Drawing Orchids, Wanting So Much More

Vanda Orchid drawn at the Myriad Botanical Garden's Tropical Conservatory. 14" x 20" 6B pencil on celery green Ingres paper.
Vanda Orchid drawn at the Myriad Botanical Garden’s Tropical Conservatory. 14″ x 20″ 6B pencil on lovely celery green Ingres paper. Sometimes, drawing the thing you desire is as good as having it. Sometimes.

This week I did something I knew I would regret. I fell for an orchid.

Ant Man’s favorite expression,”Ever desiring, ever desirous” sounds a little redundant, but he claims it’s from the Tao Te Ching. ( he uses it on me whenever I shop online). Pressed for clarification he said, “It’s the obsessive, unquenchable nature of desire: the more you have, the more you want. The notion you’ll be happy when you finally get what you want is now known to be untrue. You can just read any novel, but there’s science behind it.”

Vanda orchid, "Robert's Delight Big Black". It grows from a small basket hanging in the air under a live tree branch at the Myriad Botanical Garden Tropical Conservatory in OKC.
Vanda orchid, “Robert’s Delight Big Black”. An epiphytic orchid, grown in a basket under a branch at the Myriad Botanical Garden Tropical Conservatory, the glassed-in jewel box centerpiece of Oklahoma City. It still bears a tag from the original grower. I looked it up the minute I got home.

Let me first say I garden avidly, but I’ve resisted orchids on the principle that I won’t grow anything that needs more attention than I do. So after dropping off two paintings at the Myriad Botanical Garden’s fundraiser auction, I spent a couple of hours in the tropical conservatory glasshouse at my easel, right next to this blooming jezebel. I drew the shining clumps of strappy leaves and the cascade of lurid purple flowers, and I clearly heard their siren song. Have you ever noticed that when you draw, you go into a more open, vulnerable state of mind? The more I drew this orchid, the more I wanted it. Ever desiring, ever desirous. Or so it’s said.

Drawing the alluring Vanda from the top of the catwalk at the Myriad Garden's Tropical Conservatory. I could hear the siren song of the orchid above the sounds of a rushing waterfall under my feet.
Drawing that alluring vamp, Vanda, from the catwalk at the Myriad Garden’s Tropical Conservatory. By the way, a great place to warm up on a cold day.

When I got home, I looked up Vanda orchids: highly prized, showy, expensive. Not for beginners. Phalaenopsis orchids looked promising, though, and I even found a Martha Stewart video on making orchid wall-hanging gardens. Downside: daily watering. I browsed the pages of orchid devotees and their tiers of humidity trays, misters, grow lights, whole rooms of floral life support. Being the obsessive type, I know I could go there, too. But I have my principles. I won’t grow anything needier than me. So, for now, I’ll stick with irises. They’re showy, too.

Although Homeland has some reasonably priced phalaenopsis this week…

Happy Friday.

10 thoughts on “Drawing Orchids, Wanting So Much More

  1. dinahmow says:

    Go with the relatively simple Cymbidium. Yes, it is possible to kill them, but you really need to be dedicated to forgetfulness! (I can’t grow them here as they hate the tropics!)

  2. zeladoniac says:

    They’re beautiful, too. I’ll give them a look. They might not like our climate, either. Thanks for the suggestion, dinahmow. I’ll check the rule book…

  3. Catherine Temple says:

    Don’t give up on the beauty of orchids as a houseplant. I’ve been growing Phalaenopsis orchids for over 25 years with nothing more than bright window light and a tray of stones underneath them for a little extra humidity and they flourish! Most of the time I forget all about them and still they bloom gorgeously. Treat yourself. You won’t regret it!

  4. maggiebird says:

    It’s funny how plants grab a place in a person’s heart. Personally, I’d go for the bromeliad that’s just next to that orchid. Much easier to keep alive, and so beautiful.

  5. fionrk says:

    I used to be terrified of orchids, and I run a nursery! I was given one a few years ago, and I embarrassed to say I neglected it woefully. It bloomed, and has bloomed every year since. I have started growing smaller ones now, in moderation. I think you need to buy one suited to your area. They do cope with being ignored amazingly well. And as for the vanda, I bought one, put it in a tree outside (we live in tropical Qld), and it has flowered every year as well. Think I am just lucky.

    And I love the drawing. Your work is fantastic.

  6. zeladoniac says:

    Thanks to all for the nudge on orchids. Tropicals do well here outdoors in summer with adequate water, too- haven’t tried bromeliads, but that is indeed a splashy specimen in the picture. I’ll have to get the name of it- so tempting.

    But not quite ready for a puppy, Marci, although please give yours a hug from me…

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