Cattleya Bow Bells 'Purity' FCC/AOS

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NEslipper

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Blooming for the first time for me, this is probably the most important plant in my classic cattleya collection. The first Bow Bells ever awarded, it received its FCC (to Clint McDade of Rivermont Orchids) in 1945, the same year the grex was registered by Black & Flory of England. The cross is C. Edithiae alba 'White Empress' FCC/RHS x C. Suzanne Hye. As others have mentioned before, the Suzanne Hye used to make this grex was sent to the U.S. for safe-keeping during the war but the ship it was on was torpedoed by a German U-boat and sank. There has been speculation that the Suzanne Hye was a tetraploid, as remakes of this cross have never been as good as the original grex. This is an original, virus free division I received last year. It's a vigorous grower, putting out 2 growths this summer, although only one flower on this first blooming. As both Arthur Chadwick and Jeff Bradley have noted, Bow Bells revolutionized white cattleya breeding, as the form and substance had no precedence at the time, and the grex went on to become one of the most highly awarded grexes in AOS history. I grow this on a south-facing windowsill in the northeast U.S. without supplemental lighting. Even so, to me it's an incredible flower even by today's standards. Wonderful balance and presentation, with flat dorsal that stands straight up. It also has that intoxicating classic cattleya fragrance. Please ignore the minor blemishes on the petals, some idiot grower dropped the plant while setting up for photos... I can't imagine who that was......
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PeteM

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How does she grow after all these years? Is she vigorous with roots and new leads? I’m also curious if a plant this special has been virus tested. No judgment, just curious, I know many people don’t test especially on the historically significant plants. Thanks for sharing, a fine bloom indeed!
 

Ray

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Fantastic.

Merritt Huntington gave me one many moons ago when I was supplying a limited number of cut flowers to florists in the Georgetown SC area.
 
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I have only Bow Bells ‘July’, a less prestigious cultivar. I am also amazed that some incredibly careful and lucky grower was able to keep this plant virus free for so long. I think some of these precious cultivars made it into the hands of the most elite growers who become like arks for these amazing plants. I suspect that such cultivars are rarely mericloned. If you have the right provenance and proof that it is virus free it is like a work of art. Please protect it.
 

NEslipper

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How does she grow after all these years? Is she vigorous with roots and new leads? I’m also curious if a plant this special has been virus tested. No judgment, just curious, I know many people don’t test especially on the historically significant plants. Thanks for sharing, a fine bloom indeed!
It's been a vigorous grower for me, two growths this summer (1 blooming) and tons of new roots that filled the pot! I've been thinking a lot recently about how these heirlooms are actually some of my most vigorous and floriferous plants. I think it's because that's what they were bred and selected for. These early hybrids were made in England and the Northeast U.S. - places not known for long sunny days, at a time before artificial lighting of greenhouses. The plants were selected for the commercial cut flower market, so they wanted strong growers that were extremely floriferous. And after almost 80 years in cultivation, these select plants are extremely well adapted to pot culture, and are still going strong. I think they're actually great plants for home growers looking for success with cattleyas. Sorry, that was somewhat off topic. I virus tested this plant this past March and it was still virus negative!
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NEslipper

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Fantastic.

Merritt Huntington gave me one many moons ago when I was supplying a limited number of cut flowers to florists in the Georgetown SC area.
That's amazing, lucky you! Do you still have the plant, or was it sadly lost in the greenhouse freeze?
 

PeteM

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It's been a vigorous grower for me, two growths this summer (1 blooming) and tons of new roots that filled the pot! I've been thinking a lot recently about how these heirlooms are actually some of my most vigorous and floriferous plants. I think it's because that's what they were bred and selected for. These early hybrids were made in England and the Northeast U.S. - places not known for long sunny days, at a time before artificial lighting of greenhouses. The plants were selected for the commercial cut flower market, so they wanted strong growers that were extremely floriferous. And after almost 80 years in cultivation, these select plants are extremely well adapted to pot culture, and are still going strong. I think they're actually great plants for home growers looking for success with cattleyas. Sorry, that was somewhat off topic. I virus tested this plant this past March and it was still virus negative!
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Amazing, yes, I believe you are right on those points. Geography can be a limitation, especially in a time period with no LED lights or KelpMax :) I bet they did rely heavily on selecting plants that grew stronger and faster than the average. Very happy to see this in such good hands and being grown on for the next generation of growers. Enjoy enjoy enjoy. Well done.
 

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