Wednesday, 7 July 2010


Having mentioned Joseph Chamberlain and orchids, maybe a word about buttonholes is in order. The Victorians and Edwardians were great plant collectors and one of their chief passions was for orchids. I say more about this in the second, forthcoming, book but, having consulted Liz Johnson, of McBean's Orchids in Lewes, I can say that the Cymbidium orchid was a favourite for orchid buttonholes, like the one in the illustration; both orchid and photograph are from Liz Johnson of McBean orchids, which is a prize winnning orchid nursery. There seems to be a modern, self-conscious craze for small, half-hearted buttonholes but this Cymbidium West Down in the photograph would be a stonker and another genus that renders big flowers is Odontoglossum. But if you want something more discreet, there are orchids in the genus Masdevallia and Masdevallia Marguerita is a splendid example.

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