Growing Hardy Orchids. Philip Seaton, Phillip Cribb, Margaret Ramsey, and John Haggar. 2011. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey. Distributed by University of Chicago Press, 1427 E. 60th Street Chicago, IL. 128 pages. $23.00 Paperback. ISBN:978-1-84246-175-4.
Growing Hardy Orchids is a quick and easy to use, attractive paperback about the size of a 7-1/2 x 9-1/2 portrait, laid out in landscape format. The book is made of “paper from responsible sources”, but it does not remind one of old-fashioned recycled paper. The paper on which this book is printed is of exceptional quality with a silky feel. However, this book is not just another pretty one with a good conscience.
Written by Philip Seaton, Phillip Cribb, Margaret Ramsay, and John Haggar for the Kew Growing Series, this book is by expert growers and a micropropagation and seedling expert from Kew Gardens. The book is geared toward growers, horticulturists, students of orchids, lovers of orchids, curators, and anyone in the temperate zones who wants to grow outdoor orchids. The book covers everything that the beginner would need but is a useful guide for experts seeking a new and different type of orchid to grow. The hardy orchids are perhaps all the more interesting because they overwinter in harsh conditions.
The photographs, figures, and illustrations are executed and framed beautifully and are well-chosen to illustrate the advisory points of the book. The 160 color plates are well-credited and were contributed mostly by the authors. The graphic illustrations were drawn by Philip Seaton and are crisp and colorful. Almost every page includes an illustration or a photograph.
The Foreword includes a brief history of orchids and the myths surrounding them and discusses orchid conservation. Chapters that follow and comprise the first third of the book include Why Grow Hardy Orchids, Working with Nature, The Orchid Family, Habitat and Ecology, Conservation, Composts, Glasshouse Techniques, Cultivation in the Garden (which has a handy table of growing conditions for wild hardy orchids), and Pests and Diseases. Each chapter is well-written with expert information, sharp photographs, and clean drawings. Yellow boxes are used to set off important summary information in the beginning chapters. Examples of these quick-find boxes include step-by-step repotting techniques, safety notes, and growers’ tips.
The second part of the book begins with a discussion of Raising Orchids from Seed to Flowering Plant. This section includes a summary box in lilac explaining Symbiotic and Asymbiotic Propagation. A chapter on Dactylorhiza is printed on pale pink paper; one on Orphrys is printed on pale peach-colored paper, and one on Pleione is printed on pale lilac paper. These chapters also include the characteristic high quality photographs and illustrations.
The final section of the book contains Hardy Orchid Genera arranged in alphabetical order. Each Genus section lists recommended species, some with recommended hybrids, the habitat required, the culture, and the appropriate compost recipe. Each Genus is accompanied by identifying photographs. The last few pages of this section feature rare hardy species with the same information included for each genus, as well as a glossary, a list of additional reading, acknowledgements, and an index.
Growing Hardy Orchids is an easy read and full of helpful information. Anyone in northern hemisphere temperate zones who is at all interested in orchids will enjoy this book. Hardy orchids are easy to grow, and they multiply quickly under the right conditions. This book gives you much that you need to know to grow your own temperate orchid field.