For our second installment in our 3-part “Crazy Flower Times” series, we’re going to introduce you to the period of time referred to as “Orchidelirium”. Orchidelirium, also called “orchid fever”, tells of a mania that swept through England during the 19th century.
To the Victorians, orchids symbolized the mystery and adventure of far-away lands. These elegant organisms, with their glamorous flowers, were largely unknown when they first appeared in Victorian society, but they soon became incredibly popular and symbolized status and wealth, two things the Victorians valued above all else!
Explorers were dispatched to almost every part of the globe in a desperate attempt to find new varieties of these strange and beautiful plants. The obsession with orchids was REAL, and during this time, the desire to collect and discover orchids reached extraordinarily high levels. Orchids were exclusively for the wealthy and privileged members of society and so the fascination for collecting the plants and their flowers erupted into hysteria. Taking years to grow, and with some of the most fragile flowers in the world, the craze produced prices in the thousands of dollars. Special hunters were employed to track down exotic varieties in the wild and transport them to collectors, who were keen to display them in ornate, private greenhouses.
Before modern science, the only way for a person to get their hands on one of these elusive rarities, was to wait many years for the plant to grow large enough to be divided up, and even then it would cost you thousands! During the 1800s, orchids were most certainly out of reach for the average Joe. Nowadays, however, science and new technology has made once-scarce blooms plentiful and affordable enough for everybody. Today, orchids are bred to reflect nearly every colour imaginable, and that even includes a blue variety! Although, on the whole, they may not be as rare and coveted as they once were, orchids are still extremely collectible and some are highly prized all over the world. Infact, some orchids are so special, they have even been stolen! Susan Orlean’s book The Orchid Thief, tells the story of the theft of the highly sought after ghost orchid from a state park in Florida. Elements of the book also inspired the 2002 film Adaptation, starring Nicholas Cage and Meryl Streep.
According to the American Orchid Society, many orchid species are endangered and orchid smuggling is thought to contribute to the loss of some species of orchid in the wild. In an attempt to stop this, an international treaty, CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), was established in 1975, and is designed to ensure that international trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival from over-exploitation. All orchids are covered by CITES. You can read more about it here.
Our orchids are Canadian-grown and come planted in a gorgeous variety of seasonal containers, accented with moss and branching. Appropriate for any occasion, long-lasting and low maintenance, orchids will forever hold connotations of beauty and sophistication. And if orchids just aren’t your thing, well, we stock a delightful variety of house plants too! Take a look here.