Orchid Society down, not out

More than 30 members of the Orchid Society turned out last Sunday for their first meeting since Hurricane Ivan.

The meeting took the form of a social afternoon, held at the Visitors Centre of the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park.

Society president Dr. John Vlitos said a lot of members reported losing all or a large part of their orchid collection, ‘but they want to get started again.’

Founding member Ms Joyce Hylton said, ‘Deep down I know we should continue the effort to make everything vibrant again, but right now it’s hard.’

It was not just the hurricane winds that destroyed the fragile-looking plants, she noted. Those that survived the hurricane couldn’t take the salt water that flooded some areas. Then there were weeks of intense heat afterwards, with little or no shade, little or no water, Ms Hylton said.

One member who said she saved a lot was Ms Melita Saunders. Before the hurricane, she strung a line across beams in her garage and hung orchids there. Others she took out of a tree and secured them in a ficus hedge.

After Ivan passed, she was able to put orchids outside again because her neem tree withstood the storm and did not lose many leaves.

Other members reported putting some of their orchids in the bathtub for protection.

The afternoon social gave orchid enthusiasts a chance to hear each other’s stories, commiserate and encourage.

Dr. Vlitos said the Orchid Society will hold its first post-Ivan business meeting in April. Anyone interested in joining may contact the secretary, Mr. Andrew Guthrie, at 947-9462.

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