This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V21", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
I have read with interest the articles of C. H. S., Baltimore, and others in your columns, regarding orchids and their culture. It is an encouraging sign, that a lively interest seems to have been at last awakened in this country, in that most curious and entertaining class of plants, than which none are of greater delight or productive of more pleasure to the amateur.
We are slowly following in the footsteps of our English cousins, who long since ranked these plants among their choicest treasures, and searched tropical climes far and wide to obtain new and rare specimens, often at the cost of great labor, and large expenditure of time and money. It will be many, many years before we can hope to attain such proficiency in their culture, and still I am informed there are several collections in this country very creditable to their owners, if not the equal of some in Europe.
Perhaps the want of attention to this class of plants has been from a mistaken idea as to their culture and the care they require. New light regarding these matters seems to have been recently disseminated, and it is not now, as formerly considered, that a hot, moist atmosphere is a necessary essential to their growth and de-velopement. Particularly is this true of some of the Mexican orchids, and those from the cooler altitudes of South America, many of which will flourish and blossom beautifully with ordinary greenhouse heat, and when in bloom can be removed to a parlor or sitting room, when their flowers will remain in perfection a long while. In fact, experiments have been made and well nigh proved successful in growing them without heat, even during the summer months in the open air, as your correspondents and those of the Garden have told us. When grown with other plants, the varieties upon blocks and in hanging pots and baskets suspended from the rafters of the house, as well as those interspersed with ferns and palms, by the brilliancy of their flowers, add to the beauty of the rich display, and present a pleasing contrast; a very good idea of which may be had from the cut in The Orchid Grower's Manual, to which you have referred, page 15. Such an attempt is now being made in this country by Mr. Daniel Barker, at his spacious greenhouse, at the Bramble ton nurseries, near this city, with a large and varied consignment of Laelias, Cattleyas, Stanhopeas, Odonto-glossums, and other Mexican orchids, many of which are now rapidly coming into bloom.
These plants appear to be in fine condition, if the immense leaves of the Stanhopeas, most extraordinary in size, and the strong flower-stems of the Laelias are any indication, and it does not seem unsafe to conclude that his experiment will prove a succees. If as now seems probable, it should be fully demonstrated that the popular idea of growing orchids has been an erroneous one, - and the high authority of Mr. Williams' manual leads to that conclusion, - there is no reason why every greenhouse should not be favored with the presence of many of the hardiest and most beautiful of their class, and the taste for them become as popular here as in Europe, now that the competition of trade has brought them within the means of every lover of flowers.