Unique and difficult-to-find orchids went on display at the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park over the weekend during the Cayman Islands Orchid Society’s annual signature event.
The “Orchid Extravaganza” brought in flowers from Florida, Hawaii and Jamaica to offer gardeners a variety of choices not typically available at local nurseries.
A steady crowd brought hundreds of amateur to expert gardeners to the East End park on Saturday and Sunday. Guests were treated to an indoor display of orchids grown by society members and an outdoor barbecue that accompanied orchid care presentations.
Local orchid expert Kirkland Nixon offered his insight on growing what he said can often be a frustrating but rewarding flower.
“I’ve killed a lot of them,” he joked after an orchid care demonstration at the park’s visitors center.
He said his orchid obsession took root after his wife came home with some blooms from a trip to Jamaica in the early 1980s. He now has a 3,000-square-foot greenhouse where he grows the flowers alongside fruit and vegetable crops.
“When orchids bloom, all others pale in comparison,” he said.
Mr. Kirkland gave basic orchid care tips, explaining that the flowers prefer shady areas away from air conditioning. He said some common mistakes with orchids are over-watering and putting the flowers in overly large containers.
“You don’t get bigger orchids by putting them in bigger pots,” he said.
For those interested in learning more about growing orchids, society president Helen Hislop suggested joining the group and attending their monthly meetings, held on the second Saturday of the month.
She said the annual sale drives new members to sign up. While the sale is held in late February, Ms. Hislop suggested visiting the park in May or June to see local orchids blossoming along the park’s orchid walk.
The wooden walk is slated as one of the projects to benefit from the weekend’s ticket sales. Ms. Hislop said the walk is in good condition but could use repairs. The event’s sales are shared between the society and the botanic park.
Society volunteer Anita Hartwell walked guests through the indoor orchid display. She considers herself an orchid amateur but has already developed a large home garden.
“You start one by one and then you get addicted,” Ms. Hartwell said.
She did not have any orchids on display, explaining that the blooms can be unpredictable and hard to coordinate with the show.
Mr. Kirkland said the same of his blooms. He thought there were fewer blooms at the show than in the past, and added that even for the best growers, timing with orchids can be tricky.