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Orchid Collection

   Probably the most distinguished nurseryman of the Victorian era was Frederick Sander, the Victorian era was Frederick Sander, the man they called the Orchid King. His huge nursery was one of the largest in Britain, and he boasted of having orchid collectors in every corner of the world.  When word reached him of a legendary red Phalaenopsis, he immediately dispatched a collector called Robbelin to find it. In 1881, Robbelin arrived at the small island of Davao in the Philippines, after searching the nearby island of Mindenoa without success. As his boat approached the shore of this previously unvisited island the natives met them with hostility. Frightening warriors, with hair dyed bright golden yellow and bodies streaked with coloured paint, threatened them as they approached. Robbelin considered turning back, but then he noticed that among the bright yellow heads were flowers of the sought-after Phalaenopsis. He made gestures of friendship and was allowed to land. He exchanged gifts in return for being shown where the red Phalaenopsis grew, and later left the island laden with a valuable cargo. The plants eventually arrived in England and were named Phalaenopsis sanderiana. The flowers, however were never red, but a pale rosy-pink.

    Another of Sander’s collectors was making further discoveries in New Guinea. He encountered a village where the tribesmen laid the bones of their dead in graveyards and then decorated them with the finest orchids they could find. The plants continued to grow, their roots firmly attached to the bones. This is how plants of Dendrobium schroderianum arrived at the salesrooms in London, attached to human skulls and accompanied by two native idols, said to have been sent to protect the souls of the ancestors on their journey. This was a condition insisted upon by the natives who were persuaded to relinquish parts of their valued ancestors only after mirrors, beads and a roll of brass wire had been exchanged. The plants, still attached to the skulls, and the idols were sold as one lot and purchased by the Hon. Walter Rothschild, in whose collection they remained for many years. D. schroderianum was named after Baron Schroeder, who was a patron of Frederick Sander.

The Great Colletors

 Early Orchid Nurseries

 Early Private Collections


World of Orchids

The History of Orchids
Thai Orchids

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