WOC 20 – Singapore

WOC 20 – Singapore

Having a lot of slides to get through (180) a lot of the preamble was dispensed with apart from a display of the area and the huge venue. Lots of other events were taking place at the same time and you had to know just where to go – the exhibition was 2 floors below ground level, and the lectures were upwards. The venue is built on reclaimed land, and contains quite a lot of green areas as well as concrete, and the gardens by the bay will look very impressive when completed in Spring.

The exhibition hall was very large with a high ceiling and this allowed for some tall and large displays. My expectations were to see a huge amount of vandaceous plants and Dendrobiums, and these were everywhere. The floor layout was in lkrge islands in concentric rings with the largest nearer the centre which was a map of the world with a sample of what each continent can produce. In most cases this worked out well, but the more northern climes have fewer plants and become seasonal which are out of step at this time of year. Consequently Europe had more of the cooler growing plants that are popular such as Cymbidiums etc.

Two of the largest displays were in the first ring, and these were also the best display and reserve best display. The first one through the door was the OS of PNG. This had great impact with large wooden carved faces with fire in the shape of red dendrobiums coming from their noses and other dendrobiums for the hair in both orange and yellow. A large wicker bird made up of colourful dendrobiums added greatly to the effect. Vast numbers of antelope dendrobiums 4-5’ tall formed a backdrop, and an odd crocodile was surrounded by Den. cuthbertsonii. How lucky are people who live in these areas where they are native plants and in abundance all year around.

The Grand Champion display came from the Chaiwathana Orchid Gardens of Thailand. A carefully orchestrated riot of colour is probably an apt description of the exhibit. Red and blue vandas were present in great quantity with yellow oncidiums, colourful Tolumnias. At the floor level groups of paph. spicerianum, concolor and charlesworthii were shown. Groups of red Renantheras and orange intergenerics as well as groups of dendrobiums added to the colour. This was all hemmed in by the largest rope I’ve ever seen. In the UK we suffer from poor light and low temperatures, and when you see something like this it is almost enough to make me want to give up trying – but I’m not going to! The Indonesian OS had mounted a tall display with a local scene of cliffs, decorated houses, and even a peasant on an ox playing the flute (the peasant that is, not the ox). It was surrounded by thousands of cut spikes of Dendrobiums, white Phals and begonias, and some intricate starry flowered vandas.

The nagayo Show committee had a large display as well, but fewer plants, and these were more evenly spaced around tree branches. These included lots of Cymbidiums, smallish Cattleyas, oncidiums and several very nice orange nobile type dendrobiums.

The Orchid Council of NZ had a smallish display of cut spikes of Cymbidiums arranged with large Japanese fans – a different type of display, but quite effective just the same. Purification Orchids of the Philippines had white Phals, Cattleyas and some interesting jewel orchids – both Ludisia and Anoectochilus. V. lamellata was impressive, as was the bright orange clusters of Den. tiongii. Woon Leng nurseries were from Singapore, and mounted a large display of warm growing plants of vandas & dendrobiums as well as some ‘cooler’ plants – Ionopsis utricularioides with its floating pink flowers became an instant favourite of mine as well as varied Phals (mainly harlequin types) and oncidiums. The Singapore Florists association had a good display of tall dendrobiums of various colour. I was fortunate enough to visit the local Botanic gardens prior to the WOC, and this was the first time I had really seen lots of tropical plants in the wild. The gardens mounted a good display to show what they grew best. Their display featured several clones of V. Miss Joachim – the national Flower, and several celebrity hybrids such as the eye catching orange Paravanda Nelson Mandela. The Host Society had a display that featured several overseas plants from growers without their own specific display. This allowed people like Bob Fuchs to show off some more advanced vandaceous hybrids. The display was certainly colourful with a wide range of plants rather than a massed of the same species/clone. They simply had too much variety to fully describe here.

Ecuador had a more simplistic display, more advertising the country as they were bidding for the 2017 WOC. They had brought a number of cool growing plants with them and it was good to see some Restrepias, Masdevallias, and Cyrtochilums, as well as some interesting orange Polystachyas. South Africa is the host for the next WOC in 2014, and had an introductory display. On its own it looked quite good featuring some of their local plants such as Disas, but compared to the Asian displays it was a bit sparse. A South African I know was a bit disappointed with it as it might suggest a lack of plants there – a smaller and more packed display may have been better.

JOGA had a stretched out display of individual items. First was a bowl of bright red Cattleya coccinea on a white background to create their national flag. Huge ‘vases’ of yellow oncidiums, complex paphs., and blue vandas contrasted with smaller ‘sacks’ of dendrobiums and some very good species Paphs with an unnamed flower – possibly bellatulum being almost purple/black. I’ll be interested to see what may develop from this in the future.

Two UK based growers made the arduous trip to Singapore – the EYOF and McBeans. The Foundation had a big round display split into 3 triangles with a blue background. Their main feature for the event was to showcase their modern Calanthes – which were loosely threaded into wooden obelisks themed in their various colours of white, pink, and red. These were surrounded by many of the genuses that they are more famous for with tubs of Odonts (Onc. Moulin de Louis was spectacular, as was Oncidioda St. Aubin), Paphs (multifloral and complex), Phrags (incl. Kovachii hybrids) and Cattleya Porcia. Most notable was Paph. Du Motier ‘Victoria Village’ AM/RHS which was Reserve Grand Champion plant. The obelisks were draped with fishing nets to give a feel of their island location which worked well.

Australia (Perth) was bidding for the WOC22, and put on a good display of mainly cut flowers (lots of dendrobiums, cymbidiums, Cattleyas and paphs) around a billabong and other antipodean themes.

Several educational displays were present showing how pollination occurred – showing how plants such as Coryanthes deceive the pollinators. This was supplemented by purple leaf shaped stickers with interesting information about the Orchid family.

Three days worth of lectures accompanied the exhibition, and these covered wide and varied topics from the fairly simple to the downright complicated. I went to several of these, some out of interest from intriguing titles. I was bemused about using double haploid plants for breeding specific traits – especially colours (haploid is a single DNA as opposed to the normal diploid with 2 strands, so isn’t double haploid just a diploid?). The scientists are working on introducing blue into Phals using a complex methodology, and eventually could lead to a range of colours in all genera… OK, it’s not as simple as that, and was just beyond my range of comprehension, but very interesting just the same.

At the end of the conference the hosts for WOC 22 was announced. 7 nations had made a bid for the honour, and Ecuador was announced as winners.

All in all an excellent conference and show, and the organiser are to be congratulated for their efforts. The venue was perfect, as indeed was Singapore. It will remain in my memory for a long time as will Miami, and I look forward to the next WOC in South Africa, which I’m sure will combine nicely with a safari….

NB. The organisers have just released a short video of the event which can be found at the link below. As well as the exhibition it also features the Gardens in the bay greenhouses –

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oj8Xc_1pgno&feature=player_embedded For those of you that do a bit of ‘silver surfing’ this page on YouTube links to several other videos on the WOC.

19th World Orchid Congress

Despite having registered for the congress a long time ago, I had still been in 2 minds whether to attend – after all, as many friends had pointed out “It’s a long way to go for a flower show!” Following what I had felt to be rather disappointing shows at Dijon, and then the EOC in Padua, it would be likely to have to go to America to see what they can do when not having CITES in the way. Subsequently agreeing to do a talk on the show proved to be the deciding point, and in the end I was glad that I had as some of the major displays were truly awesome. However, when I got down to the local Society level, I am pleased to report that the Americans are no better than many UK Societies, and probably have a less diverse range of genera to offer.


The congress was held in the Miami Sheraton Mart Hotel. I had heard of the Sheraton group before, but not one that was a mart. A mart is usually a major shopping centre judging by what I had previously experienced. This was slightly different. Sheraton is a bit more of an upmarket chain, so the mart proved to be more of boutiques than anything else. What’s more, you actually have to buy a pass to enter (as well as having to pay the hotel for car parking). Registered Conference delegates were able to get in for free, so I had a few minutes walk around, but most shops had signs saying “No food, No drink, No-one under 12, No strollers” so I strolled out again. It wasn’t until I came home that I learnt that the Americans call a pushchair a Stroller – Ah!, and there’s me thinking that they don’t like customers just browsing… The Mart adjoins the Hotel, and the conference and exhibition centre are behind this. The conference lectures were actually held in the hotel ballrooms.

The venue was about 2 miles from the airport, but only about half a mile from the end of the runway so that transfer was quick. About 3,000 people seemed to have registered, so the hotel was quickly filled. A number of other “airport” hotels were available at various rates, so I stayed at the other side of the airport, more or less just under the flight path of the second runway. Thankfully the noise wasn’t too bad, but it seems that the freight companies are still flying aircraft no longer acceptable in Europe.

The congress promised a shuttle bus service between all of the ‘Congress hotels’, and indeed there was one. However it left my hotel at 10.00 am, and returned at 15.30. The lectures started at 09.00, and ended at 17.00, so it all seemed a bit pointless to me. Fortunately a few members of the OSGB were staying at the hotel next door, so we shared a taxi each way at a very reasonable price. As far as I could tell, there were probably around 30 registrants from the UK, not as many as I thought would attend.

Several trips to the AOS HQ, and into the Everglades had been arranged, and I’m told that they were worthwhile going on, although some plant damage still remains at the AOS from last year’s hurricane.

Miami had always promised a cheap registration package, and for early registrants the rate wasn’t too bad. Usually the registration fee covers the production of the proceedings. After checking the details in the registrant’s handbook, it appears that this isn’t the case, and you need to pay extra. The only option is the ‘deluxe’, so that was another $125, and $37 on top for overseas postage.

Hmmm…, overall the arrangements were OK, but left a little to be desired in some areas.

The conference

A reasonable selection of lectures had been arranged over a 4 day period in the 3 usual ‘loose’ streams of Science, Horticulture and Conservation. A few were changed around or cancelled if the lecturer hadn’t arrived (none of the speakers are paid, so funding was an issue for a couple of planned speakers). Sadly the Registrant’s handbook didn’t contain a précis of the talks, so you didn’t always know what to expect.

The conference should have been opened by the chairman Bob Fuchs, but he didn’t make it – apparently the traffic was bad, but there were murmurings of a tad too much Bacardi from the opening party the night before. There were 2 Keynote speakers, with the first being Phil Cribb who spoke on “Orchids in a changing climate”. This covered the major historical steps in orchid growing including classification, hybridisation, meristeming, agar etc., and then onto the future with DNA analysis, and climate change. A very powerful lecture from an excellent speaker. The second keynote speaker was Roger Hammer who spoke on the “native orchids of Florida”. Roger had a very dry sense of humour, and covered almost a history of Florida, including the persecution of the Seminole Indians, the joys of wading through the Everglades avoiding alligators, and discovery of the Ghost Orchid.

The scientific stream often covered DNA techniques, with reference to changes in family groupings as a result. The collapsing of the Odontoglossum/Oncidium Alliance into a single genus was reaffirmed, and an announcement was made that a paper will be written proposing that the Cattleya Alliance will also be reduced to a single genus, and this will do away with approx 80 hybrid genera as well. Most of the other lectures were as one would expect, and I selected those most interesting to me, which were most enjoyable.

The conference ended with a presentation on the 2011 congress in Singapore which promises to be a colourful and spectacular event, and the announcement of the 2014 venue. The 2 losers in 2005 (Taiwan & South Africa) had reapplied, together with Columbia and Peru. South Africa was selected, and the 2014 congress will be held in Pretoria. Sounds like a good excuse to go for another safari to me, and of course there’s no jetlag from the UK.

The exhibition

There are 2 halls in the exhibition centre. The majority of the displays were in the larger west hall, and the sales were mainly in the smaller east hall. Outside the halls there was a real tropical theme with brightly coloured parrots and a group of flamingos amongst hundreds of phalaenopsis.

I should initially make some comments about the judging. Plants had to be entered individually for judging, so even if you had the best plants in the category you wouldn’t win if you didn’t enter, and this resulted in some ‘poor’ plants (in my opinion) being awarded prestigious trophies.

From what I heard, if you didn’t get to the judges breakfast for 08.00 on the Tuesday, then you would be excluded. Phillippe Lecoufle and Vincienne Dumont were apparently a few minutes late, and were in grave danger of expulsion by the bouncers until someone realised that it wouldn’t be politically correct given that they were the main hosts of the previous WOC. Generally I was happy with the judging, but there seemed to be some bemusement that Krull-Smith were only awarded the reserve best exhibit whilst the best exhibit was awarded to the exhibit of the congress chairman – Bob Fuchs. There wouldn’t have been a touch of politics in there would there???? Some plants had gone over after a couple of days, so these must have started to discolour prior to judging – Paph. Mem. Larry Heuer being a good example.

First and second were awarded ribbons in each class, with a small cut glass trophy going to the first placed plant. Larger trophies were awarded to the best of multiple classes – eg. Best hybrid Cattleya. Yellow ribbons were trailed from the trophy to the plant so that it was more easily identifiable (as well as having a big yellow rosette). Whilst this worked well in most cases, it spoiled the view of the (suspended) Best Gongora (Lueddemannia pescatorei) which had a flower spike over 1 metre long with a yellow ribbon just an inch to the side.

The exhibition didn’t open until 10.00, and closed promptly at 18.00. There was no additional opening for registrants only. Apparently this was down to the hours that the security guards could work, or had agreed to work. The exhibits were well spaced out, so taking photos wasn’t a problem – unlike Dijon where the public were 3 or 4 deep everywhere. It was also pleasantly quiet, without any parrot noises.

The exhibition consisted of the floral exhibits and sales on the ground floor, whilst there was a further area upstairs where all manner of goods were on sale including cut/blown glass, jewellery, books, clothing, sundries etc.. They were augmented by paintings, cake decorations, and cut flower displays (all featuring orchids of course).

The exhibits were well laid out, with the main displays in front of you as you entered the hall.

RF Orchids had the first exhibit as chairman, and it was hugely impressive with a central ‘rock’ face supporting an array of white Phalaenopsis on one side, and his trademark high quality Vandas on the other. These ranged from the normal red or blue to yellow, mottled, and even an impressive red & white one called Ascda. Fat Tuesday. Vandas aren’t the easiest plants to display due to their long aerial root system, so these were mainly just hung on the side, with a little bit of Spanish moss around them, and copious amounts of maidenhair ferns (also prominent on most displays). A final part of his display was a small number of other genera, most of which had won awards. I was very impressed with the best Zygopetalum, a clone called Everspring ‘Cranberry’, which was mainly red in colour rather than the normal blue (I definitely want one). A small Bulbophyllum. plumatum appeared to be the only one of the genus in the show. Another plant that caught my eye was Recchara Frances Fox, which is an odd mix of Brassavola, Laelia, Cattleya, and Schomburgkia.

The second of the 2 ‘ego’ displays was that of Krull-Smith, and this has taken months in the planning and preparation in an attempt to win best exhibit. It was truly outstanding, and some commented that it was probably the best display they had ever seen – the last ‘best exhibit’ I can recall was the EYOF at Glasgow in 1993, which had a bigger footprint, but probably not as many plants despite their wall of Miltonias. Frank Smith had built a mainly round stand with a river of Phrag besseae running underneath a central bridge. In the corners were purpose built trees that must have been stored in the correct positions for months as one with hanging pink Phals had them all pointing in the right angles. These weren’t just ‘trees’ with a few plants that you could see through, they were massed with flowers and plants (about 200 on each was my estimate). Once the backdrop was complete, he was able to position his best plants – mainly multifloral Paphs of such a high quality that I couldn’t believe them. I could write pages trying to describe them (but won’t). rothschildianum ‘Jim Krull’ FCC/AOC with 3 spikes each of 4 flowers and a bud that only won best Paph species. It was the equal of ‘Mont Millais’ that won Grand Champion Plant in 1993. St. Swithin ‘Crystelle’ FCC/AOS with 4 spikes, each of 5-6 huge flowers won nothing at all. lowii ‘Grand Masterpiece’ had 2 spikes over a yard long with flowers almost 10” across of such colour and substance that it must have been a tetraploid – again, it won nothing. Sadly when you have a large number of plants of such quality, then they can’t all win something. Despite not winning the best exhibit, Frank did however, win the prestigious best plant in show. He had staged a wall of about 7 huge Paph. Michael Koopowitz, all named clones with multiple spikes of several flowers each, with petals over 2 feet long. Frank had personally wrapped each petal around the pouch prior to transportation, and then unwrapped then individually to ensure they were blemish free. Apparently this had taken him 12 hours to do, but it was worth it as cv. ‘Krull-Smith’ with 4 spikes each with 5 flowers was awarded the honour of Grand Show Champion (as well as 5 other titles). This plant alone was worth going all the way to Miami to see. See front cover

It was the best display of the show by a long, long way, and also the best I have seen anywhere. Fact!

After these 2 exhibits, I’m afraid that the rest of the show was more normal – good in places, and disappointing in others. There were 2 other ‘large’ displays, one from Singapore to whet your appetite on what should be on show there in 3 years. It was very colourful as you would expect, with Dendrobiums and vandaceous plants to the fore. Dend. Doctor Uthai was very good, and a stunning Aranda Bertha Braga stood over 10’ tall. EFG Orchids had the final large display, and this was more ‘large’ than spectacular, with a central volcano that occasionally rumbled, and a good collection of Phaiocalanthe Kryptonite ‘Blood Bath’. I never fail to be amazed how clonal names are used, and given that there seem to be frequent mass murders in colleges in the states, then there must be something wrong even with orchid grower’s psyche.

The reserve Champion plant was on Amazonia Orchids, and was Eria javanica, an unusual plant, with some flowers having gone over. It would appear that this species flowers sequentially, and so it is natural that this would be the case (See back cover). Carmela Orchids had the best specimen plant with a huge Cattleya Hail Storm (See back cover), although I didn’t feel it was as good as the huge Cattleya Virture at Glasgow. Personally I thought that Laelia anceps ‘Sanbar Super Splash’ with 12 spikes about a yard long a better plant.

Only a few Miltonias were present, and were of a poor quality, although they still won trophies. Chris Purver of the EYOF was pulling out what bit of hair he had left – he could have fetched almost anything in Miltonias and hybrid Odonts. from their greenhouse and walked their classes. H & R won the best Oncidiinae with a very large Brassia Rex with 12 spikes, although, again, several flowers had gone over. Hawaiian Orchid Source showed some class Dendrochilum tenelllum and wenzelii. Jamaica OS showed some colourful Tolumnias, One was even orange!

Carter & Holmes showed a good range of produce from their catalog, mainly some quality Cattleyas, and Paphiopedilums. Kawamoto Orchids displayed a nice Phalaenopsis type Dendrobium Enobi Purple which was light Purple fading to white around the edges. Several displays featured Rhyncostylis gigantea of colours varying from white, to spotted to deep red. Soroa Orchids had a Japanese style display, with an impressive Tricocentrum Robert Hatnay featuring an intensely orange lip. The Taiwanese were out in force, with huge Cattleyas of all colours and sizes, and their plants were cheap at around $20 for large plants, and packs of 5 mericlones for $10 (3 packs for $25). Given that these will grow outdoors in Florida, the locals could get into orchid growing in a big way for next to nowt.

Mayaguez OS showed ‘how not to do it’, with a display of mainly cut flowers in white vases with huge white labels – truly dreadful. New Vision orchids won Best Masdevallia and Pleurothallidinea with Masd. Mary Staal with dreadful leaves (as with several of their other plants). I think it just showed that these genera just aren’t suited to Florida culture.

Piping Rock, In-Charm, and Marriott had some quality Paphs on display, with Piping Rock showing some of the new Phrag. kovachii hybrids, and an extremely nice fairrieanum hybrid. In-Charm featured a superb Paph. In-Charm Mystique. Marriott had all complex paphs of good size and quality that it was difficult for the judges to select the best, but in the end they selected Snowdance ‘Winter Wind’, a largish flower of mainly pinky white. They also showed a very nice cross of (Wellesleyanum x fairrieanum) ‘Pink Sorbet’ with superb shape and colour. Orchideen Duerbusch also had a lot of complex paphs in flower, mainly of the Lippewunder type, and featured 2 globes of these flowers. There must have also been a foliage class as I saw the winner (but not any others) – a mottled leaf Paph.

All in all, a very good congress. To my mind the locals didn’t turn out in the numbers that were expected, and that didn’t surprise me. There was nothing outside the hotel or locality saying that it was on, and not being in the ‘Downtown’ area, there isn’t any passing interest. It will be interesting to know whether it broke even. It will also be interesting to see just how well they produce the Proceedings – I’ll just have to sit and keep my legs crossed until July at least…(I had to buy something, and I couldn’t buy any plants!). JG