Jeff’s flower power adds to family silver

Orchid grower Jeff Hutchings with his silver award from Harrogate
Orchid grower Jeff Hutchings with his silver award from Harrogate

Orchid grower Jeff Hutchings has added to the family silver - again.

His Laneside Hardy Orchid Nursery gained a silver award at the recent Harrogate Flower Show, one of the nation’s premier spring horitcultural shows.

For Jeff it was another accolade for his passion for and his promotion of the hardy orchid - and yes, it can grow in your garden.

But he ruefully admits he might have been in the running for another gold or silver gilt award if he had more plants in bloom on the day to display.

The orchids, like so many other plants, have been hit by the long winter.

The good news is that that means they’re more likely to be in their prime for Jeff’s Open Days - one of which takes place on Saturday from 10am to 3pm at the nursery at Bells Bridges Lane, off Cockerham Road.

Jeff is Chairman of the British Orchid Growers Association and sells plants suitable for locations varying from woodland and meadow to garden and cold greenhouse. He has customers in countries as far afield as Spain and Finland and travels around this country giving talks on his love of orchids.

He is currently helping create special orchid displays at Haddon Hall, Derbyshire and a castle in Kent. His plants will again feature in this year’s Chelsea Flower show, this time in a garden entitled The Hebridean Weaver’s Garden

Jeff, who was helped by wife Sue and daughter Sally from Longridge at Harrogate, has been growing the hardy orchids since 2002. He recalled the first time he set eyes on a hardy orchid: “I was doing alpines and one of my suppliers from Scotland sent me down some,,.. it set me off.”

He became a professional nurseryman when he decided he wanted a change of career at the age of 53: “I started in 1998 when I left Myerscough College where I was Head of Sport and Recreation. I wanted to do something different.”

He ws also particularly enthused by wild orchids he saw growing in Scorton. Nowadays he recommends Gait Barrow at Silverdale in early June as the place to go and see the native slipper orchid in all its glory.

This orchid has naturalised in certain places thanks to The Kew Slipper Orchid Project. Jeff recalls: “When you consider 25 years ago there was only one (slipper orchid) plant in the wild anywhere. There was one plant which was guarded up near Grassington somewhere.”

Anyone doubtful about their ability to grow outdoor orchids should heed Jeff’s nursery leaflet which states plainly: “Terrestial hardy orchids are simply perennials with particular dormancy periods. Some species are very easy to grow whilst others are for the more experienced gardener.”

He adds: “It is important to appreciate that most will stand some winter frost and will not tolerate being kept in above average winter temperatures. Put simply they must not be kept in a conservatory.” For more information see www.lanesidehardyorchids.com