Hello everyone! It has been a very long time since you heard from me last, and I am so happy to see that you are still here, faithfully visiting and also writing me. Thank you for your patience and support!
It became a much, much longer hiatus than I had first anticipated due to a series of events in my life. You know how it usually goes, one thing triggering the next, like dominoes. I am not going to dwell on it too much, and safe to say that it could have been worse, yet it leveled me to the floor for a while and I am only just now starting to get back on my feet again. Summan av kardemumman, as we say in Sweden, or the the sum of it all, is that I am no longer married, I am on long term sick leave from job burnout, and above all pondering all the big questions, such as: what is the meaning of life and how do I fit in it? Yeah I know, the ten million dollar question. Still, there you have it, that is where I find myself right now.
So where do I go from here? When looking for a lifeline, the orchids kept calling my name. The blog did too at times and I almost made it back last summer, but alas here we are. This time I am really back though, and I am looking forward to sharing my orchid life with you all once again. I admit, the passion and the fervor of which I usually feel isn’t quite there… yet… but hell, I’m not feeling much of anything for anything right now in general, feeling numb is par for the course. But this will change, I am told, as I recover from the burnout.
I feel an orchid ember glowing, and it is growing stronger every day and I really want to nurture it back. I know I can! When I have managed to muster enough energy to actually spend time with the orchids over the past two years while I have been silent, I have felt that it made me feel better! But the threshold of actually getting there has been so very high for so very long. Hell just getting out of bed in the morning, or a simple task like brushing teeth have felt near insurmountable at times. I am much better now, although I still have bad days. But I have somehow managed to keep the orchids alive through it all. On life support mind you, minimum effort, but still. And they give back. When I work with the orchids I can feel something stirring. Something good. Orchids are a living things, and it is very rewarding to watch living things grow. Nature heals, they say. I think it is true, at least for me.
Leading up to the big crash, newly becoming single again after some odd 20 years, I moved to a much smaller apartment which meant new growing conditions, especially for the pleurothallids since the huge vivarium would not fit and had to be left behind. While getting the new apartment ready to move in, the orchids had to stay out in the greenhouse (more on that build later) unseasonably long last fall. The winter was mild and it was working out ok at first. But then, a couple of early frost nights wiped out about half of the collection in one fell swoop. Electricity failed in the greenhouse overnight knocking out the space heaters and leaving the temperatures in there a few degrees below freezing. A devastating blow.
Interestingly enough, the plants fairing the worst in the extreme cold was the cool growing pleurothallids. I experienced heavy Masdevallia casualties and 100 % Dracula loss while amongst other genera it was a little more hit or miss. In the intermediate/warm section of the greenhouse, all Phalaenopis, Angraecoids and Vanda were dead as doornails or faded away over the next few days, at no great surprise. But on a positive note, incredibly nearly all Neofinetia and about 75 % of the Paphiopedilum survived. I was puzzled about this for a long time but have settled on the theory that the reason I lost so many cool growers was because they were being kept so very, very wet making them more susceptible to freeze in the icy cold. The rest of the surviving orchids were due to be watered soon so they were much drier at the time of the freeze.
After that, things mostly went on autopilot. I really grieved for the loss of many cherished plants and it took a while before I felt ready to move on. But I finally did! Much thanks to the help of a very good friend who divided many of his plants to help rebuild my pleurothallid collection. A healthy order from Ecuagenera, my birthday present to myself this year, helped too. Needing to downsize a bit anyway I now focus mainly on miniatures for the vivarium. I have also replaced many of the Paphiopedilum and Phragmipedium lost, and I have even expanded with a few Cypripedium plants this year, as you can see in the photos. I grow them outdoors in pots but plan to overwinter them indoors someplace cool. More on them in the spring if they survive the winter. Many of the frostbitten survivors have slowly begun to recover from the shock now producing lots of healthy new roots and leaves which is wonderful to see. Some are even blooming again, that being mainly Neofinetia and Lepanthes, resilient little buggers I tell you! A song for the soul!
As the result of this event my collection is now a little more, shall we say defined. There is less impulse purchases and stray infatuations taking up valuable space. I have a more clear focus on what I really like to grow, that being pleuros, neos and assorted slippers. I am working on looking at the bright side of things.
Now you also know why I kind of dropped off the map for a while… to all my friends out there, I am sorry about that!
So to the matter of the ten million dollar question… All this turmoil over the past few years has made me do a lot of soul searching. Having your entire body pull on the breaks and declare that it is time to stop and smell the roses also makes you reevaluate your priorities in life. And as my energy slowly returns, I definitely feel ready for some big changes!
One step on this journey of finding myself again is an orchid pilgrimage to Costa Rica! Yes you heard me, and I can hardly believe it myself, but at the end of this year, over the course of a few amazing weeks I will hike the rainforests of the central highlands looking for orchids. Living in the moment, soaking in the mountain air and finally experiencing many of these amazing orchids in situ! A good friend of mine will be leading a small group and other friends I have only known online until now will be our local guides. I am really looking forward to meeting them and I am literally counting the days, it is going to be an amazing adventure for sure! I will of course share my preparations and travel diary here with you all, so stay tuned!
That is all for now. But I will start sharing the day to day with the orchids again as promised. I will work on updating all the pages and I will also have to tell you all about my amazing greenhouse and the new growing arrangements in the city. More on this at a later time.