Orchids ready to rule at annual Manawatu Orchid Society spring show
Allan Rae's hobby has taken over the backyard. And the neighbouring back yard.
The Palmerston North orchid breeder has more than 2000 of the exotic flowers, mostly cymbidiums, in three orchid houses across the back of two suburban properties.
He's now in preparation for the Palmerston North Manawatu Orchid Society spring orchid show in the Community Leisure Centre, which starts this Saturday, September 30.
"It's their beauty, their colour, their shape, and for some its the perfume," Rae said.
READ MORE: Why do flowers smell?
"They can grow anywhere from south of the Arctic circle. They grow in all climes, at all elevations."
"It's a hobby gone mad," his wife Yvonne Rae said.
"I started in the 70s, but I found when I retired I had more time to work on them."
Orchids require quite a bit of work, as well as plenty of patience. Rae said there was a long wait to see what colour of flower a newly bred plant might produce.
"You never know what you might get. From fertilisation to seed pod, and then sending the seed off to a lab... you may not see a flower for six or seven years."
The retired Massey University agri-economics professor had a fascination with trying to breed an elusive orange cymbidium. Producing a black, blue or orange bloom is something of a holy grail for orchid breeders.
Though what exactly constitutes "orange" is up for debate. Rae's orchid houses contain a proliferation of flowers from the yellow, brown, gold and russet segment of the spectrum, some of which could be described as being "orangey".
Rae had just returned from the Taranaki orchid show with four firsts and a second for his blooms, and was named reserve champion.
One of the winning orchids he bred himself.
"That's pretty special," Rae said.
He said the Palmerston North show would have all types of orchids exhibited by local club members, as well as those from out of town.
"[There will be] plants for sale, pots, potting mix, fertiliser and other useful gardening gadgets," he said.
Admission to the weekend show is free.