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Blooming orchid right on time for summer show competition

JENNA HOUGHTON
Last updated 05:00 18/01/2014
 George Fuller
ANDY JACKSON/FAIRFAX NZ
GREEN THUMB: New Plymouth gardener George Fuller has grown a large sobralia orchid to be displayed at the Taranaki Orchid Society Summer Show this weekend.

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An orchid 20 years in the making has produced an impressive bloom.

New Plymouth gardener George Fuller said his plant, a sobralia mirabilis, flowers only at this time of year, and each flower will last around seven days, which is perfect timing for the Orchid Society's Summer Show being held in New Plymouth this weekend.

The orchid expert thinks his bloom might be in the running for a prize, particularly as one flower is the size of his palm.

"I suspect it will rate quite highly. It's unusual, spectacular, there's lots of flowers, it's a big plant and it's a pretty colour," he said.

The species of orchid is native to Central and South America, but Mr Fuller said with a little TLC the bloom can grow in Taranaki.

"If they grow up in the Andes and Machu Picchu, they can grow here. We have a great climate for a range of things," he said.

"They dance around in the breeze, they're quite happy."

The orchid, a bamboo orchid with canes, leaves and no bulbs, has been growing in his garden for around 20 years, slowly producing bigger flowers.

Mr Fuller grows around 1500 orchid plants on his New Plymouth property.

"I had a neighbour when I was young, a long time ago, who grew orchids.

"I became interested in horticulture and, through him, the orchid flower," he said.

"He became the patron of the New Zealand Orchid Society, and I'm the patron of the Orchid Council of New Zealand."

Mr Fuller, the 2009 Taranaki Daily News Person of the Year, was also the curator of Pukekura Park for 25 years, but now devotes his time to his own garden.

The Taranaki Orchid Society Summer Show is the only orchid exhibition to run at this time of year in New Zealand.

The free event is being staged at Highlands Intermediate, from 10am to 4pm today, and 10am to 1pm tomorrow.

The Gladioli Society's annual show is also on tomorrow at the Normanby Hall from 1pm to 5pm. There is a $2 entry fee and judging will take place at 11am.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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