Botanic Park wants 10,000 orchids

Every donation will help

Saturday, 7 November, is the first deadline for ordering orchids that will be installed in a new feature at the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park.

Cattleya orchid

The cattleya is a popular orchid.

Workers have already built a 382-foot boardwalk through a forest of the kinds of trees that will be good hosts for a hundred species of this plant family (Caymanian Compass, 7 October).

No government money has been used for the project and organizers hope that donations and fund-raisers will complete the work.

Members of the Cayman Islands Orchid Society and Friends of the Botanic Park have been placing orders for plants with Andrew Guthrie, park manager and Orchid Society secretary. Mr. Guthrie is compiling a comprehensive list of the desired plants, which will be filled by an established supplier to botanic parks.

‘Some people are ordering specific orchids, while others have given monetary donations,’ Mr. Guthrie reported. The donations have ranged from $50 to $1,000.

He noted that most orchids cost in the range of US$12 to $20, while some go up to $40 a piece.

Although the supplier will give the park a discount on catalogue prices, there are still freight and duty costs attached. Mr. Guthrie hopes some concessions can be obtained.

Orchid Society members are also encouraging residents to donate orchids they have cultivated. ‘Every orchid someone gives us is one less orchid we will have to purchase,’ Mr. Guthrie pointed out.

A list of plants the organizers are looking for is being circulated. See box.

The orchids being purchased are those that grow comfortably in this region. The goal is to have 100 plants of 100 different kinds.

Each kind will be massed on a single tree, so that when they are in bloom the effect will be spectacular, Mr. Guthrie said.

Since different orchids bloom at different seasons, visitors should see something flowering year round once the orchids are established, explained Kirkland Nixon, a long-time member of the Orchid Society.

‘This is a long-term project,’ Mr. Guthrie cautioned. Since much of the attaching of orchids to host trees will be done by volunteers, too many plants at one time could be overwhelming. On the other hand, the orchids can do well for months stored in the park nursery before they are placed in their permanent home.

Some orchids could be in place by Christmas, depending on weather and how much time volunteers have available. Mr. Guthrie said proceeds from the annual orchid show in February will be used to purchase more plants for future installation.

Indigenous Cayman orchids are not being solicited at this time. The most common – the banana, dollar and ghost orchids — are collected as developers invite Orchid Society members to remove them before land is cleared, Mr. Guthrie said.

Anyone interested in donating orchids or money to purchase orchids may contact Mr. Guthrie at the Botanic Park 947-9462, ext. 21; or Mr. Nixon, 916-1016.