Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Orchid advice from Jim Marlow

Oncidium orchid Sharry Baby courtesy kaiyanwong223 / Flickr

This is the full text of an article I published in the Democrat and Chronicle in February of 2011. Due to some inquiries on facebook I am posting it here. -- Jane

“Light is really the most important factor.”

I recently visited orchid man Jim Marlow at his greenhouse in Scottsville, and this was the very first thing he impressed upon me about orchid care. You can mess around some with temperature and other variables, but if your orchid won’t bloom, chances are it’s not getting the correct light.

The phalenopsis, or moth orchid, is considered the easiest to grow, in part because it is among those that require the least light—about 1500 candles. On a sunny day at around noon, hold your hand about 12 inches above the orchid. If you see a fuzzy shadow, you have around 1500 foot candles. According to Marlow, that would be set back a little way from an east or a south window, or a little farther back from a west window. This position, or even a little less light, would also work for the slipper orchid, paphiopedilum.

Oncidiums can take a little more light, directly in an east or south window or set back from a western exposure. Cattyleas want a little more, and cymbidium a little more than that. Vandas need to be in a greenhouse, under bright artificial lights or outdoors (in summer). (Vandas also like to be watered every day.)

You can tell if your orchids are getting enough light by the leaves. It’s counterintuitive, but dark green leaves are not good. You want more of a lime green color.

Orchids also have varying temperature requirements, though for the most part, they enjoy a ten degree—or more—swing between day and night. Cymbidiums require cool temps, down to 45 or 50 degrees at night, in the fall, in order to set buds, which is perfect for our climate—just leave them outside until it gets any colder than that. Like all houseplants, orchids benefit from summering outside. Just watch that they don’t get too much sun, and keep them off the ground.

Intermediate temperatures are considered 55 or 60 degrees at night, which is about right if you live in an old house like I do. That factor, plus a good window in the dining room, is what prompted me to risk a couple of oncidiums from Marlow’s place. Fingers crossed.

A warmer home, with night temperatures around 65 degrees, is perfect for phalenopsis and certain paphiopedilum.

There is a huge amount of orchid growing information out there, much of it conflicting. Just jump in, says Marlow, and you’ll start to pick up a knack for what they need. The key is to try new things. If a particular plant isn’t thriving the way you’d like, move it. “Growing orchids—growing anything—is an experiment.”

Friday, July 01, 2011

New Managing Editor for UGJ

We’re pleased to announce that Debbie Eckerson, who has long been our calendar editor and subscriptions manager, has taken on the duties of managing editor as of this issue. She is now responsible for maintaining our editorial calendar and working with writers to schedule stories. If you have a story idea you would like to pitch, please email

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Strong Spirit for a Fragile World

Christine Sevilla was an extraordinary person. She was an impassioned environmentalist and a fantastic artist. I loved everything she did, from her gorgeous scanned images of invasive species to her swamp photography to her educational pamphlets, and she never failed to send me samples of everything including her calendars, which I'm so glad I saved. Please see my earlier posts about Christine here and here.

Now Christine's artwork will be offered to the public at a special event benefiting The Christine Sevilla Wetland Preserve (which happens to be in Caledonia, where I live).

From the organizers: On Tuesday, April 5, 2011, at 5:30 pm, Christine Sevilla’s friends and colleagues will present an exhibition, sale and silent auction of Christine Sevilla’s visual art in the Williams Gallery of the First Unitarian Church of Rochester, 220 Winton Road South.

The event, Strong Spirit for a Fragile World: Christine Sevilla's Visual Art; Exhibition, Silent Auction and Sale, will invite guests to view and purchase pieces from a comprehensive collection of Christine Sevilla’s unique visual interpretations of the natural world, including framed photographs of regional ponds, fields, woods, wetlands and flora. All pieces are original, created by the artist in her lifetime. The exhibition, silent auction and sale are one night only.

For more information, visit

Monday, January 31, 2011

The 2011 Philadelphia Flower Show Tour

Here this year's Philly Flower Show tour information from Michael Warren Thomas. 

See the largest annual indoor flower show in the world, 
Longwood Gardens and the artwork of N.C. Wyeth 
March 9-10 (Wed.-Thurs.) and March 12-13 (Sat.-Sun.)

The theme for the 2011 Philadelphia Flower Show is Springtime in Paris. For more details, visit Most people come with me to see the Flower Show, but almost everyone enjoys Longwood Gardens even more. It is so peaceful and relaxing, after the bustle of downtown Philly.

In addition to Longwood Gardens, we will also visit the Brandywine River Museum which highlights the artwork of N.C. Wyeth and his family. The museum is along the banks of the river and beautifully displays the famous original paintings from books like Treasure Island.

First Day - March 9th or 12th
7:30 Depart Rochester from Bristol's Garden Center on Rt. 96 just south of Eastview Mall
11:15 Lunch included near Scranton, PA at The Inn at Nichols Village
3:00 Arrive Philadelphia Flower Show
9:00 Leave show for Hampton Inn in Wilmington, Delaware (same hotel, now a Comfort Inn/Suites
9:45 Arrive at Hotel

Second Day – March 10th or 13th
8:10 Leave for Longwood Gardens (continental breakfast at hotel)
9:00 Arrive Longwood Gardens
12:00 Leave for the Brandywine River Museum, where we will have lunch.
3:00 Leave Brandywine River Museum for dinner in Scranton.
5:30 Arrive at the Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel for an elegant closing dinner
11:00 Return to Rochester (Bristol's Garden Center)

The 2011 price is $395 per person (double) includes everything except dinner at the Flower Show and lunch at Longwood. Add $55 for a single. Full payment will reserve your spot. Call Michael at 585-703-9237 if you have any questions. Please send a check payable to the address below. Are you ready for spring yet?

Michael Warren Thomas
19 Trafalgar Street
Rochester, NY 14619

Saturday, October 30, 2010

New Building for Cornell Plantations

The Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center
I had the honor of being among the first to see the new building at Cornell Plantations the other day, It's gorgeous. It's very open and airy, but anchored with beautiful stone walls that continue from the outside in, so that when you enter the building, you feel like you're still outside. (Not the most eloquent of sentences, but there you are,) There are louvers to keep sun out in summer and in in winter, a green roof, and get this: real, flushing toilets. I'm not even kidding. Though I am going to miss the super-deluxe high-class porta-potties of yore. Cornell has applied for LEED certification and from what I overheard, will likely get at least silver and is hoping for gold.

Plantations staff hopes to have the building open to the public in January, and there will be a grand opening event May 22 (to coincide with the rhododendron collection's peak bloom time). In June we'll be bringing our usual two busloads down for a special tour. We have groups leaving from Rochester (via the RCGC) and from Buffalo/Batavia.

I'm sure I've mentioned this in the past, but I'll say it again. The garden at Plantations HQ is my all-time favorite garden, ever. Ever. So I can't help but include some gratuitous garden shots.

Fell in love with this Mexican bush sage


The old building

The old building will continue to house Plantations staff. The new building has no offices, but it has a gorgeous conference room, a larger room for presentations, and a (thank God—this isn't Disney!) small gift shop downstairs. The facility and/or its parts will be available for rent for company retreats, weddings (I assume), etc.

For more images, click here.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Garden Walk Buffalo Call for Poster Artwork

Submitted by Garden Walk Buffalo

Garden Walk Buffalo is looking for submissions of original artwork for use on the Garden Walk 2011 posters, t-shirts and maps. Artwork must be garden-related and it is preferable that it relate to the type of gardens, flowers, and neighborhoods found on Garden Walk Buffalo in late July.

Submission tips:
Keep it Simple: Artwork needs to reproduce well on a variety of materials. Do not put any type over your design.
Be Different: Try not to use colors or flowers "too similar" to recent artwork used by the GW
For Everyone: Artwork should be considered "wearable and salable" for both men and women

Entries are due Friday, January 28, 2011

It can come in the form of a painting (in any media), a photograph, a drawing, an illustration, or a mixed media work.  If you are working digitally, the original art/photo must be 300dpi at 8x10 or larger. Please submit up to five slides, or a CD containing high quality .jpgs to:

 Garden Walk Buffalo
 PO Box 161
 Buffalo, NY 14207

Please do not send original work---slides on CD only.  Include a resume and a brief letter explaining why the imagery would be particularly appropriate to Garden Walk.

If you need further information, email your questions to or call at 716-228-1855.

Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest garden tour in the U.S., is held the last weekend of July each year. In 2010, the free event will be Saturday and Sunday, July 30 & 31, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. More than 350 residences and businesses throughout the west side of Buffalo open their creative urban gardens for tens of thousands of visitors from around the U.S. and Canada. For more information, visit
Submitted by Garden Walk Buffalo