Fans, & Followers:
you might have guessed, it is virtually impossible to source unique and
hard-to-find varietals from global suppliers when those very same global
suppliers have gone positively mental over World Cup Football (FIFA 2010, if
you’re a football purist). One day, my
growers are all pistils and stamens and waxy sepals; the next, they’re sporting
short-pants-with-under-tanned-legs and behaving like drunk hooligans. What makes perfectly respectable middle-aged
would-be botanists think they’re as spry as 17-year-olds, I’ll never
understand. Thankfully, my charms
prevailed and I was able to coax, but for a few seconds, a few of my favorite
growers to ship me parcels of their very best.
So, in this week’s Exotic bundle, you’ll find cymbidium orchids from the Kingdom of Bhutan, hydrangea from Holland, a sexy calla varietal from Ecuador, hot pink
cytherea peonies from China, and Prince’s Feather amaranthus from the country
where it all began (football, I mean) England.
Arjen Wijnkoopman, my man in Holland, sent me the hydrangeas in your
bundle. You’ll notice that they’re both
much larger and much hardier than your typical garden-variety hydrangea. For one, they’re a vibrant pink. For two, they tend to be very resilient and
may very well dry looking as good as they did when fresh-cut.
Zhi Zhang, my man in Hong Kong, worked every connection he had to secure the
hot pink peonies in your bundle from the mainland. Somehow, between his broken English and my
broken Cantonese, he was able to confirm a parcel that is both very hot and
Alberto Guzman – not my usual man in Quito (my usual man, won’t even pick up
the phone when football is on!) – did a very nice job of stepping in. In his lazy Spanish, he promised me a parcel
of “muy atractivo” calla lilies. These
are the mini variety and they’ve smooth pink-mauve-ish trumpets.
in a bit of desperation when it came to Queen and Country, I had to have my
nephew Gerald hunt for the Prince’s Feather amaranthus that I’ve included in
your bundle. You’ll recognize these
stems as the delicate thin stalks topped with tiny pink florets in your bundle
– they’re simple but sometimes simple is best.
(And luckily, the surname “Bloom” still means something amongst the
growers in Derbyshire.)
I’ve included a very special batch of cymbidium orchids from Bhutan. True, these orchids look like any other
cymbidium orchids that you might be able to get your hands on, but if you
believe that it is the journey that counts most, you’ll appreciate this batch
as much as I do. Years ago, while on
trek in Nepal with my university flat-mates, we met a fantastically fit chap in
our tour group who hailed from the Kingdom of Bhutan. Unquestionably more sophisticated than the
rest of us, he was the sort of chap that you felt compelled to follow. Of course, it helped that he had an
enormously fun countenance and what seemed like a perpetual smile plastered on
his face. In any case, at the end of our
trek, he invited us to return with him to visit Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital, which
at the time was closed off to any outside visitors. It was only after we found ourselves mid-air
over the Indian state of Sikkim (which separates Nepal from Bhutan) did Lyonpo
Dorji Wangdi reveal that his father was the Minister of Agriculture and that
only with his blessing were we being granted special exemption visas. Needless to say, we spent four fantastic days
in what was truly then, and I hope still is, Shangri-La on earth. I could go on and on about the wonders we saw
in those four days but I’ve special regard for one particular memory Lyonpo
arranged for us. On our second day in
Thimphu, knowing full-well that we were a bunch of botany students, he arranged
for us to be served a local delicacy called “olatshe” – delicious as the spicy
curry was, I simply couldn’t place the flavors and Lyonpo steadfastly refused
to unveil the ingredients. It was only
after we’d bid him adieu and boarded our plane for Kathmandu that he smiled his
lopsided grin at us through the military transport’s open door and said in his
perfectly Oxford-accented English: “You
want to know what was in that curry?
Orchids! Cymbidium orchids! Ha!”
Cheeky fellow! Speaking from
experience, I’ve never eaten a tastier flower.
it doesn’t get more exotic than that, does it?!
If you’ve received bundles before, do as you’ve done. If, however, this is your first week, drain
your bundle over a sink, free your bundle of its cellophane, and then set it in
the included vase half-full of room temperature water.
Around The World,