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Today’s writer/gardener guest is author Claire Gem talking about a flower we’ve not yet seen on the garden blog–Orchids. Welcome, Claire.

My World for an Orchid


Everyone has their favorite flowers, and I wonder sometimes what this might say about a person. Each flower stands for something, right? Even the flower’s color has special meaning. Although some are obvious—the Forget-Me-Not means “remember me forever”—not all are as intuitive. A Gladiolus represents strength of character, while the Snapdragon means presumptuous. A red Rose signifies passionate love, while a yellow one symbolizes friendship. A comprehensive list of these flower meanings can be found Here.

Which brings me to me. I am a collector of orchids. This flower stands for delicate beauty, which I don’t think describes me at all! Perhaps it’s what I strive for, or maybe it’s just that the delicate beauty of the orchid inspires me to care for and protect it.

pictures from Pixabay

I have a room with a south-facing window which makes it a perfect place for the Phalaenopsis variety of orchid to live. This, the most common variety, is hardy and comes in a variety of colors and patterns. But many people, upon buying or receiving an orchid, assume that once the magnificent blossoms wither and fade, the plant is dead. I’d like to clear up this horrible misconception.

The orchid bloom can live from a few hours to six months, depending on the variety and its living conditions. But just because the flower dies, the plant is far from dead! Some types of orchids can live survive for up to 100 years—they just don’t always flaunt their lovely Sunday-best dresses. Fossil evidence supports the theory that orchids have existed in our world for over a hundred million years.

And talk about variety! The size of orchid blooms can range from 2 mm to 2.5 meters. Some display amazing coloration variations, from mimicking a snowy owl, to a monkey face, to a bee. Check out the awesome photos at this website to see them: http://www.flowerweb.com/en/article/190242/15-Amazing-Facts-About-Orchids

So, what draws me to orchids? I wish I could explain it, but I will admit I have become somewhat obsessed. As of right now, my “Circle of Life Room” (which is what my son calls my plant and aquarium room) sports over a dozen orchids in various stages. Some are plain-Jane, in their dormant phase: just thick, glossy green leaves with their fleshy rhizome roots crawling over the edge of their pots. Others are just now sending up spikes with tiny buds, the promise of new blossoms to welcome spring. Others still are in full, glorious bloom, looking for all the world like silk flowers in their perfection.

The garden staff at my local Home Depot calls me the “crazy orchid lady.” Periodically, I will peruse the store’s stock of orchids—mostly Phalaenopsis—but sometimes miniature or more unusual varieties. Do I pick the ones with the most buds? The healthiest looking leaves and spikes? No. I look for the ones who look neglected, forlorn, or ill-used. These may or may not come at a discount, but one thing is for sure: When these orchids leave the garden center at Home Depot to come home with me, they believe they’ve died and gone to heaven.

I admit it. I adopt abused orchids.

I have nursed many of these failing orchids back to life. Some remain blossom-less for months—one didn’t bloom for over a year. But what a rewarding feeling as I watch shriveled, yellowed leaves plump and turn dark green. And it’s a celebration day indeed when I find that, while I slept, a plant has thrust a bud-laden spike up toward the sun.

Easy to care for, most Phalaenopsis orchids thrive on just 3 ice cubes a week—yes, I said ice cubes. This allows for the water to trickle ever so slowly over the rhizomes, giving them time to absorb exactly the right amount of water. I’m such a fanatic I won’t even use tap water to make those ice cubes, since our town water is so bad I can’t drink it. I use filtered spring water, and have two special ice cube trays in my freezer labeled “orchid food.”

Sound crazy? Perhaps. But remember, the orchid doesn’t stand for insanity or mental instability. It stands for delicate beauty. And delicate beauty deserves careful, delicate treatment. Why don’t you think about adopting an orchid and giving this delicate beauty a try?


About the gardener/author:

Claire Gem is an award-winning author of five novels in the genres of contemporary romance and supernatural suspense. A New York native, Claire has lived in five of the United States and held a variety of jobs, from waitress to bridal designer to research technician—but loves being an author best. She and her happily-ever-after hero, her husband of 38 years, now live in central Massachusetts.


Her latest novel is the supernatural suspense, Spirits of the Heart, is set in an Spirits of the Heart (Haunted Voices Book 2) by [Gem, Claire]abandoned mental asylum in the town where she grew up.

An addiction counselor & a security guard struggle to free two, lost spirits trapped inside an abandoned mental asylum.

Laura Horton returns from college to move in with an old friend & start her career. But her homecoming is jarring. Her friend’s moved out, leaving Laura alone with the gorgeous but intimidating ex-boyfriend—in a house that snugs up to an ancient graveyard. Officer Miller Stanford is a man with a shattered past. His alcoholic dad destroyed their family, a weakness Miller is terrified will consume him too. The last thing he needs is a sexy, blonde addiction counselor watching his every move. When he begins to see specters in the dark, he starts questioning his own stability. But Laura sees her too—a pathetic child-spirit searching for her father. Can they unravel the mysteries of Talcott Hall without jeopardizing their love—and lives—in the process?

 Note to readers of sweet romance—Spirits of the Heart has been labeled steamy by some reviewers and may not be suitable for readers looking for sweet romance.

 Book Trailer: http://bit.ly/1QreCAY

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2jt6k1p

You can find out more about Claire and her work on her website: http://www.clairegem.com/