About that wild orchid obsession

I think I may have a touch of orchid mania. It’s a communicable disorder in the same family as horse crazy and soccer fanatic, but I’m torleyheader062314not sure how it’s contracted. Maybe it’s in the air or the water. Maybe it’s on the surface of some books I read, the ones with pretty pictures.

For the soccer fanatic it seems to be a close contact disorder. For the person who is horse crazy, more of a disorder that develops over time without outside
reinforcement. Me? It seems to be airborne to me.

Just walking along through dappled shade stirs my pulse. I find my eyes casting downward, looking for mossy branches the wind has torn from trees. Even lichen covered rocks catch my eye. There . . . what is that. Nah, just another fern.

Most of the common wild orchids seem to be tiny. Small leaves, little flowers on stalks or snuggled up to a stem. They are no longer satisfying, not any more. I have so many little orchids now all rescued and well attached to trees and stumps in the shade garden. I need more.

“More,” of course, is a larger showier orchid, an eye-popper. I want it to be red or purple or orange. Naturally, I find the white ones . . . dang. Still, an orchid plant covered with white blooms is not a bad thing especially when there is a yellow touch or two.

So off I go, tramping across overgrown fields where I know there are probably snakes (they haven’t found me yet) heading toward a treed ravine where I know, I just know there will be branches and stumps (and snakes, but they still haven’t found me). I keep my eyes off the trees. You can’t take orchids from trees. But I look for old fence posts. I have a sack with me and a nice sharp machete for cutting limbs to cartable size and to help me uncover things hidden in the moss (like snakes).

And I do find them! Orchid plants of all sizes and types. Tiny ones that are not like anything I have and medium plants that are only attached to branches by a few roots. And then the larger orchids, larger plants with broad leaves that I know, absolutely, will produce a large bloom. What color will it be? I have to wait and find out. I think that’s where the “mania” part comes into play. It can be a year or two before I have an answer on color. It’s enough to make you tear your hair out!

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