Besides this, was there another influence (person or fact)?
At the beginning my old friends and people I knew helped me and were patient to answer my endless questions about orchids. In Rio, Dr. Etienne Bèraut's garden taught me a lot about the vegetative appearance of the botanical orchids because he has a great collection of beautiful and rare orchids growing on the trees. This garden is 80 years old! In São Paulo, I received a lot of help from my friend Samuel de Mello and also Gerson Calore. Finally I became associated to OrquidaRio, where I did many friends who gave many good tips. The list of discussion in the internet competed what was missing. Concerning the scientific part, my masters were Rolf Grantsau, ornithologist and naturalist and Paulo Rotter. Serious people and scientists, they learnt me that science is not an adventure and to be a scientist in the field is not to be a Indiana Jones.
It is very important when we compile data about orchids, to think that one day, someone else will enjoy, besides you.
How long have you been cultivating orchids?
How many plants do you have?
About 900 plants, almost matured.
How long do you spend taking care of your orchids daily?
It depends. I go to the nursery once a week because it is placed in a far-way suburb, Guaratiba. Some times, I go more than once. All plants which are in bud I bring with me to take photos and those which need to be to repotted. In this way, I can take care of them during a break time, launch time, in the afternoon and during the week-ends when I don't go the nursery.
Before going to a nursery, I visit the site and try to know which are the best plants in their collection, so I try to buy them, a plant or a division, even though it takes time. I don't buy a inferior orchid if I know there is a better one. I prefer waiting for a best occasion. For instance, visiting a nursery, in 2005, I saw a spectacular Cattleya trianaei amesiana. I have a beautiful one but it is not so good, so I would like to have a better one. The plant I like was too small to take a division and it was not to sell. After that many people offered me good Cattleya trianaei amesiana, but not so good as that I saw but I could not buy. Even though it takes years, I will wait for a division of that plant which I consider as the best Cattleya trianaei amesiana. The same thing happens with hybrids. I don't want to buy a self or a cross of a meristem.
It is very important to choose the nurseries because only those which are serious have quality plants or are concerned about the correct identification. Classic orchids or old clones with a history interest me. I have always been interested in the story of those old orchids because researching them, I discovered the story of the orchidophilia.
Another important thing is always to buy small quantities. Good plants are expensive plants and no one can withstand this.
You have a good plant, Slc Ayrton Senna, bright red and good shape. Have you bought it as a seedling or it was already matured? If seedling, how many have you bought?
Visiting the walkeriana exhibition at Wenzel, in June 2004, I saw a wonderful spectacle with, at least, 30 selected Slc Ayrton Senna, in different colors. César Wenzel will meristem the best and they will receive the clone name of a trace where Ayrton Senna run. He was selling the seedlings of this cross (Golden Acclaim x California Apricot) which hadn't bloomed and some was in bloom but they were not so good as those in the podium. Of course, I became interested for those selected but unfortunately they were not to sell. To get the best is easy if you wait years to see them blooming and then you buy the meristems but I would like to start enjoying them immediately. I stayed one day more and I went to Wenzel's nursery, this time without the mess of a show and tactfully I insisted. I found a wonderful yellow with the clone name of ‘Hockenhein’ which had a part of the rhizome getting outside the pot. A division was possible. Further more, I saw this beautiful red (without a clone name) that could have a division and, luckily, I got it. To the red I gave the obvious name of ‘Red’.
My greenhouse is unfortunately located in a quite hot place. There I cultivate some ornamental plants to my landscape work and it is located next to the woods so the nights are fresh and there is an environmental humidity coming from the next mountain. The place is well ventilated, with wind circulating all the time. All this help a lot but is far way from being the suitable place as if it was situated in a mountainous region where the mist reaching the trees and the rock, dropping the temperature at night and watering with the dew watering every thing. That will be the ideal place to a nursery.
In my nursery, orchids such as Sophronitis, Lycaste, some Paphiopedilum and other plants coming from cold regions do not thrive well. However the hybrids grow without problem, since I find an adequate place in the nursery.
What could you tell us about fertilizer and watering?
There is not a regular frequency for the watering, it depends on the climatic conditions of the moment. The housekeeper has already learnt the moment to water again however, I am, of course, always supervise when I am there. I take the baskets, verify the temperature outside them touching with my hand, I feel the weight, put my finger in the substrate, and so on. It is quick and automatic, almost a cacoethes. The fertilization is done once a week, in general, I apply Peters, NPK 20-20-20. I also apply 30-10-10, mainly with the seedlings and 10-30-20 I start just before the begging of springtime when I have more blooming plants. Even though, due to the fact that I don't have a specialized culture and the plants are mixed, many orchids bloom without receiving a phosphate fertilizer before the blooming season. It hope I can build a bigger greenhouse so it will be possible to separate the plants according to their basic needs.
I don't grow orchids for longtime so there is not too much to tell but I met some senior growers who are themselves very interesting. I met Sebastião Nagase, a well known creator of hybrids of Dendrobium nobile and Miltoniopsis São Paulo. He is said to be the best in those plants. He told about the travels he did to Mato Grosso and Tocantins to see Cattleya nobilior. He told that people use to tie them root naked in string to decorate the back yard. He also mentioned that the plants survive and bloom. Then I asked him about the philosophy which guides him in the hybridizing and which were the basic directives which orientates him. He answered he took two parallels ways: obvious hybridizing, done through well known ways maintaining his nursery, the ordinary production. On the other hand, he should innovate, create, he did "high risk hybridizing", as he said. From the most improbable and absurd crosses, we can have the true beauties and unexpected novelties. Two complete different flowers, believed as totally incompatible, can generate something incredible beautiful. This kind of cross is expense, the investment is high and the result has a very low output. Even though, with the meristem, this "mad cross" calls attention. He produces until 5.000 seedlings for each cross but on the average is 2.000. He should wait for the blooming and, if he is luck, there will be a plant with fantastic flowers. Many times the appearance of the plants is so bad that he should discard. One among 5.000 is really beautiful, so perfect and so different that it goes to Japan to be meristem ed, be produced by thousands and sell all around the world. I think that Dendrobium Stardust is a good example of this statement although it is not his creation. This new flower, this new discovery represents a new way to be explored in hybridizing. Without this kind of hybridizing, he gets into sameness and will be erased by bigger competitors.
One said that orchidophilia a soft manifestation of madness. Have you done any "orchidophilic" insanity?
Well, as I blundered too frequently into the suspended open-work baskets, I decided to wear my motorcycle crash-helmet
Now, when I have to pass through the corridor looking for a lost orchid, I wear it. I wander what people outside think when they see me wearing it. However I recognize that I do a true orchidophilic insanity when every end of the month, I can't equilibrate my accounts due to the expenses I have done buying orchids. Every month I swear I will not buy any thing but once again, I finish for buying something.This is to me a kind of madness, an addict, without talking about the cost of the upkeep of the greenhouse. The beautiful flowers recompense all troubles, the postponed car repair or the travel I couldn't do. In fact, more and more, I don't want to travel because I don't want to lose the blooming of none of my orchids.
Photos: Carlos Keller
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