Dick Cooper encourages people to grow orchids and enjoy a rewarding pastime.
Dick Cooper encourages people to grow orchids and enjoy a rewarding pastime. Trevor Veale

Orchids on show this weekend

WITH all the interest in retro design for interiors and gardens, orchids are experiencing a big comeback.

For one local these big beauties, with an undeserved reputation of being "difficult plants”, have never been out of fashion.

"I got interested in orchids back in the 1970s,” Dick Cooper said.

"My then father-in-law had a large collection of native orchids and cymbidiums and when he sold his house and moved into an apartment I inherited the lot.”

Dick's passion for orchids grew during the years. He said he is never short of lovely flowers to give his wife, Barbara, which is just as well, as Barbara gets the job of chief pot cleaner.

"Pots have to be scrubbed and soaked in bleach before being used again,” Dick said.

"In the good old days I'd have anywhere up top 3000 pots, it's the least liked job of growing orchids.”

When Dick and Barbara moved from southern NSW to Safety Beach, he downsized the number of orchids but was excited at being able to experiment with new varieties.

"Moving here meant I could grow different orchids, ones that are more amenable to the sub-tropical climate. I have downsized in every way, not just the house, but also the hot-house and shade-house but somehow I still manage to have quite a few orchids.”

Dick has been judging orchids for many years and is the head judge for the Mid North Coast region.

"When judging orchids the main things we look for are shape, colour and the dominant habit of the flower.

"You want an orchid with vibrant colour, a circular well-filled in flower and one that sits up and says 'look at me'.”

Dick encourages anyone with an interest in orchids to join one a local orchid group. He is a member of both the Coffs Harbour and Woolgoolga groups.

"Joining your local orchid society is a great way to meet like-minded people, learn plenty and make new friends. Orchid growers come from all walks of life.”

Members of local orchid societies are combining to create a display of plants at the annual Coffs Harbour Orchid Society Spring Orchid Show.

Visitors to this weekend's show, at the North Coast Regional Botanic Garden, can expect to see a variety of native and exotic orchids and chat and meet with members of local orchid societies.

Dick's top 3 tips for growing orchids:

1. Don't over water, if people are going to kill an orchids it's usually by over-watering

2. Make sure they're in dappled light - no direct sun and no heavy shade either or thy won't flower

3. Need to be fed. They don't need a lot but a fertiliser with low nitrogen will promote flowers.

ON DISPLAY: Orchid Society Spring Orchid Show

September 9 & 10 at the North Coast Regional Botanic Garden, Coffs Harbour. Entry gold coin.



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