Awarded Natives of the Early Years

Recently when good friend Dennis Wood loaned me his copy of ‘The Australian Orchid Council Awards Register: 1964 – 1986 —Nos. 1 to 600’ to research an article that I was writing on Dendrobium Speciosum ‘National White’ I took the opportunity to scan the record for other native orchids that received awards in the early years. I was greatly surprised to discover that of the first 600 awards only 18 were awarded to native orchids.

While the small number of native species and hybrids to receive award recognition may have been a surprise so too was the relatively large variety of species and hybrids across a number of genera

  • 4 Sarcochilus species
  • 1 Sarcochilus hybrid
  • 5 Dendrobium species
  • 7 Dendrobium hybrids
  • 1 terrestrial species

There was also a large variety of growers achieving these awards. Most growers only appear once or twice on the list with J. Smith being the exception with 3 awards.

Just what this all means I’m not sure. Perhaps in these relatively early years of interest in native orchids there were few specialist native growers. Maybe early attempts at hybridising were struggling in their attempts to to develop quality breeding lines. Possibly growers were not encouraged to put natives up for award consideration. It is also possible that the 18 awards that were given compares very favourably with the level of recognition granted to other genera – I didn’t have the inclination to count all of the other awards!

Regardless of these possible justifications it is surely the case that orchid species and hybrids being grown in their country of origin where a greater availability of genetic material, large areas of suitable environment and a healthy interest in all things native exist there should have been greater recognition of our native orchids. 18 awards out of 600 represents a mere 3 out of every 100 awards granted or 3 awards every 2 years over the first 12 years of AOC awards – I rest my case!

Summary Of AOC Awards to Native Orchids 1964 -1986

Award No.         Plant                                                Owner                 Award           Year

159                 Den. Bardo Rose ‘Berowra’                R. Kerr                HCC            1975

231                 Sarco. falcatus ‘Miriam Ann’              A. J. Merriman    HCC            1977

296                 Den. Bardo Rose ‘Teresa’                   C. Brandon          HCC            1979

297                 Den. speciosum ‘National White’       C. Brandon          HCC            1979

298                 Den. kingianum ‘Bungan Castle’        E. Webeck           AM              1979

299                 Sarco. hartmannii ‘Kerri’                     J. Williams         AM               1979

330                 Den. Ku-Ring-Gai ‘Ann Brown’        W. Brown            HCC             1980

339                 Caladenia catenata ‘Gigantea’              J. Smith             HCC             1980

371                 Den. striolatum ‘Lesley’                       I. Brewster         HCC            1981

382                 Den b’bum var. superbum ‘Blue Horizon’ J.Mackinney AD               1982

388                 Den. Rachelle Simpson ‘Qlander’       S. Hayden           HCC             1982

392                 Den. Hilda Poxon ‘The Lodge’            Mr & Mrs R. Rankine HCC    1982

425                 Sarco. Fitzhart ‘Wollumbin’                 B. Simpson        HCC              1982

454                 Den. falcorostrum ‘Anembo’                E. Gogerly         AM               1983

473                 Den. Bardo Rose ‘Bronilyn’                 J.Smith              HCC              1983

492                 Den. Hilda Poxon ‘Gold Star’              J. Smith              AD                1984

496                 Sarco. hartmannii ‘Sylvanvale’            K. Wilson          HCC              1984

527                 Sarco. hartmannii ‘George’                  G. Colthup         AM                1985

20 or more years later some of these plants are still seen as winners on show benches or appear as parents in nursery catalogues – they have been good enough to stand the test of time.. but what became of the others?

Neville Roper Sept 2003