Wollongbar orchid master's growing passion for the exotic
THERE'S an art to growing orchids that Wollongbar resident George Hobbs has mastered.
Close to 5000 of the exotic plants are currently growing in his backyard shade house, covering a range of colours, sizes and species.
"They're all a mixture. There's a lot of natives," he said.
"I do have a favourite - it belonged to my wife. I bred it and named it after her.
"It's a native orchid, Anna."
Growing orchids is a hobby Mr Hobbs has been flowering for more than six decades, after planting his first orchid in 1957.
Mr Hobbs said re-potting was probably the hardest and most time-consuming part of orchid growing.
"It's quite a lot of work," he said.
"Different orchids have got different ways of growing. I grow them in pots and on slabs.
"They flower quite well. Most flower once a year, there's a few that will flower three to four times a year.
"The best one has 40 spikes on it and it has about 60 flowers per spike."
Maintaining his impressive collection requires two hours of care daily.
As a member of six local orchid clubs and a life member of five, Mr Hobbs has made a habit of seeding his knowledge with others.
He said the trick to getting orchids to flower was finding the right balance of light and adding fertiliser.
"You have to give them some water and mainly fertiliser," he said.
"If they're not flowering once spot of the shade-house you move them and you'll quickly find out where they like it."