Vanda orchids

Rosa 'All Ablaze' blazes cherry red in Burke Brothers' Tuscany exhibit, accenting classic Italian elements with bright flowers. (Ron Tarver / Staff photographer)

It is with some trepidation that, for my next reportorial effort, I enter the world of orchids. (This, after tomorrow's story on seed-collecting.) I've always found them very beautiful but know little about them. Perhaps that's good. I can be a stand-in for everyone out there who's ever been intimidated by them. This morning I visited Parkside Orchid Nursery in Ottsvile, way up in northern Bucks County. It was a hike and a half to get there, but well worth it. Tom Purviance and John Salventi run the nursery, and Tom graciously gave me a tour of their five greenhouses. This is a vanda orchid, for obvious reasons a very popular kind. Have you ever seen such a purple? Vandas are a sun-loving orchid, usually bright lavender with blue undertones. This one has a pale white pattern overlaid, large blooms with flattened petals, often said to look as if it's "sprinkled with diamond dust." It was breath-taking, and I'm glad I got this photo before my lens and glasses fogged up. I have others from my visit that have that gauzy, romantic look. It was just the humidity in the greenhouse! I'll be learning a lot more about orchids in the days ahead - that's the plan anyway, so I can share it all in a story next Friday in Home & Design.