The King Orchid

October 9, 2013

One could be excused for assuming that introduced orchids belong primarily in the glasshouses of keen collectors. However, many will happily grow outside in the north of New Zealand. One of the most impressive species that can be cultivated in Auckland is Dendrobium speciosum, the King orchid or ‘Rock lily’ from Australia’s eastern coast.

D. speciosum erupts into bloom in late winter and spring, smothering itself in long inflorescences of beautiful cream flowers. There is a degree of variability in the colour of the blooms, with some individuals veering more towards pure white, and others assuming cream or yellow shades.

In a central Auckland suburb, one remarkable specimen has occupied its place in the fork of a large tree for decades. In the last few years, the tree has clearly suffered a misfortune, and subsequently been reduced back to the stump on which the D. speciosum still thankfully resides. Every year, the flowering of this plant acts as a reminder of the wide array of possibilities that exist for gardenmaking within Auckland, with lateral thinking.

In the next six months, we will be planting a garden on an extremely rocky property, where we will utilise several plants of the so-called ‘Rock lily’ in a situation similar to its natural habitat in Australia. As that garden develops, this easily-grown orchid will adorn the rock faces of our clients’ property with its annual spring flourish.