Orchids on display

Visitors to the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park will get an extra treat this weekend, while orchid enthusiasts will be attracted by the opportunity to buy plants that have not been available here before, says park general manager John Lawrus.

The Cayman Islands Orchid Society’s annual show takes place on Saturday and Sunday, 5-6 March, at the park off Frank Sound Road. The display of society members’ orchids promises to be the up-close-and-personal kind, with the allotted area covering a large portion of the Visitors Centre ground floor.

Rustic borders form an oval, which will allow viewers to walk around and inspect the entire display from all angles. Society member Anita Hartwell heads a team that is organised to have everything in place well on time.

Some from Jamaica, Hawaii

The several hundred orchids for sale are already on island, Lawrus says, and will be displayed in a tent to the side of the Visitors Centre. Along with the popular types brought in from a well-known supplier in Jamaica, organisers this year have accessed a nursery in Hawaii, he revealed.

Lawrus cautioned that the plants from Hawaii are not native to those islands. However, they do include species and hybrids that have not been brought to Cayman before, such as the Dendrobium jenkinsii, Oncidium splendidum, and Dendrobium ‘Roy Tokunga’.

Although these orchids travelled more than 15 times the distance of the orchids from Jamaica, shipping expenses have not been a major factor in pricing because the plants themselves do not weigh much. Lawrus explains that they are not in bloom and not potted. One advantage is that the orchid grower will be free to use his or her favourite potting method.

Not seeing the orchid in bloom is something of a disadvantage, he says, but the display will include colour photographs of each flower.

Prices are as low as $11 and $13, with the most expensive Cymbidium madidum going for $50. The orchids from Jamaica are largely in bloom.

Outside, at the rear of the Visitors Centre, there will be orchid care demonstrations by local experts Kirkland Nixon and Dr. KC Sekar in the morning and afternoon of both days.

The orchid show and sale is a combination of efforts by the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park and the Orchid Society. Profits will go to adding more orchids to the Orchid Boardwalk feature that opened in the park last year.

Regular admission rates apply: $8 for adults; children 12 and under, free when accompanied by an adult.


Botanic Park general manager John Lawrus checks on orchids that will be available for purchase during the show this weekend.
Photo: Carol Winker