It’s spring in Brazil and time to renovate our gardens. For me, this was brought to light when I admired an orchid in the garden of Mauricio Mariani, retired engineer, epicure and nowadays a chef who gives a few lucky people cooking classes. Those of us who have cooking classes with Mauricio call him our mestre.
I was astonished when he told me that he bought this particular orchid through the Mercado Livre Brasil, which is the Latin American eBay. As a matter of fact, eBay once owned a part of Mercado Libre or Livre. (The words livre and libre mean “free” and it depends on what language you are speaking, Spanish or Portuguese. The company was founded in Spanish-speaking Argentina.) It was news to me that we can buy orchids through Mercado Livre or the American-owned Amazon.com.
The mestre told me that his beautiful orchid was shipped to him bareroot, and that is a normal shipping procedure for orchids. Bareroot is when all or most of the soil has been removed from a plant’s roots. Orchids are supposed to be completely dry before re-watering them. Bareroot plants can be plants other than orchids, even trees. Typically, they are dug from the ground when they’re dormant or leafless, their roots are shaken free of soil, and then they are kept cool by packing their roots in something moist, such as damp sawdust. That’s the way they ship them off to people like you, me, or Mauricio.
Mauricio told me that his orchid was only about 10 centimeters long when he received it, and he chose a tree to host it. After he attached it to this friendly tree in his yard, it soon grew and flourished beautifully. But buying a mature plant is not the only way to renovate your garden in the spring.
You can grow orchids from seed, but it is not easy. Seeding plants is inexpensive, and you can buy seed packets in many places, even supermarkets. I have bought interesting seeds in museums. However, planting gardens from seed does not ensure a uniform garden in height or sometimes even color. On the other hand, there is a great sense of accomplishment to planting from seeds.
Or, you can grow plants from cuttings, which is a little bit easier. Cuttings are when you cut the stem of an orchid (or any other plant) when it is in a vegetative phase. The stem is the part that doesn’t have roots. The vegetative phase is necessary for orchids to reproduce new flowers. For other plants, it might be in the spring or in the summer, depending on the plant. Then you would root your cutting in a water or in soil.
But if you are in more of a hurry, you can buy plants as seedlings. Seedings are young plants that have developed out of a plant embryo from a seed. They are usually container-grown and often sold in little plastic bags. All you have to do is to dig a hole in the ground, remove the plastic, and stick the seedling into its new home. A seedling can even be a tree and still be considered a seedling if it is no higher than 1.35 meters and has a diameter of no more than 10 centimeters.
Transplants are sometimes grown in trays, in which case they are called plugs, or flowerpots or flower beds; it depends on the nursery. Transplants are usually herbs or ornamental plants that have been born in a nursery and have reached their maturity and may even be in full bloom before they are sold. You can buy uniform sizes and color coordinate them when you simply transplant them into a compatible space in your garden.
A sprout is bud or a growth on a plant and we don’t usually plant them in our garden. But we do eat them. We garnish our salads with mustard sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, soybean sprouts, and even edible flower sprouts. Orchids are not poisonous, so they are edible. They are rich in fiber that is good for digestion and Vitamin C, which boosts the immune system. If your grocery store doesn’t carry orchid sprouts, just garnish your salad with the whole flowers.
Last but not least there are the wildings, which are uncultivated plants, or sometimes a cultivated plant that has become wild. They have been naturally germinated and don’t mind being transplanted in their natural habitat but often don’t like moving to your garden or mine. However, you don’t want to do that with an orchid in Brazil. The Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) protects wild orchids, along with all other native plants, and collecting or removing plants is a crime against the environment, which is usually punished by up to 4 years of imprisonment without bail.
Plants almost always help to relax us, which in turn can help us reduce illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and other chronic illnesses. There are ethnology studies that reveal that plants make people more self-reflective and contemplative. They remind people of the passing of time and help them stay in tune with their surroundings. Horticultural therapy is a widely used method to improve mental and physical health through plants and gardening.
Orchids are particularly healthy plants to have indoors because they purify the air by removing certain toxins from it and then they release oxygen at night. In other words, they transfer oxygen back into the air, and that is why they are good to have in bedrooms – they actually help us sleep better! Scientific studies say that plants in general cultivate a feeling of growth, compassion, and connection to natural cycles, but a colorful orchid can also increase productivity in a work environment.
Orchids are also a gratifying plant to own, because although they look delicate, they are actually very hardy. As a matter of fact, they are one of the easiest plants to take care of. They can bravely flourish under fluorescent lights or outdoors. It is very rewarding to have a plant that blooms several times a year.
1. The genus Orchis comes from an ancient Greek word that means “testicle” because of the shape of its bulbous tubers, or roots.
2. Greek men used to eat orchid tubers, which are roots, to make sure they produced baby boys.
3. All orchid plants are parasitic.
4. Smugglers sell some rare orchids on the black market for as much as $5000.00 a cutting.
5. We bring orchids to hospital patients in order to increase the quality of the air in their hospital rooms.
6. Commercial vanilla flavoring is extracted from orchids.
7. All orchid plants have leaves.
8. Orchids are so old that they co-existed with dinosaurs.
9. Orchids have a symmetry similar to human faces.
10. Some species of orchids actually seduce male bees in order to ensure its pollination.
FYI is an acronym, and an acronym is a word formed by combining the first letters of each word of a name, such as NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) that is frequently seen in the news. Another one you probably know is AIDS, which is an acronym for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. Sometimes acronyms are pronounced as a word as in NATO and AIDS, and sometimes the letters are pronounced individually, such as FYI (for your information). And most of the time they are not even pronounced, as they are used mostly in social media, business communication and Internet. But we do hear CNN (Cable News Network) reporters saying ASAP frequently, which means As Soon As Possible and is hard to pronounce.
Sometimes acronyms become words, such as the word scuba. Everybody knows that word, but few know it started out as an acronym for Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus.
Another acronym that became a word is laser, which began as the acronym Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Most of us are very pleased that these two words became acronyms.
For now, try to incorporate FYI and ASAP into your daily communications, and don’t spend too much time remembering what AIDS and LASER and SCUBA really mean. But you should be able to recognize NATO as it has become a big issue in North America and Europe.
Here are six business acronyms that you should know if you are a businessperson, and maybe aspire to if you are in middle management. Which one would be the lowest stress and the highest salary?