C. Athena Chagaris 'Orchidhaven'

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NEslipper

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After a disappointing blooming last year (HERE) I finally have a respectable flowering of this classic cut-flower plant and well-known breeder from Harold Patterson. Registered in 1965 the cross is C. Helen P. Dane x C. Barbara Billingsley. This is one of the parents of C. Sierra Blanca, a more recent, widely circulated classic white. This is an original division I obtained a few years ago from Plato Matthews. This plant is not going to win any award for compactness, it's a massive, sprawling thing (~2ft from rhizome to leaf tip), but very vigorous. And it has correspondingly massive flowers, the petals are ~10cm long, so if it were perfectly flat, it would be a 20cm flower (7.8 inches) however, the petals fall slightly forward making the NS slightly less. Still, it has wonderful overlapping petals and an upright dorsal as well as heavy substance and a layer of "diamond dust" that sparkles in the sun. I have heard that a well-grown plant can have as many as 5 flowers per stem, and they present beautifully. Part of the lore of this plant is that it has never been shown for an award, probably impossible to prove, but I have a hard time believing that if Harold Patterson had shown this plant with 3-5 20cm flowers in 1965 he would have walked away with anything less than an FCC - it's absolutely spectacular in person, and smells wonderful to boot.
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Some pictures from when the flower was still opening up:

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Can you even compare and contrast the wonderful group of white hybrids that you have?
That depends, is space a concern? If you don’t mind a vigorous, but ungainly space hog, C. Athena Chagaris ‘Orchidhaven’ and C. Helen P Dane ‘Magnifica’ AM/AOS are wonderful. Helen has more history (registered in 1941), but Athena has far superior flower quality.

If something more compact fits your growing space, C. Joyce Hannington ‘Shore Orchid Growers’, C. Earl ‘Imperialis’ FCC/AOS, and C. Bob Betts ‘Lines’ AM/AOS are all vigorous, reliable bloomers with intoxicating fragrance. Joyce has the largest flower to plant size ratio, and on a good blooming the best form in my opinion, but Bob has the most incredible substance and the flowers last forever.

The best overall is whichever is currently in bloom!
 

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