My recent stay in Johannesburg fortunately coincided with the World Orchid Conference and Show, sometimes called the Olympics of Orchids, at the Sandton Convention Centre.
The Theme was “Gold in the Green Age”, reflecting the natural riches of southern Africa and the need to balance the exploitation of these riches with the preservation of the natural environment.
South Africa has almost 500 wild orchids, many only growing in SA. In Gauteng,the home province, there are 54 recorded wild orchid species, mostly terrestrial grassland orchids much threatened now by urban development.
I loved the Cape Orchid Society’s Stand which recreated a botanist’s study, complete with microscope and small reference library.
There were representatives from the orchid societies across South Africa, including the local Witwatersrand Orchid Society, whose emblem is the spring-flowering Leopard orchid (Ansellia africana).
There were participants from Denmark, Ecuador (who will host the next Conference in 2017), Indonesia, Taiwan and Australia (who were making a strong play to host the 2020 Conference) amongst others. But the winning Stand was the Chaiwattana Orchids from Thailand, a beautifully displayed sanctuary of rock features and waterfalls.
Here is a glimpse of some of the range of orchids :
The first WOC and Show was proposed by American, Gordon Dillon, as a meeting between amateur and professional growers, conservationists and scientists, and was held in St Louis in 1954. The popularity has grown and I spent a wonderful day in the company of keen growers, amateur and professional, each with their own experience of perhaps battling the elements (Gauteng can have very cold winters) or seeking to expand their collections.
But there had to be a winning orchid, so here below is Best in Show, Angulocaste Olympus ‘Honey”.
But they all looked very beautiful to me!