Monday, March 15, 2010

Ascocenda Elizabeth Taylor

OK , Dr. Motes was in Taiwan, judging an orchid show and I was home battling the unusual cold, and then along came the Fairchild Botanical Garden Orchid Festival. So that's why the second installment of Name Dropping comes a little late.

The story goes like this: a few years ago, just before Christmas, we were asked by a Lord and Lady someone in England, to send an orchid to "a dear friend" - Elizabeth Taylor. THE Elizabeth Taylor. And we said, thank-you but we don't ship. And then we thought, well, if it comes to name-dropping, it would make a neat story..."Oh, we just shipped one of our orchids (special request) to Elizabeth Taylor, for Christmas.."

And on cue, a handsome-looking plant was discovered, with three perfect flower spikes, just ripe to burst out gloriously in time for Christmas. We hung Elizabeth Taylor's Christmas present away in the back of the greenhouse, but after a Saturday pre-Christmas sale, discovered it had disappeared - stolen.

The whole scene turned black like a silent movie: "STOLEN! " "WHAT CAN THEY DO???"
Well, it turned out that just at that very moment, one of Motes Orchids' new crosses bloomed out, an Ascocenda of such a vibrant violet it all but yelled: "I should be called Elizabeth Taylor!" (It's her eyes, their legendary color, for those who don't follow such things.) So the beautiful violet-colored Ascocenda became Ascocenda Elizabeth Taylor and was shipped out to Elizabeth Taylor, movie star, for Christmas.

And we got a little signed card back: "From the desk of Elizabeth Taylor" thanking us for "the beautiful flower," and Dr. Motes, innocent soul, says "She signed it!" and I, having spent my teenage years sending away for pictures of the stars, did what one always did on receiving the glossy portrait with the name across the corner, licked a finger and rubbed the signature. No, Elizabeth Taylor, like Gregory Peck and all the others, had not actually signed her name, not even for her very own orchid. But the blooming out of Elizabeth Taylors continued, and we have them to this day - almost none since that first, a perfect deep violet, but deep purples, light purples and some pink. And whenever we sell one, or just are standing there, looking at orchids, when an Elizabeth Taylor is in bloom, even the pink ones, we have a story to tell.


  1. Mary,

    That is a great story. Now I did not know that Dr. Motes was still making new crosses. Tell me more about these new cross. If you have any seedlings of some of his new crosses, I would be very interested.

  2. That's a great story. I wonder if Elizabeth Taylor fully realized that this new cross of Vanda was actually named after her.

  3. Had a sudden thought -remember she was one of the first to have a fragrance named for her..Maybe someone in her entourage thought we were taking her name as a marketing ploy - that MIGHT be smart... e.g. do a Vanda Beyonce...sell to the bling crowd! M