Orchid Paradise Wednesday, Mar 9 2022 

I’m excited to share some photos from a recent Orchid Show, titled Untamed, at the Chicago Botanic Garden. I’ve seen orchids in abundance in Hawaii and growing in the Costa Rican jungles like weeds. But I’ve never seen the variety as I did at this show, and I want to share some of the photos with you, so you too can enjoy a few moments of peace.

The blooms were incredibly diverse and spectacular in colors, sizes, and styles. Orchids were speckled, spotted, and striped. Some reminded me of other flowers, such as narcissist, and the patterns on animals, such as giraffes or wild cats.

Orchids were arranged with other tropical plants in assortments hanging overhead, on the ground, and everywhere in between. Guests were treated to a paradise overflowing with orchids.

Orchidaceae, commonly called orchid, is a diverse flowering plant with about 28,000 accepted species. Many are fragrant, others have little-to-no scent, and some smell quite awful.

For home gardeners, growing orchids can be addictive but also challenging. If done well, the rewards are abundant with plants that bloom for many years.

According to the American Orchid Society, the trick to successful orchid gardening is determining the correct balance of light, air, and water appropriate for each plant in its particular environment. When orchids do not get enough light, they do not bloom and their foliage is dark green rather than a desired yellow-green. The goal is to give the plants as much light as they can tolerate without burning.

Orchids need air circulation around the plant and roots. The recommendation is to water a 6” pot every 7 days on average insuring that the plants do not dry out. Water should run through the pot when watering allowing the potting medium (typically not soil) to soak and flush out the salt.

Orchids should be fed by watering the plants first and then adding the fertilizer at ½ strength stated in the directions on the packaging.

Most of the information in this post was taken from the American Orchid Society website. You can learn more about caring for these plants on their site.

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Mexican Oregano Friday, May 4 2012 

Plants go crazy in my kitchen. They love the bright Southern exposure from all the windows. I start with one little clipping and before you know it, I have a jungle. That’s what happened with a little plant from my sister, Patti.

Patti thought the plant was Mexican oregano. The leaves are succulent, furry and bright green and have a very pungent aroma. Patti gave me a few teeny cuttings in a pretty pot she stenciled.  As the plants grew, I broke off the tops and just stuck them in the soil. The cuttings quickly matured and outgrew the little pot. I started another bigger pot and have continued to do so many times over.

To be sure it truly was Mexican oregano, I brought a few leaves into my favorite Mexican restaurant. The owner affirmed it was indeed as we thought. She also said that they do use it in their recipes but never fresh, only dried.

Mexican Chef Rick Bayless offers several recipes on his website that include the herb including Sopa de Lima Clasica and Classic White Pozole with all the Trimmings.

I dried a tray of Mexican oregano leaves and am experimenting with it in my recipes. On my first attempt I sautéed tilapia in a little coconut oil and seasoned it with salt, pepper, garlic, and the dried herb. It was delicious. The Mexican oregano definitely adds a different flavor than the Italian version we are more familiar with.

Do you have a recipe using Mexican oregano? Please share it if you do.

©Mary K. Doyle

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