And to the envy of mere mortal women, they manage to achieve the double feat of being beautiful and mysterious. And it’s hard to put your finger on just what makes them so entrancing…
Like a good mystery buff, I first became intrigued with the exotic flowering plant after following the exploits of fictional detective Nero Wolfe.
Author Rex Stout painted an intriguing portrait of the brilliant private detective who, in unraveling the evil men do, got a first-hand look at the uglier side of nature.
Not only did his stately brownstone — from which he solved his cases — provide refuge from this ugliness, it also was where he escaped to his beautiful world of orchids.
He owned thousands and devoted the upper level of his home to them, caring for and nurturing them as though they were his children. He was an obsessive and devoted hobbyist.
Of course, today we can all share in the orchid appreciation, albeit on a more basic level, as they’re available for reasonable prices in your local garden store. The one in my neighborhood had orchids set out in abundance in the days leading up to Mother’s Day.
I love that orchids last for weeks (make sure you pick specimens with several unopened buds on them), much longer than a similarly priced bouquet of flowers. And, if you have a little Nero Wolfe in you, they can be coaxed to re-bloom.
(One friend of mine brags about an amazing orchid that flowered continually in her Chicago apartment for more than a year!)
Searching for rare and more elusive orchids than you’ll find at the nursery has become a part of popular culture’s collective consciousness — beyond Wolfe — over the years.
The 2002 movie “Adaptation,” an off-kilter fictionalization about the effort of writing a screenplay based on Susan Orlean’s book “The Orchid Thief,” earned multiple Oscar nominations and cult status.
And recently I watched an entertaining installment from 2005 of the popular BBC mystery series “Midsomer Murders” (series trailer above) titled “Orchis Fatalis,” in which a community’s passion for a one-of-a-kind orchid led to, you guessed it –murder.
Speaking of murder, the chilly Chicago weather has killed my plan to get some of my seedlings and a few purchased plants transferred to my containers on the balcony today. Typically, Mother’s Day weekend is the point at which it’s warm enough to put the plants outside on the balcony here in Chicago without fear of cold.
But with a high of around 50 degrees forecast for today, my plants will just have to hang out inside for a bit longer. It makes me feel a little less guilty about getting my seeds started so late. Hopefully, the chill will get chased away for good later this week.
In the meantime, at least it’s bright and sunny outside and my lovely orchid is contentedly blooming inside.
Happy Mother’s Day.