16 November 2008

Huntleyas and Related Orchids - New Book by Patricia A. Harding

If you have ever wondered what leads to the writing of informative, beautiful, enviable books such as Huntleyas and Related Orchids by Patricia Harding, her preface is an ideal place to begin.
Harding writes that when she and Carl Withner completed their work on The Debatable Epidendrums, she had time on her hands and wanted to work on a similar project.

Harding is an orchid collector and grower with degrees in botany and medicine. She wanted a reference for the identification of orchid species, so she wrote one.

A fellow orchid enthusiast, Manfred Speckmaier offered his collection of difficult-to-come-by photographs. Then, modern plant DNA testing allowed Mark Whitten to publish the science needed for Harding to clarify the divisions.

Retiring provided the time and energy for Harding to continue to pursue her 30-year orchid hobby into writing books.

This is an example of how, given enough time and the right circumstances, creative individuals allow their life's work to flow through them sparked by intelligence and intuition.

It's what Carl Jung called Synchronicity or Serendipity: the happy accidents (collisions?) of thought, connection, and people that come together and lead us in Life. (You know, luck, uncanny confluence of events, meaningful coincidences, etc.)

CONTENTS Harding describes the shared traits of Huntleya Orchids. They lack a pseudobulb, or at least not a prominent one, because they grow in wet, humid, misty environments and do not need the storage capacity provided by a pseudobulb.

They have succulent roots instead and their roots grow on tree trunks or lower branches out of the wind.

The single Huntleya flowers range in colors of red-purple, brilliant red, blue lips, yellows, green, white and white-yellow. The flower shapes range from spread and flat to bell-like tubular.

Harding says that growing Huntleya orchids can become habit forming - the plants are small or moderate sized and therefore easy to accommodate.

MORE ABOUT ORCHIDS There are dozens of Internet sites dedicated to orchids for your perusing pleasure. One is www.orchidspecies.com/ and another is The American Orchid Society at www.aos.org - both sites have lots of other links to click.

THE BOOK IS beautifully illustrated with hundreds of photographs. The history of discovery and collection, the etymology, descriptive keys to the species, description, range and horticultural information are all included in one volume - a real treat for collectors.

Huntleyas and Related Orchids by Patricia A. Harding, Timber Press, www.timberpress.com, hardcover, 260-pages, about 7.5 by 10-inches, 150 photographs and 5-line drawings, ISBN
ISBN-13:9780881928846, $40 from the publisher, $27 on Amazon.

Harding wanted to write a definitive book about Huntleya Orchids and she has accomplished her goal beautifully.

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