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Have a bloomin’ good time at park’s annual Orchid Show

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Compass

10 February, 2012

The Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park in partnership with the Cayman Islands Orchid Society will have its annual Orchid Show and Sale on Saturday, 11 February, and Sunday, 12 February, from 9am till 4pm at the Botanic Park.

John Lawrus tells Weekender that there will be orchid displays inside the visitors centre, hundreds of orchids available for sale outside under the white tent as well as informative talks and demonstrations on the culture and care of orchids.

“This year we will be having an American Orchid Society accredited judge here to judge the orchids in the display. Prize ribbons and Best in Show will be awarded to the orchids in the display.”

That judge is Claude W. Hamilton whose youngest son Andrew and family actually live in Grand Cayman.

“I was born in Montego Bay and educated at Cornwall College and The Jamaica School of Agriculture,” says Claude,

“I obtained a Diploma in Agriculture at age 19. I became interested in orchids when I was about 11 and was at that time inspired by a collection of mostly Cattleya orchid hybrids that were housed in an orchid house on the grounds of the St. James Parish Library in Montego Bay. Subsequent to this I started growing orchids collected from the wild, on trees near my our family home at Cambridge, St James in Jamaica.

“I became a member of the Jamaica Orchid Society and the American Orchid Society in 1976. Then it was quite difficult to import orchids as it was illegal to own foreign currency in Jamaica. As a consequence, I became very interested in collecting and growing Jamaican orchid species, as these were available from the wild, at no cost and required no import permits, or customs clearance.”

Best-known

He started growing his own orchids from seed in 1984 and is now recognised as one of the best-known producers of orchid species in the world.

“My orchid hybrids, though exhibited on a very limited scale (usually only on one day each year at the Jamaica Orchid Society Show) have received over 152 awards to date, from the American Orchid Society. My hybrids were featured in a 10-page article in the American Orchid Society magazine ‘Orchids’ in 2006.

“My eldest son Phillip and I were the first persons from the English speaking Caribbean to become AOS judges. Each year I am invited to judge at several overseas shows each year and I have lectured and judged orchids in over 32 countries. These include events in the Caribbean, South and Central America, the USA, Asia, Africa and Australia. In March of this year I was one of nine American Orchid Society judges invited to judge at the Taiwan International Orchid Show in Tainan, Taiwan,” Claude explains.

An impeccable background – this chap certainly knows what he’s talking about. Here’s John Lawrus again:

“Please come out and help this important fundraiser for the Botanic Park and Orchid Society. Funds from this sale will help continue the development of the Orchid Boardwalk at the Botanic Park.

“The Orchid Boardwalk is slowing coming along. We have planted lots of young juvenile orchids and it will be a few years before the full impact of the orchid planting is fully appreciated. We are seeing sporadic blooming of some of the newly planted orchids and currently the local banana orchids and their close relatives are starting to show some flower spikes emerging.”

Traditionally, the Orchid Show and Sale is one of the busiest days at the park as residents rush to purchase orchid plants which are not always available in local nurseries, so get there early!

Entry fee is just the normal admission price of CI$8 with children 12 and younger free of charge, so visitors get to see the Botanic Park and enjoy the activities of the show for one price.

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