RHS Orchid show. 12.04.13

The Royal Horticultural Society's Orchid Show is a delightful opportunity to enjoy the best plants and shelter from the worst weather. I always enjoy the short walk from the tube station to the show. This part of Westminster has always set the tone for the nations attitudes and politics. In recent years it has become the hub of the designer sandwich industry. Every shop window is piled high with ethnic bread products sliced neatly through the middle and filled with indistinguishable materials in mayonaise. It's a democratic masterpiece.

The show hall fills with light from the windows and in the warmth it is briefly possible to forget the falling rain. The hall is continuing its steady transformation for multiple users following the recent lease agreement. The latest addition is a black rubber floor covering unrolled for this event.

Keeping in the dark theme, Cymbidium 'Cali Night' looked quite wonderful on the stand of Burnham Nurseries.

Dendrobium thyrsiflorum is a difficult plant to grow well and this specimen was the most magnificent I have seen for many years. Grown by Rollke Orchideenzucht from Germany. A number of people were impressed by its beauty and bought small plants which I and sure will prosper for them.

Another plant that I found most beguiling was Pleione formosana 'Variegata', grown by Akerne Orchids from Belgium. I love the cheerful golden stripes that shine on the leaves and provide a point of interest when the flowers have faded. Gloria does not. There are days when she abhors anything cheerful which is the reason for our tube journey this morning. I simply didn't have the strength to sit in a vehicle with Gloria and a taxi driver.

I have a fascination for Masdevallia. They carry beauty to the outer reaches of elegance and then pull back just before they slip over the edge into the ludicrous. Mostly. This one took that final step too far and I cannot resist including it here. When I was a little younger I occasionally took short breaks at a resort that specialised in assisting ladies who wished to occupy smaller dress sizes. I came to know a rather jolly lady who had accepted that her volume advanced with her years but who felt that an occasional well intentioned break from the outside world suited everyone. The management were a little concerned that their efforts to reduce her weight met with no perceptible change and offered her an aspirational session. She removed all her clothes and a doctor used a red marker pen to draw an outline on her fulsome figure of the body she could become. She found it profoundly amusing but I have not seen her since. I imagine she felt the process had come to a conclusion.

I seem to have been distracted from the orchids for a moment. Psychopsis papilio 'Alba' has these wonderful flowers that tremble on the end of thin stems. The typical form has flowers splashed with scarlet and yellow, this form is paler but could not really be called white.

If you have any comments you can e-mail us: