Sunday, October 28, 2012

Overwhelming Generosity

Hey Everyone,

Once again I am simply amazed, flabbergasted, overwhelmed (and any other appropriate adjective you can think of) over plant-people's generosity, in particular Orchid Growers.  I'd best start from the beginning or my overwhelmed-ness may not make as much sense.

Some of Bill's Tolumnias
Photo By Bill

When I first started out growing orchids the first person to show generosity was my mother and father who took me down to the local hardware store and, with a little bit of the family inheritance from my grandmother, bought me my first every shade house.  So there is act of generosity #1.  Then soon after I started trying to grow my orchids I thankfully found a wonderful forum by the name of OrchidGeeks, and through that I asked a million and one questions, from the complex to the painfully obvious and not once did anyone scold me for it, but instead they encouraged it and enjoyed watching my knowledge and competency grow.  As I was going about asking my million-and-one questions, one day I received a private message from a man who lives an hour-or-so drive from me, at first I thought, Uh Oh, I have finally asked that one question too many, but instead he told me that he liked to see a young person interested in the hobby and he wished to help me in any way he could, and gave me his personal email address so that I was easier to have our correspondence. 

One of Bill's Dendrobiums
Photo By Bill
At first I must admit I was nervous, I was only 14 or so and I had been told about stranger danger all my life, so I hesitantly sent him a message saying hi, and asked him a question or two… well within days upwards of 10 or so emails were going back and forth non-stop and very quickly all my friends learnt the name of this prestigious orchid grower by the name of Bill.  Well, since we first “met” over 1000 emails have gone back and forth with massive numbers of photos and questions, and normally with every answer Bill gave me I would then send back 10 more questions.  Now that I think back on it he had the patience of a saint… so there we have it, acts of generosity #2 (the members of OG answering my questions), #3 (Bill taking a chance on a young ‘un) and #4 (Bill answering by millions of questions).  After a while Bill then sent me his phone number and said to ring him for a chat because that way we could get far more questions answered in a short space of time, so I had my big long list of them organized and off we went, somehow 2 hours passed in what felt like 2 minutes, it was a wonderful chat.  While I was starting out, whenever I saw an orchid I liked I would always send an email off to bill asking if he had any experience with it and did he think I could grow it, and then if he thought I could I would then normally ask if he knew where I could get one and he would advise me on the best, and cheapest places to get one, either that or say he would give me one, at first I thought he was joking on the last point.  

Some of Bill's Tolumnias
Photo By Bill
Also one time he and I got chatting about an orchid and he told me where I could get one, but said that to save me having to go to the trouble he would add it to the list of plants he was ordering from them, and so he sent me them… Act of generosity #5.  We then got chatting on another occasion and we organized for dad and I to go out for a visit to his place.  He told me that he had to go out later that morning so we would sadly only be able to stay for an hour.  So I managed to convince dad and off we went early one Saturday morning... I think we ended up staying for 4-5 hours, when I said to dad that we better go, bill overheard and said that not to worry about it, he’d cancelled his appointment and we could stay as long as we liked.  As we had been walking around bill’s shade houses, 5 in total, every now and then bill would pick up a plant and give it to me to hold.  At first I thought he wanted me to carry it so he could have a look at it later to repot it or something, little did I know he was actually building up a pile of plants to give to me.  
Tolumnia Irene Gleason 'Snow Fire'
Photo By Bill
He gave me seedlings of this, and plants of that, he gave me Angraecums, Vandas, Cattleyas, Tolumnias, Dendrobiums and a lot of others.  He also told me to take out any plants I was having problems with and she showed me what was wrong with them, how to fix it, he gave them a spray of pesticide/fungicide, he demonstrated how to repot them, and then to top it off he gave me several big zip lock bags and told me to fill them all with various different fertilizer, he gave me a box of a pesticide and a bottle of a fungicide, all which have lasted me these past 2 years and will last me many more years to come.  He also told me how you “flask” orchids and showed me all the different stages of flasking too.  Then when we left, with the back seat of our car PACKED with all manner of things, dad then had to put up with me talking non-stop about how brilliant bill was.  Since then he has sent me several plants and flasks of orchids and even more advice…. I reckon that deserves 100  #’s of acts of generosity right there. 

Tolu. Keysha
Photo By Bill
From my friends on OrchidGeeks ive been given
Several native Dendrobiums from Steve and Sonia
Several Pterostylis species from Dan,
And a BAZZILLION Aussie terrestrials from Andrew,
Both Dan and Andrew also talked me through every step of potting the tubers, through watering, what to make the mix out of etc. etc.

Also some family friends of ours live in the Rainforest gave me their 3m x 3m Shade house, as well as a HEAP of Staghorn, Elkhorn and Birdnest ferns from their garden and several orchids as well, including a MASSIVE Dendrobium gracillicaule which you all saw a while ago in my photos.

I also decided to join a society.  I swear the society must have the most generous, kind, caring and giving people there ever there were.  I have been given

Tolu. Willowbank Flask
Photo By Bill
Dockrillias from John,
Catasetum from Mouri,
Flasks, numerous extra pots, and tags and other growing supplies when I bought some other stuff, and help repotting some specimens from Barry,
Phalaenopsis from Max,
someone also gave me an Aerides during the hussle and bussle of packing down the autumn show last year so I sadly cannot remember who gave me that one,
I then have been given countless keiki’s and other bits from other members,
I got a Blc Alma Kee 'Tipmalee' from another John,
Tolu. Willowbank Lilac
Photo By Bill
I then got invited out to Reg’s house during Exam Block to see his shade house and he said he had “a couple of plants” for me, I didn’t know he meant 3 TRAYS, then last Thursday at the meeting he gave me some more keiki’s and and dendrobium biggibum which was COVERED in even more keiki’s
Then Brent told me he had a couple of plants for me too… when he said plants, he meant PLANTS he gave me 4 plants, all big MASSIVE happy healthy plants, he also told me how I could split them and sell some pieces and make a good profit from them too, yet he wasn’t going to do that and he thought it would give me an extra boost.

Tolu. Willowbank Rose
Photo By Bill
Sadly I have not been able to list every single act of generosity but in the space of 2 years or so, doesn’t all that just overwhelm the beejeesus out of you too?

When I was younger I had really low self esteem (yeah I know, everyone panic he’s getting deep and emotional), and no matter what I did I just couldn’t break myself of it, but meeting all these wonderful, kind, generous and amazing people has done wonders.  Each time they spare me the time of day to give me a piece of advice, let alone a plant, it makes me really think that I must be something special, they must think that I’m worth it because why else would they be doing it? I’m trying really hard to put how I feel onto this piece of space, but I’m just not managing it the extent that I want. 

Inside part of the Vanda House
Photo By Bill
All I can say is, thank you! you don’t know how major a part you have played in the way I am as a grower, as a person, and as a friend.  Your kindness will shine through all of the sad clouds and negative thoughts and will brighten my days for the rest of my life.

To all my wonderful friends, followers and fellow gardeners,

I hope you have an absolutely glorious day, and be sure to take notice of the kind things, the little things, and make sure you try and remember them because sadly they all too often get lost in the whirlpool of the little negative things.

Why not write them down so that on a sad day you can come back to them and see that the world isn’t so bad after all and it’s full of the Mums and the Bills and the countless other Andrews, Dans, Regs, Barrys and other kind people.

Happy Gardening,


 These are the recent plants that Brent gave me


  1. Nice start with orchids. I really liked your entry and your collection is impressive.

    Greetings from Spain!!

    1. It simply astounds me.

      the all the photos that are throughout the post are of my friends collection, the couple of photos at the end are of my plants

  2. Michael this post has brought a tear to my eye, I am so glad you have so many helpful and generous and kind gardening friends. And a huge orchid collection too by the sounds of it. Happy gardening days for you. Best Wishes Karen.

    1. awww, i'm sorry i made you cry, and this post only listed some of the kind things, there are still millions more orchid related ones let alone the gardening ones :)

  3. Wow, you've got some really nice friends! I've found orchid people to be the most kind and generous out of all the different types of growers too. They get a reputation for being pretentious and snooty over here, (not sure how they are there,) and for the most part orchid people can get that way too, sure, but that doesn't make them any less generous for some reason. It always surprises me when someone on OG sends something to me and refuses anything in return, or we start out as a simple trade and end up mailing packed boxes back and forth. I have so many people I want to send things to now.

    1. gotta love a Geek ;)

      i know i was hesitant when i started growing them because of the apparent snootyness, but since then i've found that it's only one or two that spoils it for everyone.

      i wish i was in the US so i could send some to you all.... one day i shall visit :)

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