Waving Goodbye to the Pleiones

I had a great day at Malvern Show yesterday - it's officially a vintage year. Instead of giving you the full tour (which will be on TV tonight at 8pm), I'll be focusing on a snippet or three from time to time.

This is the last ever display of pleiones from Ian Butterfield. I hadn't come across this genus before I started visiting shows and whilst I don't really have the right conditions to grow them (they're a ground orchid which likes to grow on tree trunks and in rock crevices), I do appreciate getting up close and personal to them at the spring shows.

Ian Butterfield is the national collection holder and avid hybridiser. He reassured me his show retirement doesn't mean he'll be stopping his work. "I still haven't managed to breed a green one", he told me, "and I'll still be supplying plants. It's just the effort of staging an exhibition that's getting a bit much now". NB Ian is in his 80s and I hope I'm as sprightly as he is when I get to his age :)

This photo illustrates Ian's total confidence and experience as an exhibitor. This is his entire stock of P 'Sabatini', just 5 plants (there's one hidden behind the label). I'd be scared to death of losing them, but I'm sure Ian gives them the utmost of care.

I hope pleiones continue to be exhibited by other growers. I've found the shows are a great way of discovering and learning about new plants. I might have eventually come across them by other means, but it wouldn't have been half as much fun. And what could be better than talking 1:1 with the expert on them?

What plant discoveries have you made at garden shows?

PS here's a couple of extra snippets from me elsewhere on the blogosphere: a suitable Friday Bench plus the Best in Show from the Floral Marquee. And Patient Gardener made her show debut :)

PPS What does the curator of RHS Wisley do on his day off? Why, attend Malvern of course! I caught up with Colin Crosbie in the Floral Marquee,  where he enthused about the display of Primula sieboldii we had in front of us. It was he who told me it was Ian Butterfield's last show.


  1. I bought one of Ian Butterfield's pleiones at Malvern about 3 years ago. It has sat in my greenhouse being fairly neglected but has produced an extra flower each year and this year I had three. The flowers don't last a hugely long time but they are really quite beautiful. Ian's displays are always gorgeous - he will be missed.

  2. What a wonderful display and such beautiful flowers. Are they hardy or do they have to live in a greenhouse?

  3. Truly the end of an era. I've bought pleiones from Ian as well, although had less success than Arabella. I suppose, like other orchids, they do need a bit of neglect. I even visited the nursery many years ago.

  4. I'm wanting to add a link to my post http://tinyurl.com/ckzc7dd to your series about Google searches which lead people to your blog. But I can't find a label or link to sequence . . . Is there one? If so, would you let me have it? If not - a link to the latest post like it would do.

  5. They are quite amazing plants to look at.
    Glad you had a good time at Malvern - it felt strange not to be there! :(

  6. Arabella and Rusty Duck. Good to hear form people who've been Ian's customers.

    Pauline - I'm not sure. They're very exotic looking aren't they?

    Esther - they're amongst the Question Time label :)

    Karen - I missed you!


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