Sunday, May 12, 2019

Orchid Modern

Orchid Modern is a gardening and design guide aimed specifically at orchids. Author Marc Hachadourian is a botanist and orchid expert and curator of the orchid collection of the New York Botanical Gardens. Due out 25th June 2019 from Timber Press, it's 272 pages and will be available in paperback and ebook formats.

Orchids have had a weird reputation for ages. From the earlier modern times, they were extremely costly and rare. They often were collected in the wild, threatening natural habitats and stressing the plants to the point of death. They (unfairly) also got the incorrect label of 'difficult' and 'fussy'. With the advent of sterile culture and flasking techniques along with aseptic microculture, it's perfectly possible to reproduce desirable orchids, both species and hybrids, at low cost and with good results. This has led to many millions of orchids being reproduced and shipped to big box stores and even grocery stores. People buy them, take them home and when they fail to thrive, quite possibly through no error of the owner, they wrongly assume that the fault lies with them, and not with a stressed or unhappy plant.

That's where this book comes in. The author understands the botany and biology behind the mechanisms orchids use to grow, thrive, and reproduce. The introductory chapters include a bit of history, some layman accessible botany, a seasonal task based calendar, and wonderfully lush illustrations and photography. There's also a good basic photographic introduction on some of the different types of orchids which are available and how they differ from one another.

The middle 25% of the book has a number of really interesting and appealing tutorials for arranging and culture of orchids (instead of just bunging them into a pot and leaving it at that). The terraria are very reminiscent of 19th century naturalist style with glass-paned copper foil containers. I really love them. The showstopper of the 10 included tutorial projects has to be the orchid (and tillandsia) bonsai tree which is just breathtaking.

Roughly the final 30% of the book is a reference listing different orchids, their culture, habits, and other info.

The author has also included a comprehensive and wonderfully useful listing of ethical plant vendors and resources for further education and sourcing materials. I spent literally hours link-hopping from one vendor to the next.  The links listed are for vendors worldwide and are just amazing. Along with the vendor list is a list of worldwide botanical gardens with displays of orchids (and links to their collections, if available).

This is a beautifully written and presented book with -gorgeous- projects and so very many more orchids to introduce to the home hobbyist than just the Phalaenopsis with which we're all familiar.

Five enthusiastic stars. I will be recommending this book to all my gardening friends.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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