Photos from the show: Layout

A day’s hard work on site – and several offsite – by many Tauranga Orchid Society members paid off with a show that has received a great many compliments and created  smiles for visitors. Here are some photos of what we achieved in 2017 (all images by Sandra Simpson).

Welcome to the woodland glade. Trees by Barry Curtis.

The woodland glade, complete with real sawn logs, fake grass and plenty of fake toadstools. Next stop, the rabbit hole!

Alice, made by Barry Curtis, ‘holds open’ the entry to the rabbit hole – a gazebo lined with black weedmat and hung with fairy lights.

Popping out the other side we come to the tea party. The rabbit was hired from The Incubator, while our clever Barry made the Mad Hatter and the Cheshire Cat.

Looking back towards the rabbit hole.

The Mad Hatter in full song atop his empty beer crates.

Barry carved the Cheshire Cat from polystyrene and used bristles from an outdoor broom for his whiskers.

Someone always has to play the fool! Conrad and Keith get silly with wrapping paper.

Craig figures out the length of a piece of string! In the background the bromeliad boys plot their outstanding display.

At the end of a long day what could be better than a nice cuppa? Conrad plays mother.

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Photos from the show: Flowers

Better late than never – first, I was recovering from the show and feeling like I’d seen quite enough orchids for the time being, thank you; second, the day job has been a bit busy …

Still, here we are and here are some of the beautiful plants on display at Alice in Orchidland. All photos by Sandra Simpson.

Calanthe discolour is a terrestrial orchid (ie, grows in soil) native to Korea, Japan and China.

Phaius tankervilleae (Lady Tankerville’s Swamp Orchid) is another terrestrial with a wide distribution, including PNG and Australia, and grows in swampy grassland.

The striking colour combination of Cattleya Luminosa enchanted some and had others shaking their heads. The plant was registered with the RHS in 1917.

The flowers of Dendrobium petiolatum may be small but what they lack in size thay make up for with colour. Native to New Guinea.

Oncidium rossii ‘Beenak’ x self (the label seemed to indicate that this plant was formerly a Lemboglossum).

Odontocidium Colombian Gold ‘Lochaven’.

Dendrochilum wenzelli is native to a small area of The Philippines.

Guaricyclia (syn. Epicattleya) Kyoguchi ‘Happy Field’.


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Tauranga champions 2017

The Tauranga Orchid Show is proving a great success – so many people have said they’re smiling all the way round the Alice in Orchidland display, which is beautifully supported by displays from the BOP Orchid Society, Whangarei Orchid Society, Leroy Orchids and the BOP Bromeliad Group.

Last day tomorrow at Tauranga Racecourse from 10am-4pm, $3 entry.

The judges did their thing this morning and the results are …

Grand Champion: Cattleya jongheana grown by Helen McDonald. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Reserve Champion: Cattleya Tricky Michelle x Cattleya Aussie Sunset, grown by Lee and Roy Neale of Auckland (Leroy Orchids). Photo: Sandra Simpson

Best Specimen Plant: Coelogyne cristata grown by Conrad Coenen of Apata. Conrad wins the new Natalie Simmonds Trophy, seen with the plant. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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Pre-show publicity: Conrad Coenen

Tauranga Orchid Show
September 22-24 (Friday-Sunday), 10am-4pm daily
Tauranga Racecourse, Greerton
$3 entry (under-12 free)

Although orchid growers ‘invariably’ kill a few plants they should chalk it up as part of the learning process, according to Tauranga Orchid Society president Conrad Coenen.

He won’t let on how many plants he’s sent to the great compost heap in the sky – or what their total value might be – but says he keeps the name labels to remind him of his mistakes. “It’s like gardening in general. You grow with your plants.”

Hundreds of years of orchid-growing experience will be available at this year’s Tauranga Orchid Show and Conrad invites people to take advantage of it. “Come and ask questions, look at the plants on display, watch our repotting demonstrations and buy some plants to take home and try.”

Conrad Coenen with his Zygolum Louisendorf ‘Conrad’s Star’, which in 2013 won an Orchid Council of New Zealand award. Photo: Sandra Simpson

A qualified nurseryman who works as a landscape gardener, Conrad is a ‘born-again’ enthusiast after letting his membership lapse as a young family and work took up his time.

“I remember buying an Anguloa clowesii, or tulip orchid, for $40, a huge sum for me back then. It flowered once in 5 years – but for me getting something a little bit difficult to flower is the whole excitement of orchids. We try things out, we look things up, we talk to people more knowledgeable than ourselves.

“What I love about belonging to an orchid society is the camaraderie, the people you meet and the plant collections you get to see.”

His favourites are Lycaste orchids, a close cousin to the Anguloa type. “They’re big, they’re bold and I can’t get them to flower,” he laughs. “I get one flower on a plant and think it’s amazing but I know they can throw 40 to 60 flowers at once.”

The theme for this year’s show is ‘Alice in Orchidland’ which is allowing society members to show off plants in a fun setting.

“The show is a chance to let people see some stunning flowers as well as letting them know that orchids aren’t always ‘hot-house flowers’ that need special equipment and demand lots of attention. There are plenty of people in Tauranga growing orchids outside and there are many cool-growing varieties that will do well here.”

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Here comes our show!

Please join us at

Alice in Orchidland

The adventurous orchid show
at Tauranga Racecourse

Massed display of flowering plants

Plants for sale

Potting demonstrations

Growing advice



Free parking

September 22-24, 10am-4pm daily
$3 entry (under 12 free)

Plant entries accepted from 2pm on September 21.rabbit - Copy
Plants may be collected at show’s end on September 24.
Please have a clear owner name on all plant pots.

Tauranga Orchid Society, while exercising all care, will not be held responsible for unnamed or uncollected plants.


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Knowing your roots!

Fourteen members and 2 visitors (with close club connections) gathered at Conrad’s on Sunday, August 6 for a new-grower workshop. What did we learn? The main message, no matter what type of orchid, is: If there’s a problem, tip the plant out and look at the roots. The difference between healthy roots (white) and degrading roots (brown) is obvious. Many plants are able to remake their root system when they’re happy.

BEFORE: A mass of tired Cymbidium roots. Photo: Sandra Simpson

AFTER: Conrad’s haircut didn’t leave much but he was confident it would regenerate new roots. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Roots are for drinking/feeding and breathing so what’s going on under the plant is essential to the health of the top of the plant.

Keep working tools clean and sterile and treat wounds/damage with Flowers of Sulphur or Conrad was using Physan in a squirt bottle.

Worms, centipedes, cockroaches or slaters in a pot means the bark is breaking down and it’s  time to change the medium. Some caterpillars live in the bark and come out to eat leaves. If cockroaches are a problem put the pot in a sealable plastic bag, spray the bark with fly spray, seal and leave until the cockroaches are dead.

Sphagnum moss is likely to keep the roots too wet and cold, or too dry – it’s better to use a chunky bark mix to let air round the roots, and water more frequently.

Roots go where the air and water flow so if a plant’s roots are growing along the inside wall of a pot it means the medium at the centre of the pot needs replacing.

Conrad puts coarser bark at the bottom of the pot and finer on top. If you use all fine bark it will start to clog the pot’s drainage holes as it breaks down, causing problems. Good-quality orchid bark is essential (the club makes an annual order, keep your eyes peeled for the notice).

Use a knitting needle or similar to work bark in around the plant roots, tapping and shaking the pot to settle the mix as you go.

The building block of plant cells is calcium so feed this to the plants for good health (calcium nitrate is available from Barry).

Conrad spreads dolomite lime over his pots when the weather starts to warm (September / October) and waters it in. The lime sweetens the bark. (Move any that don’t like lime!) Blood and bone is another good topdressing for watering in.

Tiny, but healthy roots. This little plant is grown only in a coir wrap. Photo: Sandra Simpson

A recycled computer part makes a nifty orchid mount. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Some plants, eg Oncidiums and Phalaenopsis, can grow with their roots exposed to the air so are better suited to slab culture (grown on a mount). When you split a plant, Conrad advises trying some in pots and some on mounts to see what happens.

Use warm water on cold days. If you have larger, clumpy plants soak them for half a day in a bucket of water mixed with the appropriate amount of fertiliser.

Orchid pseudobulbs and canes store carbohydrates (= sugars) so can rot easily. If you see it happening, cut out the affected bulbs/canes and sterilise the wound(s).

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New grower success

If there’s one thing we know about Bulbophyllum Elizabeth Ann ‘Buckleberry’  is that it’s hard to flower – ‘grows well’, everyone always says when yet another plant is offered at the annual auction, ‘but difficult to flower’.

So exciting news from one of our newer members – Dan Bond – who has a plant in flower. While talking to a long-time member of the society this morning, I mentioned Dan’s success and the experienced grower laughingly noted he’d had  B. Elizabeth Ann ‘Buckleberry’ since 1995 and had yet to see a flower! Dan has had his plant for 12 months.

The striking flower of Bulbophyllum Elizabeth Ann ‘Buckleberry’. Photo: Dan Bond.

The plant was registered in 1969 by J.Chambers and is a cross between Bulbophyllum longissimum and Bulbophyllum rothschildianum. This orchid is one of the most famous Bulbophyllum orchids, due to its pendant, showy blooms. Read more here.

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