IT’S the long-lasting nature of orchids that first attracted former taxi driver Bob Foster to growing them.
Now, as an experienced grower, he reaps the rewards with beautiful blooms for most of the year. Bob is the president of the Tamworth Orchid Society, which will host its annual show at Tamworth Shoppingworld today, tomorrow and Saturday.
He said orchids were a relatively “new” plant, only having been around for something like 60,000 years. “They’re quite young, compared to a lot of other plants,” Mr Foster said.
This year they’ve been harder to grow in Tamworth, so what the annual show lacks in quantity, it’s sure to make up for in quality. “They don’t like the frost and don’t like the real heat, so growing orchids in Tamworth is somewhat of a challenge,” Mr Foster said.
“Mind you, I’ve had it up to 50 degrees in the hothouse and it hasn’t killed them yet.”
Mr Foster said different types of orchids flowered at various times through the year – and once they started blooming, could last up to several months.
“They’re a very good long-lasting flower. I’ve got one at the moment that’s been flowering for three months,” he said.
“They can be hard to grow when you start out, but once they’re established and you get the knack, it gets easier.”
Society publicity officer Cheryl Harris agreed, saying it was almost an “art form” growing orchids in Tamworth.
“I’ve just come back from Coffs Harbour where they have a beautiful, temperate climate, but even they struggled this year,” Mrs Harris said.
“Over there they had the wet and the cold in what was their summer, which cooled things down and upset the growing pattern, whereas here in Tamworth they were affected by the extreme heat conditions. Still – I’d rather spend $30 on an orchid and have it bloom for months, than spend the same amount on a bunch of flowers that will die within days.”