
Pedro Bonita range, and also on the Gavea, which our sailors call
"Topsail" Mountain, or "Lord Hood's Nose." These orchids passed as _C.
labiata_ for a while. Paxton congratulated himself and the world in his
_Flower Garden_ that the stock was so greatly increased. Those were the
coaching days, when botanists had not much opportunity for comparison.
It is to be observed, also, that Gardner's Cattleya was the nearest
relative of Swainson's;--it is known at present as _C. labiata Warneri_.
The true species, however, has points unmistakable. Some of its kinsfolk
show a double flower-sheath;--very, very rarely, under exceptional
circumstances. But _Cattleya labiata vera_ never fails, and an
interesting question it is to resolve why this alone should be so
carefully protected. One may cautiously surmise that its habitat is even
damper than others'. In the next place, some plants have their leaves
red underneath, others green, and the flower-sheath always corresponds;
this peculiarity is shared by _C. l. Warneri_ alone. Thirdly--and there
is the grand distinction, the one which gives such extreme value to the
species--it flowers in the late autumn, and thus fills a gap. Those who
possess a plant may have Cattleyas in bloom the whole year round--and
they alone. Accordingly, it makes a section by itself in the
classification of _Reichenbachia_, as the single species that flowers
from the current year's growth, after resting. Section II. contains the
species that flower from the current year's growth before resting.
Section III., those that flower from last year's growth after resting.
All these are many, but _C. l. vera_ stands alone.

[Illustration: CATTLEYA LABIATA.
Reduced to One Sixth.]

We have no need to dwell upon the contest that arose at the introduction
of _Cattleya Mossiæ_ in 1840, which grew more and more bitter as others
of the class came in, and has not yet ceased. It is enough to say that
Lindley declined to recognize _C. Mossiæ_ as a species, though he stood
almost solitary against "the trade," backed by a host of enthusiastic
amateurs. The great botanist declared that he could see nothing in the
beautiful new Cattleya to distinguish it as a species from the one
already named, _C. labiata_, except that most variable of
characteristics, colour. Modes of growth and times of flowering do not
concern science. The structure of the plants is identical, and to admit
_C. Mossiæ_ as a sub-species of the same was the utmost concession
Lindley would make. This was in 1840. Fifteen years later came _C.
Warscewiczi_, now called _gigas_; then, next year, _C. Trianæ_; _C.
Dowiana_ in 1866; _C. Mendellii_ in 1870--all _labiatas_, strictly
speaking. At each arrival the controversy was renewed; it is not over
yet. But Sir Joseph Hooker succeeded Lindley and Reichenbach succeeded
Hooker as the supreme authority, and each of them stood firm. There
are, of course, many Cattleyas recognized as species, but Lindley's rule
has been maintained. We may return to the lost orchid.

As time went on, and the merits of _C. labiata vera_ were understood,
the few specimens extant--proceeding from Mr. Swainson's
importation--fetched larger and larger prices. Those merits, indeed,
were conspicuous. Besides the season of flowering, this proved to be the
strongest and most easily grown of Cattleyas. Its normal type was at
least as charming as any, and it showed an extraordinary readiness to
vary. Few, as has been said, were the plants in cultivation, but they
gave three distinct varieties. Van Houtte shows us two in his admirable
_Flore des Serres; C. l. candida_, from Syon House, pure white excepting
the ochrous throat--which is invariable--and _C. l. picta_, deep red,
from the collection of J.J. Blandy, Esq., Reading. The third was _C. l.
Pescatorei_, white, with a deep red blotch upon the lip, formerly owned
by Messrs. Rouget-Chauvier, of Paris, now by the Duc de Massa.

Under such circumstances the dealers began to stir in earnest. From the
first, indeed, the more enterprising had made efforts to import a plant
which, as they supposed, must be a common weed at Rio, since men used
it to "pack" boxes. But that this was an error they soon perceived.
Taking the town as a centre, collectors pushed out on all sides.
Probably there is not one of the large dealers, in England or the
Continent, dead or living, who has not spent money--a large sum, too--in
searching for _C. l. vera_. Probably, also, not one has lost by the
speculation, though never a sign nor a hint, scarcely a rumour, of the
thing sought rewarded them. For all secured new orchids, new
bulbs--Eucharis in especial--Dipladenias, Bromeliaceæ, Calladiums,
Marantas, Aristolochias, and what not. In this manner the lost orchid
has done immense service to botany and to mankind. One may say that the
hunt lasted seventy years, and led collectors to strike a path through
almost every province of Brazil--almost, for there are still vast
regions unexplored. A man might start, for example, at Para, and travel
to Bogota, two thousand miles or so, with a stretch of six hundred miles
on either hand which is untouched. It may well be asked what Mr.
Swainson was doing, if alive, while his discovery thus agitated the
world. Alive he was, in New Zealand, until the year 1855, but he offered
no assistance. It is scarcely to be doubted that he had none to give.
The orchids fell in his way by accident--possibly collected in distant
parts by some poor fellow who died at Rio. Swainson picked them up, and
used them to stow his lichens.

Not least extraordinary, however, in this extraordinary tale is the fact
that various bits of _C. l. vera_ turned up during this time. Lord Home
has a noble specimen at Bothwell Castle, which did not come from
Swainson's consignment. His gardener told the story five years ago. "I
am quite sure," he wrote, "that my nephew told me the small bit I had
from him"--forty years before--"was off a newly-imported plant, and I
understood it had been brought by one of Messrs. Horsfall's ships." Lord
Fitzwilliam seems to have got one in the same way, from another ship.
But the most astonishing case is recent. About seven years ago two
plants made their appearance in the Zoological Gardens at Regent's
Park--in the conservatory behind Mr. Bartlett's house. How they got
there is an eternal mystery. Mr. Bartlett sold them for a large sum; but
an equal sum offered him for any scrap of information showing how they
came into his hands he was sorrowfully obliged to refuse--or, rather,
found himself unable to earn. They certainly arrived in company with
some monkeys; but when, from what district of South America, the closest
search of his papers failed to show. In 1885, Dr. Regel, Director of
the Imperial Gardens at St. Petersburg, received a few plants. It may be
worth while to name those gentlemen who recently possessed examples of
_C. l. vera_, so far as our knowledge goes. They were Sir Trevor
Lawrence, Lord Rothschild, Duke of Marlborough, Lord Home, Messrs. J.
Chamberlain, T. Statten, J.J. Blandy, and G. Hardy, in England; in
America, Mr. F.L. Ames, two, and Mr. H.H. Hunnewell; in France, Comte de
Germiny, Duc de Massa, Baron Alphonse and Baron Adolf de Rothschild, M.
Treyeran of Bordeaux. There were two, as is believed, in Italy.

And now the horticultural papers inform us that the lost orchid is
found, by Mr. Sander of St. Albans. Assuredly he deserves his luck--if
the result of twenty years' labour should be so described. It was about
1870, we believe, that Mr. Sander sent out Arnold, who passed five years
in exploring Venezuela. He had made up his mind that the treasure must
not be looked for in Brazil. Turning next to Colombia, in successive
years, Chesterton, Bartholomeus, Kerbach, and the brothers Klaboch
overran that country. Returning to Brazil, his collectors, Oversluys,
Smith, Bestwood, went over every foot of the ground which Swainson
seems, by his books, to have traversed. At the same time Clarke followed
Gardner's track through the Pedro Bonita and Topsail Mountains. Then
Osmers traced the whole coast-line of the Brazils from north to south,
employing five years in the work. Finally, Digance undertook the search,
and died this year. To these men we owe grand discoveries beyond
counting. To name but the grandest, Arnold found _Cattleya
Percevaliana_; from Colombia were brought _Odont. vex. rubellum_,
_Bollea coelestis_, _Pescatorea Klabochorum_; Smith sent _Cattleya
O'Brieniana_; Clarke the dwarf Cattleyas, _pumila_ and _præstans_;
Lawrenceson _Cattleya Schroederæ_; Chesterton _Cattleya Sanderiana_;
Digance _Cattleya Diganceana_, which received a Botanical certificate
from the Royal Horticultural Society on September 8th, 1890. But they
heard not a whisper of the lost orchid.

In 1889 a collector employed by M. Moreau, of Paris, to explore Central
and North Brazil in search of insects, sent home fifty plants--for M.
Moreau is an enthusiast in orchidology also. He had no object in keeping
the secret of its habitat, and when Mr. Sander, chancing to call,
recognized the treasure so long lost, he gave every assistance.
Meanwhile, the International Horticultural Society of Brussels had
secured a quantity, but they regarded it as new, and gave it the name of
_Catt. Warocqueana_; in which error they persisted until Messrs. Sander
flooded the market.


My articles brought upon me a flood of questions almost as embarrassing
as flattering to a busy journalist. The burden of them was curiously
like. Three ladies or gentlemen in four wrote thus: "I love orchids. I
had not the least suspicion that they may be cultivated so easily and so
cheaply. I am going to begin. Will you please inform me"--here diversity
set in with a vengeance! From temperature to flower-pots, from the
selection of species to the selection of peat, from the architecture of
a greenhouse to the capabilities of window-gardening, with excursions
between, my advice was solicited. I replied as best I could. It must be
feared, however, that the most careful questioning and the most
elaborate replies by post will not furnish that ground-work of
knowledge, the ABC of the science, which is needed by a person utterly
unskilled; nor will he find it readily in the hand-books. Written by men
familiar with the alphabet of orchidology from their youth up, though
they seem to begin at the beginning, ignorant enthusiasts who study them
find woeful gaps. It is little I can do in this matter; yet, believing
that the culture of these plants will be as general shortly as the
culture of pelargoniums under glass--and firmly convinced that he who
hastens that day is a real benefactor to his kind--I am most anxious to
do what lies in my power. Considering the means by which this end may be
won, it appears necessary above all to avoid boring the student. He
should be led to feel how charming is the business in hand even while
engaged with prosaic details; and it seems to me, after some thought,
that the sketch of a grand orchid nursery will best serve our purpose
for the moment. There I can show at once processes and results, passing
at a step as it were from the granary into the harvest-field, from the
workshop to the finished and glorious production.

"An orchid farm" is no extravagant description of the establishment at
St. Albans. There alone in Europe, so far as I know, three acres of
ground are occupied by orchids exclusively. It is possible that larger
houses might be found--everything is possible; but such are devoted more
or less to a variety of plants, and the departments are not all
gathered beneath one roof. I confess, for my own part, a hatred of
references. They interrupt the writer, and they distract the reader. At
the place I have chosen to illustrate our theme, one has but to cross a
corridor from any of the working quarters to reach the showroom. We may
start upon our critical survey from the very dwelling-house. Pundits of
agricultural science explore the sheds, I believe, the barns, stables,
machine-rooms, and so forth, before inspecting the crops. We may follow
the same course, but our road offers an unusual distraction.

It passes from the farmer's hall beneath a high glazed arch. Some thirty
feet beyond, the path is stopped by a wall of tufa and stalactite which
rises to the lofty roof, and compels the traveller to turn right or
left. Water pours down it and falls trickling into a narrow pool
beneath. Its rough front is studded with orchids from crest to base.
Coelogenes have lost those pendant wreaths of bloom which lately
tipped the rock as with snow. But there are Cymbidiums arching long
sprays of green and chocolate; thickets of Dendrobe set with flowers
beyond counting--ivory and rose and purple and orange; scarlet
Anthuriums: huge clumps of Phajus and evergreen Calanthe, with a score
of spikes rising from their broad leaves; Cypripediums of quaint form
and striking half-tones of colour; Oncidiums which droop their slender
garlands a yard long, golden yellow and spotted, purple and white--a
hundred tints. The crown of the rock bristles all along with Cattleyas,
a dark-green glossy little wood against the sky. The _Trianæs_ are
almost over, but here and there a belated beauty pushes through, white
or rosy, with a lip of crimson velvet. _Mossiæs_ have replaced them
generally, and from beds three feet in diameter their great blooms start
by the score, in every shade of pink and crimson and rosy purple. There
is _Loelia elegans_, exterminated in its native home, of such bulk and
such luxuriance of growth that the islanders left forlorn might almost
find consolation in regarding it here. Over all, climbing up the
spandrils of the roof in full blaze of sunshine, is _Vanda teres_, round
as a pencil both leaves and stalk, which will drape those bare iron rods
presently with crimson and pink and gold.[8] The way to our farmyard is
not like others. It traverses a corner of fairyland.

We find a door masked by such a rock as that faintly and vaguely
pictured, which opens on a broad corridor. Through all its length, four
hundred feet, it is ceilinged with baskets of Mexican orchid, as close
as they will fit. Upon the left hand lie a series of glass structures;
upon the right, below the level of the corridor, the workshops; at the
end--why, to be frank, the end is blocked by a ponderous screen of
matting just now. But this dingy barrier is significant of a work in
hand which will not be the least curious nor the least charming of the
strange sights here. The farmer has already a "siding" of course, for
the removal of his produce; he finds it necessary to have a station of
his own also for the convenience of clients. Beyond the screen at
present lies an area of mud and ruin, traversed by broken walls and rows
of hot-water piping swathed in felt to exclude the chill air. A few
weeks since, this little wilderness was covered with glass, but the ends
of the long "houses" have been cut off to make room for a structure into
which visitors will step direct from the train. The platform is already
finished, neat and trim; so are the vast boilers and furnaces, newly
rebuilt, which would drive a cotton factory.

A busy scene that is which we survey, looking down through openings in
the wall of the corridor. Here is the composing-room, where that
magnificent record of orchidology in three languages, the
"Reichenbachia," slowly advances from year to year. There is the
printing-room, with no steam presses or labour-saving machinery, but the
most skilful craftsmen to be found, the finest paper, the most
deliberate and costly processes, to rival the great works of the past in
illustrating modern science. These departments, however, we need not
visit, nor the chambers, lower still, where mechanical offices are

The "Importing Room" first demands notice. Here cases are received by
fifties and hundreds, week by week, from every quarter of the orchid
world, unpacked, and their contents stored until space is made for them
up above. It is a long apartment, broad and low, with tables against the
wall and down the middle, heaped with things which to the uninitiated
seem, for the most part, dry sticks and dead bulbs. Orchids everywhere!
They hang in dense bunches from the roof. They lie a foot thick upon
every board, and two feet thick below. They are suspended on the walls.
Men pass incessantly along the gangways, carrying a load that would fill
a barrow. And all the while fresh stores are accumulating under the
hands of that little group in the middle, bent and busy at cases just
arrived. They belong to a lot of eighty that came in from Burmah last
night--and while we look on, a boy brings a telegram announcing fifty
more from Mexico, that will reach Waterloo at 2.30 p.m. Great is the
wrath and great the anxiety at this news, for some one has blundered;
the warning should have been despatched three hours before. Orchids must
not arrive at unknown stations unless there be somebody of discretion
and experience to meet them, and the next train does not leave St.
Albans until 2.44 p.m. Dreadful is the sense of responsibility, alarming
the suggestions of disaster, that arise from this incident.

The Burmese cases in hand just now are filled with Dendrobiums,
_crassinode_ and _Wardianum_, stowed in layers as close as possible,
with _D. Falconerii_ for packing material. A royal way of doing things
indeed to substitute an orchid of value for shavings or moss, but mighty
convenient and profitable. For that packing will be sent to the
auction-rooms presently, and will be sold for no small proportion of the
sum which its more delicate charge attains. We remark that the
experienced persons who remove these precious sticks, layer by layer,
perform their office gingerly. There is not much danger or
unpleasantness in unpacking Dendrobes, compared with other genera, but
ship-rats spring out occasionally and give an ugly bite; scorpions and
centipedes have been known to harbour in the close roots of _D.
Falconerii_; stinging ants are by no means improbable, nor huge spiders;
while cockroaches of giant size, which should be killed, may be looked
for with certainty. But men learn a habit of caution by experience of
cargoes much more perilous. In those masses of _Arundina bambusæfolia_
beneath the table yonder doubtless there are centipedes lurking, perhaps
even scorpions, which have escaped the first inspection. Happily, these
pests are dull, half-stupefied with the cold, when discovered, and no
man here has been stung, circumspect as they are; but ants arrive as
alert and as vicious as in their native realm. Distinctly they are no
joke. To handle a consignment of _Epidendrum bicornutum_ demands some
nerve. A very ugly species loves its hollow bulbs, which, when
disturbed, shoots out with lightning swiftness and nips the arm or hand
so quickly that it can seldom be avoided. But the most awkward cases to
deal with are those which contain _Schomburghkia tibicinis_. This superb
orchid is so difficult to bloom that very few will attempt it; I have
seen its flower but twice. Packers strongly approve the reluctance of
the public to buy, since it restricts importation. The foreman has been
laid up again and again. But they find pleasing curiosities also,
tropic beetles, and insects, and cocoons. Dendrobiums in especial are
favoured by moths; _D. Wardianum_ is loaded with their webs, empty as a
rule. Hitherto the men have preserved no chrysalids, but at this moment
they have a few, of unknown species.

The farmer gets strange bits of advice sometimes, and strange offers of
assistance. Talking of insects reminds him of a letter received last
week. Here it is:--

     SIRS,--I have heard that you are large growers of orchids;
     am I right in supposing that in their growth or production you are
     much troubled with some insect or caterpillar which retards or
     hinders their arrival at maturity, and that these insects or
     caterpillars can be destroyed by small snakes? I have tracts of
     land under my occupation, and if these small snakes can be of use
     in your culture of orchids you might write, as I could get you some
     on knowing what these might be worth to you.

                                                Yours truly

Thence we mount to the potting-rooms, where a dozen skilled workmen try
to keep pace with the growth of the imported plants; taking up, day by
day, those which thrust out roots so fast that postponement is
injurious. The broad middle tables are heaped with peat and moss and
leaf-mould and white sand. At counters on either side unskilled
labourers are sifting and mixing, while boys come and go, laden with
pots and baskets of teak-wood and crocks and charcoal. These things are
piled in heaps against the walls; they are stacked on frames overhead;
they fill the semi-subterranean chambers of which we get a glimpse in
passing. Our farm resembles a factory in this department.

Ascending to the upper earth again, and crossing the corridor, we may
visit number one of those glass-houses opposite. I cannot imagine, much
more describe, how that spectacle would strike one to whom it was wholly
unfamiliar. These buildings--there are twelve of them, side by
side--measure one hundred and eighty feet in length, and the narrowest
has thirty-two feet breadth. This which we enter is devoted to
_Odontoglossum crispum_, with a few _Masdevallias_. There were
twenty-two thousand pots in it the other day; several thousand have been
sold, several thousand have been brought in, and the number at this
moment cannot be computed. Our farmer has no time for speculative
arithmetic; he deals in produce wholesale. Telegraph an order for a
thousand _crispums_ and you cause no stir in the establishment. You take
it for granted that a large dealer only could propose such a
transaction. But it does not follow at all. Nobody would credit, unless
he had talked with one of the great farmers, on what enormous scale
orchids are cultivated up and down by private persons. Our friend has a
client who keeps his stock of _O. crispum_ alone at ten thousand; but
others, less methodical, may have more.

Opposite the door is a high staging, mounted by steps, with a gangway
down the middle and shelves descending on either hand. Those shelves are
crowded with fine plants of the glorious _O. crispum_, each bearing one
or two spikes of flower, which trail down, interlace, arch upward. Not
all are in bloom; that amazing sight may be witnessed for a month to
come--for two months, with such small traces of decay as the casual
visitor would not notice. So long and dense are the wreaths, so broad
the flowers, that the structure seems to be festooned from top to bottom
with snowy garlands. But there is more. Overhead hang rows of baskets,
lessening in perspective, with pendent sprays of bloom. And broad tables
which edge the walls beneath that staging display some thousands still,
smaller but not less beautiful. A sight which words could not portray. I
yield in despair.

The tillage of the farm is our business, and there are many points here
which the amateur should note. Observe the bricks beneath your feet.
They have a hollow pattern which retains the water, though your boots
keep dry. Each side of the pathway lie shallow troughs, always full.
Beneath that staging mentioned is a bed of leaves, interrupted by a tank
here, by a group of ferns there, vividly green. Slender iron pipes run
through the house from end to end, so perforated that on turning a tap
they soak these beds, fill the little troughs and hollow bricks, play in
all directions down below, but never touch a plant. Under such constant
drenching the leaf-beds decay, throwing up those gases and vapours in
which the orchid delights at home. Thus the amateur should arrange his
greenhouse, so far as he may. But I would not have it understood that
these elaborate contrivances are essential. If you would beat Nature, as
here, making invariably such bulbs and flowers as she produces only
under rare conditions, you must follow this system. But orchids are not

The house opens, at its further end, in a magnificent structure designed
especially to exhibit plants of warm species in bloom. It is three
hundred feet long, twenty-six wide, eighteen high--the piping laid end
to end, would measure as nearly as possible one mile: we see a practical
illustration of the resources of the establishment, when it is expected
to furnish such a show. Here are stored the huge specimens of
_Cymbidium Lowianum_, nine of which astounded the good people of Berlin
with a display of one hundred and fifty flower spikes, all open at once.
We observe at least a score as well furnished, and hundreds which a
royal gardener would survey with pride. They rise one above another in a
great bank, crowned and brightened by garlands of pale green and
chocolate. Other Cymbidiums are here, but not the beautiful _C.
eburneum_. Its large white flowers, erect on a short spike, not drooping
like these, will be found in a cool house--smelt with delight before
they are found.

Further on we have a bank of Dendrobiums, so densely clothed in bloom
that the leaves are unnoticed. Lovely beyond all to my taste, if,
indeed, one may make a comparison, is _D. luteolum_, with flowers of
palest, tenderest primrose, rarely seen unhappily, for it will not
reconcile itself to our treatment. Then again a bank of Cattleyas, of
Vandas, of miscellaneous genera. The pathway is hedged on one side with
_Begonia coralina_, an unimproved species too straggling of growth and
too small of flower to be worth its room under ordinary conditions; but
a glorious thing here, climbing to the roof, festooned at every season
of the year with countless rosy sprays.

Beyond this show-house lie the small structures devoted to
"hybridization," but I deal with them in another chapter. Here also are
the Phaloenopsis, the very hot Vandas, Bolleas, Pescatoreas, Anæctochili,
and such dainty but capricious beauties.

We enter the second of the range of greenhouses, also devoted to
Odontoglossums, Masdevallias, and "cool" genera, as crowded as the last;
pass down it to the corridor, and return through number three, which is
occupied by Cattleyas and such. There is a lofty mass of rock in front,
with a pool below, and a pleasant sound of splashing water. Many orchids
of the largest size are planted out here--Cypripedium, Cattleya,
Sobralia, Phajus, Loelia, Zygopetalum, and a hundred more,
"specimens," as the phrase runs--that is to say, they have ten, twenty,
fifty, flower spikes. I attempt no more descriptions; to one who knows,
the plain statement of fact is enough, one who does not is unable to
conceive that sight by the aid of words. But the Sobralias demand
attention. They stand here in clumps two feet thick, bearing a
wilderness of loveliest bloom--like Irises magnified and glorified by
heavenly enchantment. Nature designed a practical joke perhaps when she
granted these noble flowers but one day's existence each, while dingy
Epidendrums last six months, or nine. I imagine that for stateliness
and delicacy combined there are no plants that excel the Sobralia. At
any single point they may be surpassed--among orchids, be it understood,
by nothing else in Nature's realm--but their magnificence and grace
together cannot be outshone.

I must not dwell upon the marvels here, in front, on either side, and
above--a hint is enough. There are baskets of _Loelia anceps_ three
feet across, lifted bodily from the tree in their native forest where
they had grown perhaps for centuries. One of them--the white variety,
too, which æsthetic infidels might adore, though they believed in
nothing--opened a hundred spikes at Christmas time; we do not concern
ourselves with minute reckonings here. But an enthusiastic novice
counted the flowers blooming one day on that huge mass of _Loelia
albida_ yonder, and they numbered two hundred and eleven--unless, as
some say, this was the quantity of "spikes," in which case one must have
to multiply by two or three. Such incidents maybe taken for granted at
the farm.

Reduced to One Sixth]

But we must not pass a new orchid, quite distinct and supremely
beautiful, for which Professor Reichenbach has not yet found a name
sufficiently appreciative. Only eight pieces were discovered, whence we
must suspect that it is very rare at home; I do not know where the
home is, and I should not tell if I did. Such information is more
valuable than the surest tip for the Derby, or most secrets of State.
This new orchid is a Cyrrhopetalun, of very small size, but, like so
many others, its flower is bigger than itself. The spike inclines almost
at a right angle, and the pendent half is hung with golden bells, nearly
two inches in length. Beneath it stands the very rare scarlet
Utricularia, growing in the axils of its native Vriesia, as in a cup
always full; but as yet the flower has been seen in Europe only by the
eyes of faith. It may be news to some that Utricularias do not belong to
the orchid family--have, in fact, not the slightest kinship, though
associated with it by growers to the degree that Mr. Sander admits them
to his farm. A little story hangs to the exquisite _U. Campbelli_. All
importers are haunted by the spectral image of _Cattleya labiata_,
which, in its true form, had been brought to Europe only once, seventy
years ago, when this book was written. Some time since, Mr. Sander was
looking through the drawings of Sir Robert Schomburgk, in the British
Museum, among which is a most eccentric Cattleya named--for reasons
beyond comprehension--a variety of _C. Mossiæ_. He jumped at the
conclusion that this must be the long-lost _C. labiata_. So strong
indeed was his confidence that he despatched a man post-haste over the
Atlantic to explore the Roraima mountain; and, further, gave him strict
injunctions to collect nothing but this precious species. For eight
months the traveller wandered up and down among the Indians, searching
forest and glade, the wooded banks of streams, the rocks and clefts, but
he found neither _C. labiata_ nor that curious plant which Sir Robert
Schomburgk described. Upon the other hand, he came across the lovely
_Utricularia Campbelli_, and in defiance of instructions brought it
down. But very few reached England alive. For six weeks they travelled
on men's backs, from their mountain home to the River Essequibo; thence,
six weeks in canoe to Georgetown, with twenty portages; and, so aboard
ship. The single chance of success lies in bringing them down,
undisturbed, in the great clumps of moss which are their habitat, as is
the Vriesia of other species.

I will allow myself a very short digression here. It may seem
unaccountable that a plant of large growth, distinct flower, and
characteristic appearance, should elude the eye of persons trained to
such pursuits, and encouraged to spend money on the slightest prospect
of success, for half a century and more. But if we recall the
circumstances it ceases to astonish. I myself spent many months in the
forests of Borneo, Central America, and the West African coast. After
that experience I scarcely understand how such a quest, for a given
object, can ever be successful unless by mere fortune. To look for a
needle in a bottle of hay is a promising enterprise compared with the
search for an orchid clinging to some branch high up in that green world
of leaves. As a matter of fact, collectors seldom discover what they are
specially charged to seek, if the district be untravelled--the natives,
therefore, untrained to grasp and assist their purpose. This remark does
not apply to orchids alone; not by any means. Few besides the
scientific, probably, are aware that the common _Eucharis amasonica_ has
been found only once; that is to say, but one consignment has ever been
received in Europe, from which all our millions in cultivation have
descended. Where it exists in the native state is unknown, but assuredly
this ignorance is nobody's fault. For a generation at least skilled
explorers have been hunting. Mr. Sander has had his turn, and has
enjoyed the satisfaction of discovering species closely allied, as
_Eucharis Mastersii_ and _Eucharis Sanderiana_; but the old-fashioned
bulb is still to seek.

In this third greenhouse is a large importation of _Cattleya Trianæ_,
which arrived so late last year that their sheaths have opened
contemporaneously with _C. Mossiæ_. I should fear to hazard a guess how
many thousand flowers of each are blooming now. As the Odontoglossums
cover their stage with snow wreaths, so this is decked with upright
plumes of _Cattleya Trianæ_, white and rose and purple in endless
variety of tint, with many a streak of other hue between.

Suddenly our guide becomes excited, staring at a basket overhead beyond
reach. It contains a smooth-looking object, very green and fat, which
must surely be good to eat--but this observation is alike irrelevant and
disrespectful. Why, yes! Beyond all possibility of doubt that is a spike
issuing from the axil of its fleshy leaf! Three inches long it is
already, thick as a pencil, with a big knob of bud at the tip. Such
pleasing surprises befall the orchidacean! This plant came from Borneo
so many years ago that the record is lost; but the oldest servant of the
farm remembers it, as a poor cripple, hanging between life and death,
season after season. Cheerful as interesting is the discussion that
arises. More like a Vanda than anything else, the authorities resolve,
but not a Vanda! Commending it to the special care of those responsible,
we pass on.

Here is the largest mass of Catasetum ever found, or even rumoured,
lying in ponderous bulk upon the stage, much as it lay in a Guatemalan
forest. It is engaged in the process of "plumping up." Orchids shrivel
in their long journey, and it is the importer's first care to renew that
smooth and wholesome rotundity which indicates a conscience untroubled,
a good digestion, and an assurance of capacity to fulfil any reasonable
demand. Beneath the staging you may see myriads of withered sticks,
clumps of shrunken and furrowed bulbs by the thousand, hung above those
leaf-beds mentioned; they are "plumping" in the damp shade. The larger
pile of Catasetum--there are two--may be four feet long, three wide, and
eighteen inches thick; how many hundreds of flowers it will bear passes
computation. I remarked that when broken up into handsome pots it would
fill a greenhouse of respectable dimensions; but it appears that there
is not the least intention of dividing it. The farmer has several
clients who will snap at this natural curiosity, when, in due time, it
is put on the market.

At the far end of the house stands another piece of rockwork, another
little cascade, and more marvels than I can touch upon. In fact, there
are several which would demand all the space at my disposition, but,
happily, one reigns supreme. This is a _Cattleya Mossiæ_, the pendant of
the Catasetum, by very far the largest orchid of any kind that was ever
brought to Europe. For some years Mr. Sander, so to speak, hovered round
it, employing his shrewdest and most diplomatic agents. For this was not
a forest specimen. It grew upon a high tree beside an Indian's hut, near
Caraccas, and belonged to him as absolutely as the fruit in his
compound. His great-grandfather, indeed, had "planted" it, so he
declared, but this is highly improbable. The giant has embraced two
stems of the tree, and covers them both so thickly that the bare ends of
wood at top alone betray its secret; for it was sawn off, of course,
above and below. I took the dimensions as accurately as may be, with an
object so irregular and prickly. It measures--the solid bulk of it,
leaves not counted--as nearly as possible five feet in height and four
thick--one plant, observe, pulsating through its thousand limbs from one
heart; at least, I mark no spot where the circulation has been checked
by accident or disease, and the pseudo-bulbs beyond have been obliged to
start an independent existence.

In speaking of _Loelia elegans_, I said that those Brazilian
islanders who have lost it might find solace could they see its
happiness in exile. The gentle reader thought this an extravagant figure
of speech, no doubt, but it is not wholly fanciful. Indians of Tropical
America cherish a fine orchid to the degree that in many cases no sum,
and no offer of valuables, will tempt them to part with it. Ownership is
distinctly recognized when the specimen grows near a village. The root
of this feeling, whether superstition or taste, sense of beauty, rivalry
in magnificence of church displays, I have not been able to trace. It
runs very strong in Costa Rica, where the influence of the aborigines is
scarcely perceptible, and there, at least, the latter motive is
sufficient explanation. Glorious beyond all our fancy can conceive, must
be the show in those lonely forest churches, which no European visits
save the "collector," on a feast day. Mr. Roezl, whose name is so
familiar to botanists, left a description of the scene that time he
first beheld the Flor de Majo. The church was hung with garlands of it,
he says, and such emotions seized him at the view that he choked. The
statement is quite credible. Those who see that wonder now, prepared for
its transcendent glory, find no words to express their feeling: imagine
an enthusiast beholding it for the first time, unwarned, unsuspecting
that earth can show such a sample of the flowers that bloomed in Eden!
And not a single branch, but garlands of it! Mr. Roezl proceeds to speak
of bouquets of _Masdevallia Harryana_ three feet across, and so forth.
The natives showed him "gardens" devoted to this species, for the
ornament of their church; it was not cultivated, of course, but
evidently planted. They were acres in extent.

The Indian to whom this _Cattleya Mossiæ_ belonged refused to part with
it at any price for years; he was overcome by a rifle of peculiar
fascination, added to the previous offers. A magic-lantern has very
great influence in such cases, and the collector provides himself with
one or more nowadays as part of his outfit. Under that charm, with
47l. in cash, Mr. Sander secured his first _C. Mossiæ alba_, but it
has failed hitherto in another instance, though backed by 100l., in
"trade" or dollars, at the Indian's option.

Thence we pass to a wide and lofty house which was designed for growing
_Victoria Regia_ and other tropic water-lilies. It fulfilled its purpose
for a time, and I never beheld those plants under circumstances so well
fitted to display their beauty. But they generate a small black fly in
myriads beyond belief, and so the culture of _Nymphæa_ was dropped. A
few remain, in manageable quantities, just enough to adorn the tank
with blue and rosy stars; but it is arched over now with baskets as
thick as they will hang--Dendrobium, Coelogene, Oncidium,
Spathoglottis, and those species which love to dwell in the
neighbourhood of steaming water. My vocabulary is used up by this time.
The wonders here must go unchronicled.

We have viewed but four houses out of twelve, a most cursory glance at
that! The next also is intermediate, filled with Cattleyas, warm
Oncidiums, Lycastes, Cypripediums--the inventory of names alone would
occupy all my space remaining. At every step I mark some object worth a
note, something that recalls, or suggests, or demands a word. But we
must get along. The sixth house is cool again--Odontoglossums and such;
the seventh is given to Dendrobes. But facing us as we enter stands a
_Lycaste Skinneri_, which illustrates in a manner almost startling the
infinite variety of the orchid. I positively dislike this species,
obtrusive, pretentious, vague in colour, and stiff in form. But what a
royal glorification of it we have here!--what exquisite veining and
edging of purple or rose; what a velvet lip of crimson darkening to
claret! It is merely a sport of Nature, but she allows herself such
glorious freaks in no other realm of her domain. And here is a new
Brassia just named by the pontiff of orchidology, Professor Reichenbach.
Those who know the tribe of Brassias will understand why I make no
effort to describe it. This wonderful thing is yet more "all over the
shop" than its kindred. Its dorsal sepal measures three inches in
length, its "tail," five inches, with an enormous lip between. They term
it the Squid Flower, or Octopus, in Mexico; and a good name too. But in
place of the rather weakly colouring habitual it has a grand decision of
character, though the tones are like--pale yellow and greenish; its
raised spots, red and deep green, are distinct as points of velvet upon

In the eighth house we return to Odontoglossums and cool genera. Here
are a number of Hybrids of the "natural class," upon which I should have
a good deal to say if inexorable fate permitted; "natural hybrids" are
plants which seem species, but, upon thoughtful examination and study,
are suspected to be the offspring of kindred and neighbours. Interesting
questions arise in surveying fine specimens side by side, in flower, all
attributed to a cross between _Odontoglossum Lindleyanum_ and
_Odontoglossum crispum Alexandræ_, and all quite different. But we must
get on to the ninth house, from which the tenth branches.

Here is the stove, and twilight reigns over that portion where a variety
of super-tropic genera are "plumping up," making roots, and generally
reconciling themselves to a new start in life. Such dainty, delicate
souls may well object to the apprenticeship. It must seem very degrading
to find themselves laid out upon a bed of cinders and moss, hung up by
the heels above it, and even planted therein; but if they have as much
good sense as some believe, they may be aware that it is all for their
good. At the end, in full sunshine, stands a little copse of _Vanda
teres_, set as closely as their stiff branches will allow. Still we must
get on. There are bits of wood hanging here so rotten that they scarcely
hold together; faintest dots of green upon them assure the experienced
that presently they will be draped with pendant leaves, and presently
again, we hope, with blue and white and scarlet flowers of Utricularia.

From the stove opens a very long, narrow house, where cool genera are
"plumping," laid out on moss and potsherds; many of them have burst into
strong growth. Pleiones are flowering freely as they lie. This farmer's
crops come to harvest faster than he can attend to them. Things
beautiful and rare and costly are measured here by the yard--so many
feet of this piled up on the stage, so many of the other, from all
quarters of the world, waiting the leisure of these busy agriculturists.
Nor can we spare them more than a glance. The next house is filled with
Odontoglossums, planted out like "bedding stuff" in a nursery, awaiting
their turn to be potted. They make a carpet so close, so green, that
flowers are not required to charm the eye as it surveys the long
perspective. The rest are occupied just now with cargoes of imported

My pages are filled--to what poor purpose, seeing how they might have
been used for such a theme, no one could be so conscious as I.


[Footnote 8: I was too sanguine. _Vanda teres_ refused to thrive.]


In the very first place, I declare that this is no scientific chapter.
It is addressed to the thousands of men and women in the realm who tend
a little group of orchids lovingly, and mark the wonders of their
structure with as much bewilderment as interest. They read of
hybridization, they see the result in costly specimens, they get books,
they study papers on the subject. But the deeper their research
commonly, the more they become convinced that these mysteries lie beyond
their attainment. I am not aware of any treatise which makes a serious
effort to teach the uninitiated. Putting technical expressions on one
side--though that obstacle is grave enough--every one of those which
have come under my notice takes the mechanical preliminaries for
granted. All are written by experts for experts. My purpose is contrary.
I wish to show how it is done so clearly that a child or the dullest
gardener may be able to perform the operations--so very easy when you
know how to set to work.

Reduced to One Sixth.]

After a single lesson, in the genus _Cypripedium_ alone, a young lady
of my household amused herself by concerting the most incredible
alliances--_Dendrobium_ with _Odontoglossum_, _Epidendrum_ with
_Oncidium_, _Oncidium_ with _Odontoglossum_, and so forth. It is
unnecessary to tell the experienced that in every case the seed vessel
swelled; that matter will be referred to presently. I mention the
incident only to show how simple are these processes if the key be

Amateur hybridizers of an audacious class are wanted because, hitherto,
operators have kept so much to the beaten paths. The names of Veitch and
Dominy and Seden will endure when those of great _savants_ are
forgotten; but business men have been obliged to concentrate their zeal
upon experiments that pay. Fantastic crosses mean, in all probability, a
waste of time, space, and labour; in fact, it is not until recent years
that such attempts could be regarded as serious. So much the more
creditable, therefore, are Messrs. Veitch's exertions in that line.

But it seems likely to me that when hybridizing becomes a common pursuit
with those who grow orchids--and the time approaches fast--a very
strange revolution may follow. It will appear, as I think, that the
enormous list of pure species--even genera--recognized at this date may
be thinned in a surprising fashion. I believe--timidly, as becomes the
unscientific--that many distinctions which anatomy recognizes at present
as essential to a true species will be proved, in the future, to result
from promiscuous hybridization through æons of time. "Proved," perhaps,
is the word too strong, since human life is short; but such a mass of
evidence will be collected that reasonable men can entertain no doubt.
Of course the species will be retained, but we shall know it to be a
hybrid--the offspring, perhaps, of hybrids innumerable.

I incline more and more to think that even genera may be disturbed in a
surprising fashion, and I know that some great authorities agree with me
outright, though they are unprepared to commit themselves at present. A
very few years ago this suggestion would have been absurd, in the sense
that it wanted facts in support. As our ancestors made it an article of
faith that to fertilize an orchid was impossible for man, so we imagined
until lately that genera would not mingle. But this belief grows
unsteady. Though bi-generic crosses have not been much favoured, as
offering little prospect of success, such results have been obtained
already that the field of speculation lies open to irresponsible
persons like myself. When Cattleya has been allied with Sophronitis,
Sophronitis with Epidendrum, Odontoglossum with Zygopetalum, Coelogene
with Calanthe, one may credit almost anything. What should be stated on
the other side will appear presently.

How many hybrids have we now, established, and passing from hand to hand
as freely as natural species? There is no convenient record; but in the
trade list of a French dealer those he is prepared to supply are set
apart with Gallic precision. They number 416; but imagination and
commercial enterprise are not less characteristic of the Gaul than

In the excellent "Manual" of Messrs. Veitch, which has supplied me with
a mass of details, I find ten hybrid Calanthes; thirteen hybrid
Cattleyas, and fifteen Loelias, besides sixteen "natural
hybrids"--species thus classed upon internal evidence--and the wondrous
Sophro-Cattleya, bi-generic; fourteen Dendrobiums and one natural;
eighty-seven Cypripediums--but as for the number in existence, it is so
great, and it increases so fast, that Messrs. Veitch have lost count;
Phajus one, but several from alliance with Calanthe; Chysis two;
Epidendrum one; Miltonia one, and two natural; Masdevallia ten, and two
natural; and so on. And it must be borne in mind that these amazing
results have been effected in one generation. Dean Herbert's
achievements eighty years ago were not chronicled, and it is certain
that none of the results survive. Mr. Sander of St. Albans preserves an
interesting relic, the only one as yet connected with the science of
orchidology. This is _Cattleya hybrida_, the first of that genus raised
by Dominy, manager to Messrs. Veitch, at the suggestion of Mr. Harris of
Exeter, to the stupefaction of our grandfathers. Mr. Harris will ever be
remembered as the gentleman who showed Mr. Veitch's agent how orchids
are fertilized, and started him on his career. This plant was lost for
years, but Mr. Sander found it by chance in the collection of Dr.
Janisch at Hamburg, and he keeps it as a curiosity, for in itself the
object has no value. But this is a digression.

Dominy's earliest success, actually the very first of garden hybrids to
flower--in 1856--was _Calanthe Dominii_, offspring of _C. Masuca_ × _C.
furcata_;--be it here remarked that the name of the mother, or seed
parent, always stands first. Another interest attaches to _C. Dominii_.
Both its parents belong to the _Veratræfolia_ section of Calanthe, the
terrestrial species, and no other hybrid has yet been raised among them.
We have here one of the numberless mysteries disclosed by hybridization.
The epiphytal Calanthes, represented by _C. vestita_, will not cross
with the terrestrial, represented by _C. veratræfolia_, nor will the
mules of either. We may "give this up" and proceed. In 1859 flowered _C.
Veitchii_, from _C. rosea_, still called, as a rule, _Limatodes rosea, ×
C. vestita_. No orchid is so common as this, and none more simply
beautiful. But although the success was so striking, and the way to it
so easy, twenty years passed before even Messrs. Veitch raised another
hybrid Calanthe. In 1878 Seden flowered _C. Sedeni_ from _C. Veitchii ×
C. vestita_. Others entered the field then, especially Sir Trevor
Lawrence, Mr. Cookson, and Mr. Charles Winn. But the genus is small, and
they mostly chose the same families, often giving new names to the
progeny, in ignorance of each other's labour.

The mystery I have alluded to recurs again and again. Large groups of
species refuse to inter-marry with their nearest kindred, even plants
which seem identical in the botanist's point of view. There is good
ground for hoping, however, that longer and broader experience will
annihilate some at least of the axioms current in this matter. Thus, it
is repeated and published in the very latest editions of standard works
that South American Cattleyas, which will breed, not only among
themselves, but also with the Brazilian Loelias, decline an alliance
with their Mexican kindred. But Baron Schroeder possesses a hybrid of
such typical parentage as _Catt. citrina_, Mexican, and _Catt.
intermedia_, Brazilian. It was raised by Miss Harris, of Lamberhurst,
Kent, one single plant only; and it has flowered several times. Messrs.
Sander have crossed _Catt. guttata Leopoldii_, Brazil, with _Catt.
Dowiana_, Costa Rica, giving _Catt. Chamberliana_; _Loelia crispa_,
Brazil, with the same, giving _Loelio-Cattleya Pallas_; _Catt.
citrina_, Mexico, with _Catt. intermedia_, Brazil, giving _Catt. citrina
intermedia_ (Lamberhurst hybrid); _Loelia flava_, Brazil, with _Catt.
Skinneri_, Costa Rica, giving _Loelio-Catt. Marriottiana_; _Loelia
pumila_, Brazil, with _Catt. Dowiana_, Costa Rica, giving
_Loelio-Catt. Normanii_; _Loelia Digbyana_, Central America, with
_Catt. Mossiæ_, Venezuela, giving _Loelio-Catt. Digbyana-Mossiæ_;
_Catt. Mossiæ_, Venezuela, with _Loelia cinnabarina_, Brazil, giving
_Loelio-Catt. Phoebe_. Not yet flowered and unnamed, raised in the
Nursery, are _Catt. citrina_, Mexico, with _Loelia purpurata_, Brazil;
_Catt. Harrisoniæ_, Brazil, with _Catt. citrina_, Mexico; _Loelia
anceps_, Mexico, with _Epidendrum ciliare_, U.S. Colombia. In other
genera there are several hybrids of Mexican and South American
parentage; as _L. anceps_ × _Epid. ciliare_, _Sophronitis grandiflora_ ×
_Epid. radicans_, _Epid. xanthinum_ × _Epid. radicans_.

But among Cypripediums, the easiest and safest of all orchids to
hybridize, East Indian and American species are unfruitful. Messrs.
Veitch obtained such a cross, as they had every reason to believe, in
one instance. For sixteen years the plants grew and grew until it was
thought they would prove the rule by declining to flower. I wrote to
Messrs. Veitch to obtain the latest news. They inform me that one has
bloomed at last. It shows no trace of the American strain, and they have
satisfied themselves that there was an error in the operation or the
record. Again, the capsules secured from very many by-generic crosses
have proved, time after time, to contain not a single seed. In other
cases the seed was excellent to all appearance, but it has resolutely
refused to germinate. And further, certain by-generic seedlings have
utterly ignored one parent. _Zygopetalum Mackayi_ has been crossed by
Mr. Veitch, Mr. Cookson, and others doubtless, with various
Odontoglossums, but the flower has always turned out _Zygopetalum
Mackayi_ pure and simple--which becomes the more unaccountable more
one thinks of it.

Hybrids partake of the nature of both parents, but they incline
generally, as in the extreme cases mentioned, to resemble one much more
strongly than the other. When a Cattleya or Loelia of the single-leaf
section is crossed with one of the two-leaf, some of the offspring, from
the same capsule, show two leaves, others one only; and some show one
and two alternately, obeying no rule perceptible to us at present. So it
is with the charming _Loelia Maynardii_ from _L. Dayana_ × _Cattleya
dolosa_, just raised by Mr. Sander and named after the Superintendent of
his hybridizing operations. _Catt. dolosa_ has two leaves, _L. Dayana_
one; the product has two and one alternately. Sepals and petals are
alike in colour, rosy crimson, veined with a deeper hue; lip brightest
crimson-lake, long, broad and flat, curving in handsomely above the
column, which is closely depressed after the manner of _Catt. dolosa_.

The first bi-generic cross deserves a paragraph to itself if only on
that account; but its own merits are more than sufficient.
_Sophro-Cattleya Batemaniana_ was raised by Messrs. Veitch from
_Sophronitis grandiflora_ × _Catt. intermedia_. It flowered in August,
1886; petals and sepals rosy scarlet, lip pale lilac bordered with
amethyst and tipped with rosy purple.

But one natural hybrid has been identified among Dendrobes--the progeny
doubtless of _D. crassinode_ × _D. Wardianum_. Messrs. J. Laing have a
fine specimen of this; it shows the growth of the latter species with
the bloom of the former, but enlarged and improved. Several other hybrid
crosses are suspected. Of artificial we have not less than fifty.

Phaius--it is often spelt Phajus--is so closely allied with Calanthe
that for hybridizing purposes at least there is no distinction. Dominy
raised _Ph. irroratus_ from _Ph. grandifolius_ × _Cal. vestita_; Seden
made the same cross, but, using the variety _Cal. v. rubro-occulata_, he
obtained _Ph. purpureus_. The success is more interesting because one
parent is evergreen, the other, Calanthe, deciduous. On this account
probably very few seedlings survive; they show the former habit. Mr.
Cookson alone has yet raised a cross between two species of Phajus--_Ph.
Cooksoni_ from _Ph. Wallichii_ × _Ph. tuberculosus_. One may say that
this is the best hybrid yet raised, saving _Calanthe Veitchii_, if all
merits be considered--stateliness of aspect, freedom in flowering,
striking colour, ease of cultivation. One bulb will throw up four
spikes--twenty-eight have been counted in a twelve-inch pot--each
bearing perhaps thirty flowers.

Seden has made two crosses of Chysis, both from the exquisite _Ch.
bractescens_, one of the loveliest flowers that heaven has granted to
this world, but sadly fleeting. Nobody, I believe, has yet been so
fortunate as to obtain seed from _Ch. aurea_. This species has the rare
privilege of self-fertilization--we may well exclaim, Why! why?--and it
eagerly avails itself thereof so soon as the flower begins to open.
Thus, however watchful the hybridizer may be, hitherto he has found the
pollen masses melted in hopeless confusion before he can secure them.

One hybrid Epidendrum has been obtained--_Epi. O'Brienianum_ from _Epi.
evectum × Epi. radicans_; the former purple, the latter scarlet, produce
×a bright crimson progeny.

Miltonias show two natural hybrids, and one artificial--_Mil. Bleuiana_
from _Mil. vexillaria × Mil. Roezlii_; both of these are commonly
classed as Odontoglots, and I refer to them elsewhere under that title.
M. Bleu and Messrs. Veitch made this cross about the same time, but the
seedlings of the former flowered in 1889, of the latter, in 1891. Here
we see an illustration of the advantage which French horticulturists
enjoy, even so far north as Paris; a clear sky and abundant sunshine
made a difference of more than twelve months. When Italians begin
hybridizing, we shall see marvels--and Greeks and Egyptians!

Masdevallias are so attractive to insects, by striking colour, as a
rule, and sometimes by strong smell--so very easily fertilized
also--that we should expect many natural hybrids in the genus. They are
not forthcoming, however. Reichenbach displayed his scientific instinct
by suggesting that two species submitted to him might probably be the
issue of parents named; since that date Seden has produced both of them
from the crosses which Reichenbach indicated.

We have three natural hybrids among Phaloenopsis. _Ph. intermedia_ made
its appearance in a lot of _Ph. Aphrodite_, imported 1852. M. Porte, a
French trader, brought home two in 1861; they were somewhat different,
and he gave them his name. Messrs. Low imported several in 1874, one of
which, being different again, was called after Mr. Brymer. Three have
been found since, always among _Ph. Aphrodite_; the finest known is
possessed by Lord Rothschild. That these were natural hybrids could not
be doubted; Seden crossed _Ph. Aphrodite_ with _Ph. rosea_, and proved
it. Our garden hybrids are two: _Ph. F.L. Ames_, obtained from _Ph.
amabilis × Ph. intermedia_, and _Ph. Harriettæ_ from _Ph. amabilis ×
Ph. violacea_, named after the daughter of Hon. Erastus Corning, of
Albany, U.S.A.

Oncidiums yield only two natural hybrids at present, and those
uncertain; others are suspected. We have no garden hybrids, I believe,
as yet. So it is with Odontoglossums, as has been said, but in the
natural state they cross so freely that a large proportion of the
species may probably be hybrids. I allude to this hereafter.

I have left Cypripediums to the last, in these hasty notes, because that
supremely interesting genus demands more than a record of dry facts.
Darwin pointed out that Cypripedium represents the primitive form of
orchid. He was acquainted with no links connecting it with the later and
more complicated genera; some have been discovered since that day, but
it is nevertheless true that "an enormous extinction must have swept
away a multitude of intermediate forms, and left this single genus as
the record of a former and more simple state of the great orchidacean
order." The geographical distribution shows that Cypripedium was more
common in early times--to speak vaguely--and covered an area yet more
extensive than now. And the process of extermination is still working,
as with other primitive types.

Messrs. Veitch point out that although few genera of plants are
scattered so widely over the earth as Cypripedium, the species have
withdrawn to narrow areas, often isolated, and remote from their
kindred. Some are rare to the degree that we may congratulate ourselves
upon the chance which put a few specimens in safety under glass before
it was too late, for they seem to have become extinct even in this
generation. Messrs. Veitch give a few striking instances. All the plants
of _Cyp. Fairieanum_ known to exist have sprung from three or four
casually imported in 1856. Two bits of _Cyp. superbiens_ turned up among
a consignment of _Cyp. barbatum_; none have been found since, and it is
doubtful whether the species survives in its native home. Only three
plants of _Cyp. Marstersianium_ have been discovered. They reached Mr.
Bull in a miscellaneous case of Cypripediums forwarded to him by the
Director of the Botanic Gardens at Buitzenzorze, in Java; but that
gentleman and his successors in office have been unable to find another
plant. These three must have reached the Gardens by an accident--as they
left it--presented perhaps by some Dutchman who had been travelling.

_Cyp. purpuratum_ is almost extinct at Hong Kong, and is vanishing fast
on the mainland. It is still found occasionally in the garden of a
peasant, who, we are told, resolutely declines to sell his treasure.
This may seem incredible to those who know the Chinaman, but Mr.
Roebelin vouches for the fact; it is one more eccentricity to the credit
of that people, who had quite enough already. Collectors expect to find
a new habitat of _Cyp. purpuratum_ in Formosa when they are allowed to
explore that realm. Even our native _Cyp. calceolus_ has almost
disappeared; we get it now from Central Europe, but in several districts
where it abounded the supply grows continually less. The same report
comes from North America and Japan. Fortunate it is, but not surprising
to the thoughtful observer, that this genus grows and multiplies with
singular facility when its simple wants are supplied. There is no danger
that a species which has been rescued from extinction will perish under
human care.

This seems contradictory. How should a plant thrive better under
artificial conditions than in the spot where Nature placed it? The
reason lies in that archaic character of the Cypriped which Darwin
pointed out. Its time has passed--Nature is improving it off the face of
the earth. A gradual change of circumstances makes it more and more
difficult for this primitive form of orchid to exist, and, conscious of
the fate impending, it gratefully accepts our help.

One cause of extermination is easily grasped. Cypripeds have not the
power of fertilizing themselves, except a single species, _Cyp.
Schlimii_, which--accordingly, as we may say--is most difficult to
import and establish; moreover, it flowers so freely that the seedlings
are always weak. In all species the sexual apparatus is so constructed
that it cannot be impregnated by accident, and few insects can perform
the office. Dr. Hermann Muller studied _Cyp. calceolus_ assiduously in
this point of view. He observed only five species of insect which
fertilize it. _Cyp. calceolus_ has perfume and honey, but none of the
tropical species offer those attractions. Their colour is not showy. The
labellum proves to be rather a trap than a bait. Large insects which
creep into it and duly bear away the pollen masses, are caught and held
fast by that sticky substance when they try to escape through the
lateral passages, which smaller insects are too weak to force their way

Natural hybrids occur so rarely, that their existence is commonly
denied. The assertion is not quite exact; but when we consider the
habits of the genus, it ceases to be extraordinary that Cypripeds
rarely cross in their wild state. Different species of Cattleya,
Odontoglots, and the rest live together on the same tree, side by side.
But those others dwell apart in the great majority of cases, each
species by itself, at a vast distance perhaps from its kindred. The
reason for this state of things has been mentioned--natural laws have
exterminated them in the spaces between, which are not so well fitted to
maintain a doomed race.

Doubtless Cypripeds rarely fertilize--by comparison, that is, of
course--in their native homes. The difficulty that insects find in
performing that service has been mentioned. Mr. Godseff points out to me
a reason far more curious and striking. When a bee displaces the pollen
masses of a Cattleya, for instance, they cling to its head or thorax by
means of a sticky substance attached to the pollen cases; so, on
entering the next flower, it presents the pollen _outwards_ to the
stigmatic surface. But in the case of a Cypriped there is no such
substance, the adhesive side of the pollen itself is turned outward, and
it clings to any intruding substance. But this is the fertilizing part.
Therefore, an insect which by chance displaces the pollen mass carries
it off, as one may say, the wrong side up. On entering the next flower,
it does not commonly present the surface necessary for impregnation, but
a sterile globule which is the backing thereof. We may suppose that in
the earlier age, when this genus flourished as the later forms of orchid
do now, it enjoyed some means of fertilization which have vanished.

Under such disadvantages it is not to be expected that seed capsules
would be often found upon imported Cypripeds. Messrs. Veitch state that
they rarely observed one among the myriads of plants that have passed
through their hands. With some species, however, it is not by any means
so uncommon. When Messrs. Thompson, of Clovenfords, bought a quantity of
the first _Cyp. Spicerianum_ which came upon the market, they found a
number of capsules, and sowed them, obtaining several hundred fine
plants. Pods are often imported on _Cyp. insigne_ full of good seed.

In the circumstances enumerated we have the explanation of an
extraordinary fact. Hybrids or natural species of Cypripediums
artificially raised are stronger than their parents, and they produce
finer flowers. The reason is that they get abundance of food in
captivity, and all things are made comfortable for them; whilst Nature,
anxious to be rid of a form of plant no longer approved, starves and
neglects them.

The same argument enables us to understand why Cypripeds lend themselves
so readily to the hybridizer. Darwin taught us to expect that species
which can rarely hope to secure a chance of reproduction will learn to
make the process as easy and as sure as the conditions would admit--that
none of those scarce opportunities may be lost. And so it proves.
Orchidaceans are apt to declare that "everybody" is hybridizing
Cypripeds nowadays. At least, so many persons have taken up this
agreeable and interesting pursuit that science has lost count of the
less striking results. Briefly, the first hybrid Cypripedium was raised
by Dominy, in 1869, and named after Mr. Harris, who, as has been said,
suggested the operation to him. Seden produced the next in 1874--_Cyp.
Sedeni_ from _Cyp. Schlimii × Cyp. longiflorum_; curious as the single
instance yet noted in which seedlings turn out identical, whichever
parent furnish the pollen-masses. In every other case they vary when the
functions of the parents are exchanged.

For a long time after 1853, when serious work begun, Messrs. Veitch had
a monopoly of the business. It is but forty years, therefore, since
experiments commenced, in which time hundreds of hybrids have been
added to our list of flowers; but--this is my point--Nature has been
busy at the same task for unknown ages, and who can measure the fruits
of her industry? I do not offer the remark as an argument; our
observations are too few as yet. It may well be urged that if Nature had
been thus active, the "natural hybrids" which can be recognized would be
much more numerous than they are. I have pointed out that many of the
largest genera show very few; many none at all. But is it impossible
that the explanation appears to fail only because we cannot yet push it
far enough? When the hybridizer causes by force a fruitful union betwixt
two genera, he seems to triumph over a botanical law. But suppose the
genera themselves are artificial, only links in a grand chain which
Nature has forged slowly, patiently, with many a break and many a
failure, in the course of ages? She would finish her work bit by bit,
and at every stage the new variety may have united with others in
endless succession. Few natural hybrids can be identified among
Cattleyas, for instance. But suppose Cattleyas are all hybrids, the
result of promiscuous intercourse among genera during cycles of
time--suppose, that is, the genus itself sprang from parents widely
diverse, crossing, returning, intercrossing from age to age? It is
admitted that Cypripedium represents a primeval form--perhaps _the_
primeval form--of orchid. Suppose that we behold, in this nineteenth
century, a mere epoch, or stage, in the ceaseless evolution? Only an
irresponsible amateur could dare talk in this way. It would, in truth,
be very futile speculation if experiments already successful did not
offer a chance of proof one day, and others, hourly ripening, did not
summon us to think.

I may cite, with the utmost brevity, two or three facts which--to me
unscientific--appear inexplicable, unless species of orchid were
developed on the spot; or the theory of special local creations be
admitted. _Oncidium cucullatum_ flourishes in certain limited areas of
Peru, of Ecuador, of Colombia, and of Venezuela. It is not found in the
enormous spaces between, nor are any Oncidiums which might be accepted
as its immediate parents. Can we suppose that the winds or the birds
carried it over mountain ranges and broad rivers more than two thousand
miles, in four several directions, to establish it upon a narrow tract?
It is a question of faith; but, for my own part, I could as soon believe
that æsthetic emigrants took it with them. But even winds and birds
could not bear the seed of _Dendrobium heterocarpum_ from Ceylon to
Burmah, and from Burmah to Luzon in the Philippines; at least, I am
utterly unable to credit it. If the plants were identical, or nearly, in
their different habitats, this case would be less significant. But the
_D. heterocarpum_ of Ceylon has a long, thin pseudo-bulb, with bright
yellow flowers; that of Burmah is short and thick, with paler colouring;
that of Luzon is no less than three feet high, exaggerating the stature
of its most distant relative while showing the colour of its nearest;
but all, absolutely, the same botanic plant. I have already mentioned
other cases.

Experience hitherto suggests that we cannot raise Odontoglossum
seedlings in this climate; very, very few have ever been obtained.
Attempts in France have been rather more successful. Baron Adolf de
Rothschild has four different hybrids of Odontoglossum in bud at this
present moment in his garden at Armainvilliers, near Paris. M. Moreau
has a variety of seedlings.

Authorities admit now that a very great proportion of our Odontoglossums
are natural hybrids; so many can be identified beyond the chance of
error that the field for speculation has scarcely bounds. _O. excellens_
is certainly descended from _O. Pescatorei_ and _O. triumphans_, _O.
elegans_ from _O. cirrhosum_ and _O. Hallii_, _O. Wattianum_ from _O.
Harryanum_ and _O. hystrix_. And it must be observed that we cannot
trace pedigree beyond the parents as yet, saving a very, very few cases.
But unions have been contracting during cycles of time; doubtless, from
the laws of things the orchid is latest born of Nature's children in the
world of flora, but mighty venerable by this time, nevertheless. We can
identify the mixed offspring of _O. crispum Alexandræ_ paired with _O.
gloriosum_, with _O. luteopurpureum_, with _O. Lindleyanum_; these
parents dwell side by side, and they could not fail to mingle. We can
already trace with assurance a few double crosses, as _O. lanceans_, the
result of an alliance between _O. crispum Alexandræ_ and _O.
Ruckerianum_, which latter is a hybrid of the former with _O.
gloriosum_. When we observe _O. Roezlii_ upon the bank of the River
Cauca and _O. vexillarium_ on the higher ground, whilst _O. vexillarium
superbum_ lives between, we may confidently attribute its peculiarity of
a broad dark blotch upon the lip to the influence of _O. Roezlii_. So,
taking station at Manaos upon the Amazons, we find, to eastward,
_Cattleya superba_, to westward _C. Eldorado_, and in the midst _C.
Brymeriana_, which, it is safe to assume, represents the union of the
two; for that matter, the theory will very soon be tested, for M.
Alfred Bleu has "made the cross" of _C. superba_ and _C. Eldorado_, and
its flower is expected with no little interest.

These cases, and many more, are palpable. We see a variety in the making
at this date. A thousand years hence, or ten thousand, by more distant
alliances, by a change of conditions, the variety may well have
developed into a species, or, by marriage excursions yet wider, it may
have founded a genus.

I have named Mr. Cookson several times; in fact, to discourse of
hybridization for amateurs without reference to his astonishing "record"
would be grotesque. One Sunday afternoon, ten years ago, he amused
himself with investigating the structure of a few Cypripeds, after
reading Darwin's book; and he impregnated them. To his astonishment the
seed-vessel began to swell, and so did Mr. Cookson's enthusiasm
simultaneously. He did not yet know, and, happily, these experiments
gave him no reason to suspect, that pseudo-fertilization can be
produced, actually, by anything. So intensely susceptible is the
stigmatic surface of the Cypriped that a touch excites it furiously.
Upon the irritation caused by a bit of leaf, it will go sometimes
through all the visible processes of fecundation, the ovary will swell
and ripen, and in due time burst, with every appearance of fertility;
but, of course, there is no seed. Beginners, therefore, must not be too
sanguine when their bold attempts promise well.

From that day Mr. Cookson gave his leisure to hybridization, with such
results as, in short, are known to everybody who takes an interest in
orchids. Failures in abundance he had at first, but the proportion has
grown less and less until, at this moment, he confidently looks for
success in seventy-five per cent. of his attempts; but this does not
apply to bi-generic crosses, which hitherto have not engaged his
attention much. Beginning with Cypripedium, he has now ninety-four
hybrids--very many plants of each--produced from one hundred and forty
capsules sown. Of Calanthe, sixteen hybrids from nineteen capsules; of
Dendrobium, thirty-six hybrids from forty-one capsules; of Masdevallia,
four hybrids from seventeen capsules; of Odontoglossum, none from nine
capsules; of Phajus, two from two capsules; of Vanda, none from one
capsule; of bi-generic, one from nine capsules. There may be another
indeed, but the issue of an alliance so startling, and produced under
circumstances so dubious, that Mr. Cookson will not own it until he sees
the flower.

It does not fall within the scope of this chapter to analyze the list
of this gentleman's triumphs, but even _savants_ will be interested to
hear a few of the most remarkable crosses therein, for it is not
published. I cite the following haphazard:--

  Phajus Wallichii           × Phajus tuberculosus.
  Loelia præstans.           × Cattleya Dowiana.
    "      purpurata         × Cattleya Dowiana.
    "         "              × Loelia grandis tenebrosa.
    "         "              × Cattleya Mendellii.
    "      marginata         × Loelia elegans Cooksoni.
  Cattleya Mendellii         ×   "      purpurata.
     "     Trianæ            ×   "      harpophylla.
     "     Percivalliana     ×            "
     "     Lawrenceana       × Cattleya Mossiæ.
     "     gigas             ×     "    Gaskelliana.
     "     crispa            ×     "        "
     "     Dowiana           ×     "        "
     "     Schofieldiana     ×     "    gigas imperialis.
     "     Leopoldii         ×     "    Dowiana.
  Cypripedium Stonei         × Cypripedium Godefroyæ.
       "        "            ×      "      Spicerianum.
       "      Sanderianum    ×      "      Veitchii.
       "      Spicerianum    ×      "      Sanderianum.
       "      Io             ×      "      vexillarium.
  Dendrobium nobile nobilus  × Dendrobium Falconerii.
       "          "          ×     "      nobile Cooksonianum.
       "     Wardianum       ×     "      aureum.
       "          "          ×     "      Linawianum.
       "     luteolum        ×     "      nobile nobilius.
  Masdevallia Tovarensis     × Masdevallia bella.
       "      Shuttleworthii ×     "       Tovarensis.
       "           "         ×     "       rosea.

Of these, and so many more, Mr. Cookson has at this moment fifteen
thousand plants. Since my object is to rouse the attention of amateurs,
that they may go and do likewise, I may refer lightly to a consideration
which would be out of place under other circumstances. Professional
growers of orchids are fond of speculating how much the Wylam collection
would realize if judiciously put on the market. I shall not mention the
estimates I have heard; it is enough to say they reach many, many
thousands of pounds; that the difference between the highest and the
lowest represents a handsome fortune. And this great sum has been earned
by brains alone, without increase of expenditure, by boldness of
initiative, thought, care, and patience; without special knowledge also,
at the beginning, for ten years ago Mr. Cookson had no more acquaintance
with orchids than is possessed by every gentleman who takes an interest
in them, while his gardener the early time was both ignorant and
prejudiced. This should encourage enterprise, I think--the revelation of
means to earn great wealth in a delightful employment. But amateurs must
be quick. Almost every professional grower of orchids is preparing to
enter the field. They, however, must needs give the most of their
attention to such crosses as may be confidently expected to catch the
public fancy, as has been said. I advise my readers to be daring, even
desperate. It is satisfactory to learn that Mr. Cookson intends to make
a study of bi-generic hybridization henceforward.[9]

The common motive for crossing orchids is that, of course, which urges
the florist in other realms of botany. He seeks to combine tints, forms,
varied peculiarities, in a new shape. Orchids lend themselves to
experiment with singular freedom, within certain limits, and their array
of colours seems to invite our interference. Taking species and genera
all round, yellow dominates, owing to its prevalence in the great family
of Oncidium; purples and mauves stand next by reason of their supremacy
among the Cattleyas. Green follows--if we admit the whole group of
Epidendrums--the great majority of which are not beautiful, however. Of
magenta, the rarest of natural hues, we have not a few instances.
Crimson, in a thousand shades, is frequent; pure white a little rare,
orange much rarer; scarlet very uncommon, and blue almost unknown,
though supremely lovely in the few instances that occur. Thus the
temptation to hybridize with the object of exchanging colours is
peculiarly strong.

It becomes yet stronger by reason of the delightful uncertainty which
attends one's efforts. So far as I have heard or read, no one has yet
been able to offer a suggestion of any law which decides the result of
combination. In a general way, both parents will be represented in the
offspring, but how, to what degree either will dominate, in what parts,
colours, or fashions a hybrid will show its mixed lineage, the
experienced refuse to conjecture, saving certain easy classes. After
choosing parents thoughtfully, with a clear perception of the aim in
view, one must "go it blind." Very often the precise effect desired
appears in due time; very often something unlooked for turns up; but
nearly always the result is beautiful, whether or no it serve the
operator's purpose. Besides effect, however, there is an utility in
hybridization which relates to culture. Thus, for example, the lovely
_Cypripedium Fairieanum_ is so difficult to grow that few dealers keep
it in their stock; by crossing it with _Cyp. barbatum_, from Mount
Ophir, a rough-and-ready cool species, we get _Cyp. vexillarium_, which
takes after the latter in constitution while retaining much of the
beauty of the former. Or again, _Cypripedium Sanderianum_, from the
Malay Archipelago, needs such swampy heat as few even of its fellows
appreciate; it has been crossed with _Cyp. insigne_, which will flourish
anywhere, and though the seedlings have not yet bloomed, there is no
reasonable doubt that they will prove as useful and beautiful as in the
other case. _Cypripedium insigne_, of the fine varieties, has been
employed in a multitude of such instances. There is the striking _Cyp.
hirsutissimum_, with sepals of a nameless green, shaded yellow, studded
with spiculæ, exquisitely frilled, and tipped, by a contrast almost
startling, with pale purple. It is very "hot" in the first place, and,
in the second, its appearance would be still more effective if some
white could be introduced; present it to _Cyp. niveum_ and confidently
expect that the progeny will bear cooler treatment, whilst their "dorsal
sepal" will be blanched. So the charming _Masdevallia Tovarensis_, warm,
white and lowly, will take to itself the qualities, in combination, of
_Mas. bella_, tall, cool, and highly coloured red and yellow, as Mr.
Cookson has proved; so _Phaloenopsis Wightii_, delicate of growth and
small of flower, will become strong and generous by union with _Phal.
grandiflora_, without losing its dainty tones.

It is worth mention that the first Flora medal offered by the Royal
Horticultural Society for a seedling--a hybrid--in open competition was
won by _Loelia Arnoldiana_ in 1891; the same variety took the first
prize in 1892. It was raised by Messrs. Sander from _L. purpurata_ ×
_Catt. labiata_; seed sown 1881, flowered 1891.

And now for the actual process by which these most desirable results,
and ten thousand others, may be obtained. I shall not speak upon my own
authority, which the universe has no reason to trust. Let us observe the
methods practised in the great establishment of Mr. Sander at St.

    Remark, in the first place, the low, unshaded range of houses
    devoted to hybridization, a contrast to those lofty structures, a
    hundred yards long or more, where plants merely flourish and bloom.
    Their span roofs one may touch with the hand, and their glass is
    always newly cleaned. The first and last demand of the hybridizer is
    light--light--eternally light. Want of it stands at the bottom of
    all his disappointments, perhaps. The very great majority of
    orchids, such as I refer to, have their home in the tropics; even
    the "cool" Odontoglots and Masdevallias owe that quality to their
    mountaineering habit, not to latitude. They live so near the equator
    that sunshine descends almost perpendicularly--and the sun shines
    for more than half the year. But in this happy isle of ours, upon
    the very brightest day of midsummer, its rays fall at an angle of
    28°, declining constantly until, at midwinter, they struggle through
    the fogs at an inclination of 75°. The reader may work out this
    proportion for himself, but he must add to his reckoning the
    thickness of our atmosphere at its best, and the awful number of
    cloudy days. We cannot spare one particle of light. The ripening
    seed must stand close beneath the glass, and however fierce the
    sunshine no blind may be interposed. It is likely that the
    mother-plant will be burnt up--quite certain that it will be much

This house is devoted to the hybridizing of Cypripediums; I choose that
genus for our demonstration, because, as has been said, it is so very
easy and so certain that an intelligent girl mastered all its
eccentricities of structure after a single lesson, which made her
equally proficient in those of Dendrobes, Oncidiums, Odontoglots,
Epidendrums, and I know not how many more. The leaves are green and
smooth as yet, with many a fantastic bloom, and many an ovary that has
just begun to swell, rising amidst the verdure. Each flower spike which
has been crossed carries its neat label, registering the father's name
and the date of union.

Mr. Maynard takes the two first virgin blooms to hand: _Cypripedium
Sanderianum_, and _Cypripedium Godefroyæ_, as it chances. Let us cut off
the lip in order to see more clearly. Looking down now upon the flower,
we mark two wings, the petals, which stood on either side of the
vanished lip. From the junction of these wings issues a round stalk,
about one quarter of an inch long, and slightly hairy, called the
"column." It widens out at the tip, forming a pretty table, rather more
than one-third of an inch long and wide. This table serves no purpose in
our inquiry; it obstructs the view, and we will remove it; but the
reader understands, of course, that these amputations cannot be
performed when business is intended. Now--the table snipped off--we see
those practical parts of the flower that interest us. Beneath its
protection, the column divides into three knobbly excrescences, the
central plain, those on either side of it curling back and down, each
bearing at its extremity a pad, the size of a small pin's head, outlined
distinctly with a brown colour. It is quite impossible to mistake these
things; equally impossible, I hope, to misunderstand my description.
The pads are the male, the active organs.

But the column does not finish here. It trends downward, behind and
below the pads, and widens out, with an exquisitely graceful curve, into
a disc one-quarter of an inch broad. This is the female, the receptive
part; but here we see the peculiarity of orchid structure. For the upper
surface of the disc is not susceptible; it is the under surface which
must be impregnated, though the imagination cannot conceive a mere
accident which would throw those fertilizing pads upon their destined
receptacle. They are loosely attached and adhesive, when separated, to a
degree actually astonishing, as is the disc itself; but if it were
possible to displace them by shaking, they could never fall where they
ought. Some outside impulse is needed to bring the parts together. In
their native home insects perform that service--sometimes. Here we may
take the first implement at hand, a knife, a bit of stick, a pencil. We
remove the pads, which yield at a touch, and cling to the object. We lay
them one by one on the receptive disc, where they seem to melt into the
surface--and the trick is done. Write out your label--_"Cyp. Sanderianum
× Cyp. Godefroyæ_, Maynard." Add the date, and leave Nature to her work.

She does not linger. One may almost say that the disc begins to swell
instantly. That part which we term the column is the termination of the
seed-purse, the ovary, which occupies an inch, or two, or three, of the
stalk, behind the flower. In a very few days its thickening becomes
perceptible. The unimpregnated bloom falls off at its appointed date, as
everybody knows; but if fertilized it remains entire, saving the
labellum, until the seed is ripe, perhaps half a year afterwards--but
withered, of course. Very singular and quite inexplicable are the
developments that arise in different genera, or even species, after
fertilization. In the Warscewiczellas, for example, not the seed-purse
only, but the whole column swells. _Phaloenopsis Luddemanniana_ is
specially remarkable. Its exquisite bars and mottlings of rose, brown,
and purple begin to take a greenish hue forthwith. A few days later, the
lip jerks itself off with a sudden movement, as observers declare. Then
the sepals and petals remaining take flesh, thicken and thicken, while
the hues fade and the green encroaches, until, presently, they assume
the likeness of a flower, abnormal in shape but perfect, of dense green

This Cypripedium of ours will ripen its seed in about twelve months,
more or less. Then the capsule, two inches long and two-thirds of an
inch diameter, will burst. Mr. Maynard will cut it off, open it wide,
and scatter the thousands of seeds therein, perhaps 150,000, over pots
in which orchids are growing. After experiments innumerable, this has
been found the best course. The particles, no bigger than a grain of
dust, begin to swell at once, reach the size of a mustard-seed, and in
five or six weeks--or as many months--they put out a tiny leaf, then a
tiny root, presently another leaf, and in four or five years we may look
for the hybridized flower. Long before, naturally, they have been
established in their own pots.

Strange incidents occur continually in this pursuit, as may be believed.
Nine years since, Mr. Godseff crossed _Catasetum macrocarpum_ with
_Catasetum callosum_. The seed ripened, and in due time it was sown; but
none ever germinated in the proper place. A long while afterwards Mr.
Godseff remarked a tiny little green speck in a crevice above the door
of this same house. It grew and grew very fast, never receiving water
unless by the rarest accident, until those experts could identify a
healthy young Catasetum. And there it has flourished ever since,
receiving no attention; for it is the first rule in orchid culture to
leave a plant to itself where it is doing well, no matter how strange
the circumstances may appear to us. This Catasetum, wafted by the wind,
when the seed was sown, found conditions suitable where it lighted, and
quickened, whilst all its fellows, carefully provided for, died without
a sign. It thrives upon the moisture of the house. In a very few years
it will flower. In another case, when all hope of the germination of a
quantity of seed had long been lost, it became necessary to take up the
wooden trellis that formed the flooring of the path; a fine crop of
young hybrids was discovered clinging to the under side.

The amateur who has followed us thus far with interest, may inquire how
long it will be before he can reasonably expect to see the outcome of
our proceedings? In the first place, it must be noted that the time
shortens continually as we gain experience. The statements following I
leave unaltered, because they are given by Messrs. Veitch, our oldest
authority, in the last edition of their book. But at the Temple Show
this year Norman C. Cookson, Esq., exhibited _Catt. William Murray_,
offspring of _Catt. Mendellii × Catt. Lawrenceana_, a lovely flower
which gained a first class certificate. It was only four years old.

The quickest record as yet is _Calanthe Alexanderii_, with which Mr.
Cookson won a first-class certificate of the Royal Horticultural
Society. It flowered within three years of fertilizing. As a genus,
perhaps, Dendrobiums are readiest to show. Plants have actually been
"pricked out" within two months of sowing, and they have bloomed within
the fourth year. Phajus and Calanthe rank next for rapid development.
Masdevallia, Chysis, and Cypripedium require four to five years, Lycaste
seven to eight, Loelia and Cattleya ten to twelve. These are Mr.
Veitch's calculations in a rough way, but there are endless exceptions,
of course. Thus his _Loelia triophthalma_ flowered in its eighth
season, whilst his _Loelia caloglossa_ delayed till its nineteenth.
The genus _Zygopetalum_, which plays odd tricks in hybridizing, as I
have mentioned, is curious in this matter also. _Z. maxillare_ crossed
with _Z. Mackayi_ demands five years to bloom, but _vice versâ_ nine
years. There is a case somewhat similar, however, among the Cypripeds.
_C. Schlimii_ crossed with _C. longifolium_ flowers in four years, but
_vice versâ_ in six. It is not to be disputed, therefore, that the
hybridizer's reward is rather slow in coming; the more earnestly should
he take measures to ensure, so far as is possible, that it be worth
waiting for.


[Footnote 9: Mr. Cookson writes to me: "Give some of the credit to my
present gardener, William Murray, who is entitled to a large proportion,
at least."]


  Aerides Lawrenciæ      160
  Angræcum arcuatum      134
      "    caudatum      135
      "    Duchailluianum      134
      "    Ellisii      135
      "    falcatum      133
      "    Kotschyi      135
      "    Leonis      135
      "    Sanderianum      134
      "    Scottianum      135
      "    sesquipedale (Æranthus sesquipedalis)      135
  Anomatheca cruenta      11

  Begonia coralina      195
  Begonias      86
  Brassias      207
  Brassavola Digbyana      128
  Bulbophyllum barbigerum      169
       "       Beccarii      169
       "       Dearei      170
       "       Godseffianum      170
       "       Lobbii      170
  Bullthorn acacia      124

  Calanthe Alexanderii      246
      "    Dominii       214
      "    Sedeni       215
      "    Veitchii      215
  Catasetum barbatum      123
      "     Bungerothi (C. pileatum)      123
      "     callosum      123
      "     fimbriatum      123
  Cattleya Acklandiæ      154
      "    amethystoglossa      154
      "    aurea       115
      "    Brymeriana      232
      "    Dowiana      115, 151
      "    Hardyana      118
      "    hybrida       214
      "    labiata       111
      "    Lawrenceana       92
      "    Mendellii       117
      "       "      fly      117
      "    Mossiæ       111
      "    Sanderiana      118
      "    Skinneri alba      119
      "    superba      152
      "    Trianæ       111, 201
      "    violacea       110
  Coelogene cristata      160
       "      Dayana      161
       "      pandurata      160
       "      Sanderiana      161
  Cookson, Norman, Esq.     22433

    Arnold      27, 28, 70, 180, 181
    Bartholomeus      122, 180
    Bestwood      180
    Chaillu, M. Du      134
    Chesterton      180, 181
    Clarke      181
    Digance      181
    Dressel      77
    Endres      70
    Ericksson      32, 33
    Falkenberg       69
    Forstermann       162
    Gardner        174, 175, 181
    Hartweg      67
    Humblot      133
    Kerbach     72, 180
    Klaboch       70, 105, 180
    Kromer       95, 98, 99
    Lawrenceson      181
    Micholitz        30, 31
    Osmers       94, 181
    Oversluys       163, 180
    Roebelin      140, 160
    Roezl       66, 75, 76, 105, 139, 204, 205
    Schroeder       70
    Seyler       100
    Smith       180, 181
    Steigfers      99
    Swainson       173-175, 177, 179, 181
    Wallace       35
    Wallis       70
    Weir      67
  Cypripedium calceolus      82, 224, 225
       "      candidum      82
       "      Curtisi      32
       "      Fairieanum      223
       "      guttatum       82
       "      insigne       83, 84, 108
       "      macranthum       82
       "      niveum      85
       "      parviflorum        82
       "      planifolium        87
       "      pubescens        82
       "      purpuratum       223
       "      Sedeni         228
       "      spectabile        82
       "      Spicerianum        83, 85
       "      vexillarium       238
  Cymbidium Lowianum      195
       "    Albertesii      131

  Dendrobium atro-violaceum      131
      "      bigibbum      168
      "      Broomfieldianum      131
      "      Brymerianum      127
      "      Forstermanni      127
      "      Goldiei      130
      "      heterocarpum      230
      "      Johannis      168
      "      luteolum      195
      "      nobile nobilius      128
      "        "    Cooksoni     129
      "        "    Sanderianum      129
      "      phaloenopsis      168
      "            "        Schroederianum      29
      "      rhodopterygium      127
      "      superbiens      168
      "      Wardianum       125
  Disa Cooperi       166
   "   discolor      166
   "   grandiflora      165
   "   racemosa      165

  Epidendrum bicornutum      40
      "      O'Brienianum      220
      "      prismatocarpum      167
      "      radicans        167
      "      Randii      152
      "      rhizophorum      167

  Frogs, green, value of      13

  Galleandra Devoniana      156
  Grammatophyllum speciosum       171
         "        Measureseanum       171
         "        multiflorum       172

  Hybridizing       210

  Lycaste Skinneri      79-81, 206
     "       "     alba       79, 81
     "    aromatica      80
     "    cruenta        81
  Loelia anceps      109, 120, 122
     "     elegans       153
     "     Maynardii       218
     "     purpurata       153, 154
     "     guttata Leopoldi       152, 153, 154
     "     anceps alba       122
     "       "    Amesiana     109

  Masdevallia Livingstoniana      140
       "      Schlimii       76
       "      Tovarensis     27

  Odontoglossum Alexandræ      39, 67, 71
       "        citrosmum      58
       "        grande       107
       "        Hallii       77
       "        Harryanum       75
       "        Hybrids        64, 78, 108, 231
       "        noeveum          77
       "        ramossissimum (coeleste)       34
       "        Roezlii (Miltonia Roezlii)        64
       "        Schlieperianum       107
       "        vexillarium (Miltonia vexillaria)      104
       "        Williamsi         107
  Oncidium cibolletum       116
     "     crispum      47
     "     cucullatum      230
     "     fuscatum      90
     "     Jonesianum      116
     "     juncifolium      39
     "     Lanceanum     164
     "     luridum      39
     "     macranthum      88
     "     papilio       164
     "     sculptum       89
     "     serratum      89
     "     splendidum       162, 163
     "     superbiens      89

  Peristeria elata      138
  Phajus Cooksoni       219
    "    Humblotii       133
    "    irroratus       219
    "    purpureus        219
    "    tuberculosus       133
  Phaloenopsis       54
        "        amabilis       158
        "        cornucervi        159
        "        F.L. Ames       221
        "        Harriettæ        221
        "        intermedia         221
        "        Luddemanniana      244
        "        Manni          159
        "        Portei        159
        "        Sanderiana       159
        "        Schilleriana       158
        "        speciosa       157
        "        tetraspis       156

  Renanthera coccinea      113, 146, 147
  Roraima Mountain       77, 94

  Schomburgkia tibicinis      124
  Sobralias       196
  Sophro-Cattleya Batemaniana       218

  Thanatophore  92

  Utricularia Campbelli  199

  Vanda limbata      144
    "   Lowii        143, 148
    "   teres        143, 144

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