I waited with great eagerness for this hybrid to flower. It was one of my first deliberately planned hybrids. Both parents have extremely attractive large flowers with white being a prominent colour and both have spectacularly coloured lips. Both parents hybridise extremely easily and I was very keen to incorporate the beautiful features of the new Coelogyne usitana. It was only described in 2001 and its only progeny to date has been when crossed with Coelogyne speciosa to produce the beautiful Coelogyne Lyme Bay. Both parents of this hybrid have been highly acclaimed.

In this hybrid I used an FCC (First Class Certificate) awarded Coelogyne mooreana 'Brockhurst' as the pod plant with Coelogyne usitana 'Golden Gate' as the pollen parent. They were pollinated on 28 March 2009, green pod sown on 3 March 2010 (i.e. seed about 11 months old), deflasked 28 March 2011 and flowered for the first time on 26 September 2013.

Coelogyne Kirribilli Marie is distinctly different to and an interesting combination of both parents. Very importantly, it has inherited Coel mooreana's upright  flowering habit and with the flowers closer to simultaneously opening. Coel usitana's flowers are very pendulous, downward facing and are produced sequentially one flower at a time over many months.

The white/whitish colouring of the sepals and petals of both parents has carried through beautifully with notable strong mid-ribs on the sepals. The lip and column are completely coloured with a blend of the colours from both parents - except for a tiny whitish margin on the front of the lip. Coel mooreana's beautiful gold/orange markings have blended with the dark chocolate red/brown of Coelogyne usitana resulting in a soft tobacco orange colouring somewhat closer to the lighter fading colour of an old Coel usitana flower. The colouring covers inside and outside the lip and also the column.

Coel mooreana's broader sepals have carried through so that, with the broader petals, a less than fully opened and downward facing flower the result is a broad rounded cup shaped flower. The overall result is a delicate, soft downward facing flower, almost bell-shaped, about 4cm x 4cm on an upright stem.

Negatives: I expected the lip to be a little darker and perhaps a better selection of the pollen parent could achieve this. I was expecting a slightly larger flower than this first roughly 4 cm by 4 cm across the flower. The size may well increase with more mature flowerings in the future. Although the 'bell' shaped flowers are attractive I would have preferred the openness of Coel mooreana to have come through more strongly.

As a postscript, on the seedling plant in the image above, subsequent flowers have opened a little more widely to show a little more of their colourful beauty. Only three flowers seem to be open at any one time with the oldest flower dying and hanging on as the next flower opens. It has been flowering now for four weeks.

I am still expecting big things from this hybrid but at this stage I am a little disappointed that it is not the Coelogyne hybrid to beat all other Coelogyne hybrids. In my mind this honour still belongs to Coelogyne Unchained Melody and Coelogyne Memoria Wilhelm Micholitz.

Rating: ♦♦♦♦ The seedlings were extremely vigorous in a glasshouse with a minimum temperature of 100C when the outside conditions in winter were down as low as minus 70C. As this orchid developed it revealed more and more of Coelogyne usitana's ability to flower over many months. The good display of flowers at around pot level makes it very attractive.

Registration: Registration with the RHS as Coelogyne Kirribilli Marie was made on 26 September 2013. Marie was my wonderful mother, an avid gardener and a tower of strength and inspiration as the matriarch on our family property called Kirribilli.

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