AGM & Judging Seminar 2021

The Saturday evening dinner was a chance to present Orchid of the Year awards to those winners present, as well as a chance to honour Anton and Janet Wehman of the Howick Orchid Society for their service to orchids in this country.

Merv Dougherty (left) receives his Orchid of the Year prize from guest speaker David Banks. Merv, who is a member of the Wellington Orchid Society, also took home the George Fuller Trophy.  Photo: Sandra Simpson
Bill Liddy of the Hawke’s Bay Orchid Society received several award certificates from outgoing OCNZ President Margaret Lomas.  Photo: Sandra Simpson
Helen McDonald, of the BOP Orchid Society, won a Special Merit Award. Photo: Sandra Simpson
Roy and Lee Neale (Leroy Orchids) of the Waitakere Orchid Society receive a certificate from Margaret Lomas. Photo: Sandra Simpson
Anton and Janet Wehman of the Howick Orchid Society, our hosts for the evening, with Margaret Lomas after receiving their Special Service Award. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The Special Service Award given to Anton and Janet Wehman was in recognition for their contributions to OCNZ and the Howick Orchid Society. Howick was to host the AGM and Seminar last year with preparations well under way when it had to be cancelled due to Covid-19. Anton and Janet were also involved with organising the 2012 seminar. Anton was the chairman of the organising committee for Expo 2016 with Janet assisting in the background. 

In his after-dinner speech David Banks related the circumstances of his near-death or, as he put it, “in 2008 I got a bit crook”. First up was an unreported heart attack followed, later that week, by a coughing fit which “blew a hole in my heart more than an inch across”. His dad drove him to the local medical centre, which apparently upset staff more than David. “They thought I was going to die.” Rushed to hospital, he had open-heart surgery and stayed in hospital for a month.

“What was I worried about? Who’s going to water my orchids …” He arranged to split his collection with one mate taking all the mounted plants and the other all the potted plants. “All the potted orchids subsequently died because they weren’t in a heated greenhouse and were in a place that gets frosts.” Some of them were species orchids imported from the US and available only to a few.

David left his mounted orchids where they were but when that friend moved, sent them to the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra where he could seen them any time. Last year, sadly, Canberra was hit by a destructive hail storm and the glasshouse was smashed, leaving his orchids in full sun on 40C days. “I wrote them off, and told myself I was better off not having any warm-growing orchids.” So when the orchid expert at the gardens asked, “when are you coming to get your plants?”, David was shocked to discover most of them had regrown. Over the years he’d also given the gardens bits of his potted plants and these too had thrived and were waiting for him.

“I took two cardboard boxes but needed a truck to get the plants home, they’d really grown in 4 years. Having thought I’d lost both collections, most of them came back to me.”

The moral of the story? “Share really special plants with other people. You never know when you might need them back.”

Dendrobium spectabile was turning heads at the Judging Seminar. Grown by Bill Pepperell of the Waikato Orchid Society, this plant is native to most of Melanesia (New Guinea, Bougainville, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu). Photo: Sandra Simpson
A judge gets to work measuring flowers on this Prosthechea calamaria ‘Margot’s Mini’, owned by Helen McDonald. Photo: Sandra Simpson