This section is from the book "The Gardener V3", by William Thomson. Also available from Amazon: The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener.
Among the many new and rare plants exhibited for the first time at the meetings of the Royal Horticultural Society at South Kensington during the past year, were the following Orchids: Den-drobium superbiens, Calanthe Sedenii, and Laelia anceps alba - all alike being unanimously awarded first-class certificates by the Committee. They are perfectly distinct (the first and last more especially) from any known variety of the species or genus to which they respectively belong; and what is of primary importance, can easily be grown by a mere tyro in Orchid culture, and must eventually become very popular.
Dendrobium superbiens was exhibited by Mr B. S. Williams, on 15th January, and was at once pronounced to be of great sterling worth. It is of the D. bigibbum type, but is totally distinct from it. The growth is upright and cane-like, - when well grown, fully 4 feet in length. The gracefully drooping floral spikes - borne near the summit of the growth - consist in some instances of from twelve to sixteen flowers, the prevailing colour of which is a rich mauve. There may be said to be several varieties of it, the colour of some being of a rosy purple, others rosy lilac, and the petals sometimes faintly "wired" with white. A very remarkable quality it possesses, is the extraordinary duration of bloom, which lasts fully three months, and sometimes still longer. Being a native of Australia, it does not require a high temperature at any time, very little skill being required to grow it to perfection. Mr Bull has a splendid display of this grand mid-winter flowering Orchid.
Calanthe Sedenii, exhibited by the Messrs Veitch on 19th November, is a hybrid raised by that firm, and is the result of a cross between C. vestita and C. Veitchii. It is of vigorous growth, the spike strong and gracefully curved ; and the flowers, larger and richer than any of the species, are of a deep rose, tinged with magenta, increasing in intensity as they age to a still deeper tinge, and margined with white in the throat. With this variety, Messrs Veitch exhibited spikes of C. Veitchii, and the contrast afforded abundant proof of the decided superiority of C. Sedenii, and which may be fairly considered a great acquisition to this extremely useful class of plants.
Laelia anceps alba is a nearly pure white var., the only exception being a yellow blotch in the throat. The flower in other respects closely resembles L. anceps, but the pseudo-bulbs and leaves are smaller. It is a native of Mexico, and plants of it were found growing on precipitous rocks at an altitude of 8000 feet above the sea-level, where, as can be imagined, the cold is oftentimes intense. It might not inaptly be termed one of the coolest of cool Orchids; it certainly is one of the brightest gems to be found under this classification. A Southern Correspondent.