If you are going to start growing hardy orchids Bletilla are probably a good way to start because they are relatively cheap. They are however a bit sensitive to extreme cold especially combined with a lot of wet. This has caused my Bletilla to rot over the winter but thankfully it is not difficult or too expensive to start again.
Local garden centre had a large shipment of Bletilla striata. They are sold under the name 'Japanese garden orchid' and the plants all looked nice and healthy. I chose one with three growths and still in bud. Last year my Bletilla striata looked a little diffrent from this one, it was much shorter and the flowers were a darker pink so if anyone knows which variety this is leave a message in the comments. This one is very rootbound and almost bursting out of the plastic pot. I had to cut it out of the pot to replant it.
As you can see it was rather potbound and I did break off a couple of roots getting it out of the pot. I am giving it the Cypripedium treatment by putting it in a shallow terracotta pot in a moist but well draining mixture. This way I can protect it from excess rainfall in winter. It is standing on the table next to the Cypripedium pueblo and it is already looking rather stunning, I will post a picture when the Bletilla is in full flower.
There was a little plant market at the allotment site today and besides your usual plug plants for the allotment (expect a new post tomorrow) van Tubergen also had a stand with some nice plants and bulbs. Here I picked up a Bletilla Striata Alba bulb. This one suffered the same fate as the normal Bletilla and I thought I would try and grow it again.
As you can see the bulb is rearing to go so I quickly planted it in a pot that is I admit a bit on the large side. But it should fill right up in a couple of years.
And as an extra little treat I picked up this little Pleione Formosana. I deliberately got one that was not open yet so I can have it in flower as long as possible. I have never really attempted Pleione before (unless you count that one time that I ordered tiny tiny bulbils from Ebay and losing them because they were so tiny) but they are really adorable. i am not going to bother putting this in a different container this growing season. Van Tubergen have a open weekend this month so I can imagine I might get some more goodies there.