Being an orchid grower is a curious thing.
As the saying goes:
“You can get off alcohol, drugs, women, food, and cars but once you’re hooked on orchids, you’re finished. You never get off orchids…never.” Joe Kunish
So I’ve had this Phragmipedium Betheva orchid in my healing room for several years now.
I got it at the annual orchid sale at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, an event I look forward to every year.
This year, for example, I was first in the door and managed to nail a healthy Paphiopedilum Haynaldianum without knocking over any other little old lady orchid fanatics because they had not yet thronged the counters.
When I got my Phragmipedium Betheva pearcei v. Tip tap X caudatum v. warscewiczii about three years ago, I kept the tag showing I paid $35 for it, which I would have done without blinking an eye, knowing that you get the absolute best orchids from the Atlanta Botanical Garden and if you can just hang in there with them your enthusiasm will eventually pay off.
Typically I intersperse rare, endangered and exotic orchids amongst the typical phalaeonopsis orchids you can buy for $12 to $20 at the grocery stores.
Trader Joes in Atlanta happens to be one of my favorite reliable spots for moth orchids that will bring a smile to your face until they rot in their poorly planted pots.
The grocery store orchids provide a lot of color while I patiently nurture the exotic rare ones.
Most of my exotic orchids will bloom once a year, some will bloom every one and a half years and then there’s my Phragmipedium Betheva.
He has been a special case.
Although I kept watering him, he and I kept staring at one another, not quite sure what to make of the situation.
When he didn’t bloom for a few years I considered repotting but then again the way he had been wedged in originally made that impossible.
So I just watered, fertilized and waited.
I admit I’m human and I do give up at times.
If I see an orchid covered with mealy bugs – the orchid equivalent of a burning building – I have no choice but to dump the once beautiful thing in my compost pile.
I’ve learned from professional orchid growers to fertilize my beauties with a combination of 20-10-20 orchid food, such as this one, and one drop of Superthrive Vitamin Solution mixed in a gallon jug of water.
Many times I considered giving up on my Phragmipedium Betheva as he was just sitting there on the shelf in my healing room looking pitiful but for whatever reason I persisted.
I find this extremely interesting.
Here we are in the worst global pandemic of my lifetime.
Every day there are new restrictions as the city of Atlanta and entire countries all over the world go into lockdown to try to prevent transmission of coronavirus.
First you can’t meet in groups of 10 or more, now you’re better off not even going to the grocery store if you can find a way to order food online.
I managed to figure out how to teach yoga and qi gong via zoom.us video conference to try to keep everyone’s spirits up.
About every other text I get from a friend says, “Have you gone stir crazy yet?”
I ended up spending my 61st birthday by myself because a friend of a friend of a friend I was supposed to have dinner with (someone I had never met) had just gotten diagnosed with coronavirus.
I admit feeling grumpy, frustrated and teary.
But then again I would go down to my healing room and watch my orchids.
All of a sudden Phragmipedium Betheva – the orchid you could have voted “Most Likely to End Up in the Compost Pile” – produced a little orangey-red bud.
And then it opened on my birthday – a present to me from the orchid world!
Instead of Phragmidium Betheva, I’ve decided I’m going to call this one my “Don’t Give Up” Orchid, a species we could all use a little more of these days!
My very generous boyfriend has been giving me extra cash to pay my handyman.
“ I don’t know what I would do without you and (another client) and (my amazingly generous boyfriend) and (another friend) at this critical time right now,” my handyman texted me this morning.
We have made sure his rent his paid and that he has food.
How can we help each other get through this without losing our lives or our sanity?
A very generous friend spent one hour of her free time sewing a cloth face mask for me, which I vowed was the best birthday present I had ever received.
I washed it twice – once by hand and once in the washing machine – and was elated to have found a new form of protection when my very helpful friends on Facebook, including a registered nurse, explained that cloth face masks actually increase your risk of infection.
The face mask gave me a glimmer of hope but I have to acknowledge that nothing is safer at this time than simply staying home with my orchids.
In flower essence therapy there’s a principle called “the doctrine of signatures.”
The natural world gives us herbs, plants and vegetables meant to treat a specific part of the body that will resemble what they are supposed to treat.
Walnuts, for example, look like your brain and they improve your cognitive function.
Carrots improve your eyesight and the ring of a carrot looks like your eye.
Tomatoes are good for your heart and look like your physical heart.
Kidney beans look like your kidneys and are good for your kidneys.
In flower essence therapy you can either take a vibrational remedy made from the blooms or you could gaze on the flower itself or a photograph of the plant in all its glory.
I do believe that this Phragmipedium Betheva, with its five-pointed star, is giving us a message of encouragement.
“Don’t Give Up, Ever!” he is saying to me.
Just look at him!
He didn’t end up in the compost pile.
After all, if he could bloom after three years of quiescence, then perhaps we can survive this period of forced seclusion and come out blooming on the other side.
What is healing? Healing happens when you never give up.
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Resources to Cope with the Coronavirus Pandemic