Ingrid Caffery spends her time admiring her blossoming orchids that she has been growing for nearly 20 years.
The stunning orchids come in incredible vibrant pink, orange, red, purple, brown and white. The purple ones in particular go nicely in an ei, says Caffery.
“The pink and white orchids look like little cherry blossoms, I put them everywhere because I love them.”
Some of her orchids have already bloomed and more are set open. Caffery sells some of her plants and gives some away to friends.
However, she has to hide some of her rare orchids, she has white orchids that look like doves when they bloom. Some of her plants have been practically stripped bare. “The pink ones also get picked,” she says.
In fact, there’s a belief that orchids can be difficult to grow and maintain but Caffery insists it’s actually quite easy.
She used to teach people on Rarotonga how to grow orchids which she had learnt how to do in Hawaii.
The orchids themselves can be quite delicate but they can last three to four weeks and more robust purple orchids last for six weeks.
Caffery loves to show off some of the eye-catching orchids she grows on her property but there are some stunning orchid blooms that grow wild in parts of Rarotonga.
In her gardens in Atupa-Nikao, she’s got patches of orchids growing on trees, in big clay plant pots and even hanging plant pots on her tipani trees.
Nearing Christmas all her orchids will be in full bloom and she has a few basic tips for orchid care.
There are special growing mixtures that Caffery can’t get here but she makes do with what she has.
Sunlight is important, orchids like morning sun, and not hot afternoon sun. Pulling out weeds can help too. “It’s hard to bend down and spend all day in the garden. Before I was in the garden all day.”
She also uses fertiliser at least once a month after the blooms have dropped, but sometimes even the most well-cared for orchids have problems with pests – which Caffery finds can be a challenge.
Her units near her home are named the Atupa Orchid Units after her love for the plant and surrounding the units are fresh blooms.
And, she says, the people who stay in her units think the orchids are wonderful too.