Jorge Verboonen
Raimundo Mesquita

In the traditional beliefs of OrquidaRio, at least by the time I became an associated, there was a legend about the difficult to deal with the Verboonen clan, owners of Orquidário Binot. It was almost mentionned and referred as a secret society where only the elected and chosen people have access and shelter...
This just pricked up my curiosity of beginner guided by the "nose", having as a single rule of orientation to my choices and preferences, in orchids, to follow and to observe the only norm which, still today, I consider valid: the beauty.
One day I decided to visit the nursery which was a paradox to me: a trade center and, at the same time, half-hermetic, at the mercy of the temperaments of the owners. I parked my car and got in attracted by the beauty and the quantity of flowering plants. First, I passed through the sales room, plenty of flowering plants. There was nobody. I kept on entering where the doors were open - and all of them were! For a secret society, it was too much opened ...
I got into a big room, some kind of shed where there was a great agitation, many people occupied to pack plants to customers or to delivery or to send for shows or sale shops, what do I know exactly? There was a large number of giants flowers, the preferred by this time: Pastoral, Turandot, Culminant...
I felt my self invisible since I circulated around and nobody questioned about what I wanted or what was I doing in a restrict area.
In the mess of so many plants, I came across to a beautiful clump, intensively flowered of Cattleya bowringeana. A little bit embarrassed, I asked to a tall young man (who, later on, I found out that his name was Maurício...) who seemed to command the labors, if the plants were set apart to somebody and, if it was not, if they could sell me it.
Answer: - There is no reserved plant here, or it is sold or it is to sell and as it is not sold ...
I bought, paid and asked to put it aside in a corner until I finished my turn through the nurseries (then I felt my self authorized...).
Photo: Raimundo Mesquita In a small nursery, I came across to a great number of Masdevallias, which I did not know and stayed a long time deeply contemplating one that specially attracted me.
Suddenly a gentle and peaceful voice coming from behind me, asked me:
- Do you like Draculas? This one is lotax, one of the few, perhaps the only one that occurs in Brazil.
I answered affirmatively that I loved and asked information about the cultivation and I concluded that I had the condition to cultivation it in my place in Serra dos Órgãos. I asked how what it would cost and I heard the answer that it would cost nothing, it was a gift of the house because it was my first visit (deep in mind, I thought he was thinking that I would kill the little plant...).
I thanked, introduced my self and I heard his name back: Jorge Verboonen.
Then, materialized to me, one of the great names of the Brazilian orchidophilia on that time, at side of Rolf Altenburg, Guido Pabst and a few others, who, I found out later, were the international reference of the Brazilian orchidophilia. When you arrive in Europe, mainly if they know that you are Brazilian and orchidist, or they mention the two others or they talk about Jorge Verboonen, a great specialist in orchids and discover of many species. I notice that this presence is more recurring and more reserved just like Jorge used to be.
See, I used the verb of the last sentence in the past tense, because we have just lost the last of the great names of a privileged generation of cultivators, and over of all, of great experts at orchids and with him, an entirely age has gone...
However, I want to say to Jorge that still today I have a good number of clumps from that Dracula lotax