Our One Of A Kind Orchid Wall

About a year ago Armando and I built a planter wall so that Cynthia and I could have some orchids. We poured a sizable foundation to support the twelve-foot tall wall and embedded a few vertical pieces of rebar to also support the wall. We attached a piece of foam building panel to the rebars ~ I used this same foam stuff elsewhere in the house construction ~ it has a core of Styrofoam with a wire mesh on both sides. You plaster the panel with stucco. Of course we chose the wettest time of the year…

Looking out the kitchen window, waiting for the water to recede.

I cut out the wire mesh where I wanted holes for flower pots, then cut out the Styrofoam circles. To make the flower pots, I bought some round concrete blocks/tubes that are made to form building support columns. Armando cemented the blocks together in pairs to make longer blocks. We inserted these longer blocks into the cutout circles, the midpoint of the blocks straddling the foam panel. Then we applied the first coat of stucco, supporting the floppy wall as we worked our way up:

You can see the four pieces of half-inch rebar sticking up in front of the foam. There are another four on the other side of the wall.

After we applied the first coat of stucco to each side of the wall, and after the concrete had set a day, the wall was now free-standing. We removed the braces. Next we applied a second, finish coat of stucco. We formed some of the stucco to look as if vines were growing on the wall. Here the wall is finished and ready for orchids:

There is a woman at the public market in town who sells orchids. Because I wanted so many, she had her son go with me to their home where they grow the orchids. Far off the main road, the road became rutted and potholed and nearly washed out, a brutal drive down and up the mountain, mostly down. No wonder most people who live out there walk the several kilometers. When we arrived we took a five-minute “walk” to their house. This is the walking path to their house:

Once there, the son went in the house and got a thick book about orchids. I could tell that this book was a family treasure. He showed me pictures of orchids to get an idea of what I wanted. Then we walked to the orchid area:

Her son is in the foreground and her husband is in the blue hat.They have perhaps thousands of orchids growing.

When the woman’s husband saw me, he called into the house to their daughter and said, in Spanish, “Look who is here. Get the photo!” An older teenage girl came out of the house holding a photo of her, Cynthia, and me. She remembered me and  greeted me warmly.

Way back before Cynthia and I built this house, we had another piece of property, one hectare in size, in the nearby pueblo of La Mesa (we still own it). At this property, we suffered two catastrophic landslides that wiped out our home building project. But while we were building that house, we sponsored a young girl who was a Princess, potentially a future queen in their annual festivities. While the young lady was showing me the picture, I took a picture of the picture. But I couldn’t see my phone’s screen very well and cut Cynthia’s and my head off, so I cropped the photo to this:

After choosing 38 orchids, we put them in crates and carried them back down the long and rocky path back to the truck. I felt as if I should have had one of those “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” buttons, but I managed to get down the path without falling on my butt. Once loaded in our vehicle, we said our goodbyes and I headed back home.

There is an immediate steep climb out of their valley and the truck just wouldn’t do it. I pushed the button on the dash for 4×4, but the button didn’t light. I tried several times but the truck would just sit and spin about half way up the hill. As good luck would have it, a big 4×4 pickup was in the area and was headed out of the valley. We hooked up my tow strap to his truck, and in a fast and furious Mr.  ~ Toad’s Wild Ride, he hauled me out at least a kilometer to the point where I could go it alone. I gave the guy a twenty, we all shook hands, and we were all happy. I’ll have to get that issue fixed some day.

The orchid folks also supplied several sacks of a particular moss that the orchids grow well in. The woman also suggested that I go to the supermarket and buy some natural charcoal for BBQs and plant each orchid with a piece of the charcoal. Armando and I did as she directed. Here is the finished and planted wall viewed from our roof deck. I think it is kind of whimsical ~ if it didn’t have plants in it, you could play Whack-A-Mole with the wall:

And the other side:

This isn’t the time of year for a lot of blooms/blossoms, but this one was in bloom this morning. Damn that watermark:

Cynthia’s father was really into growing orchids as a hobby in California, but we are growing them because they are delicate and pretty. We don’t know the names of the individual orchids and are pretty much ignorant of the whole endeavor. But we do get a lot of enjoyment from looking at them.

In other news ~

When Cynthia and I met, I told her that there was one day a year that I ignore. Valentine’s Day. What a lot of pressure. What a lot of expectations and potential disappointments. I will not go through all of that just so Hallmark can sell a few hundred million cards. I told her that my expression of our being in love was fair game for every day of the year. Except Valentine’s Day!

A while back I was in between larger projects. It seemed time to do something nice for Cynthia so I decided to make a keepsake box for her. I pulled together some hardwood scraps and dusted off the mini-dovetail jig. Here’s what I came up with:

I bought the hardware online. The hinges match.

Oops. Looks like I missed cleaning out a bit of glue on the lid. I’ll do it when Cynthia isn’t looking.

And our dog Jabo, now nearly twelve years old, is going strong. He HAS to ~ DEMANDS to ~ play Throw, Fetch, And Keep Away several times a day. He and I fight to the death like professional wrestlers. We’ve bought him lots of pull and chew toys, but his favorite go to is this gnarly old agave syrup bottle. It makes a loud clicking sound as he gnaws on it. The bottle just won’t die. Good dog Jabo:

That’s all for now. Thanks for stopping by. Fred

9 thoughts on “Our One Of A Kind Orchid Wall

  1. Awesome orchid wall. I currently live in Arizona, so little humidity to grow orchids outside. I did when I lived in the Bay Area of California. Had about 75 when I moved. Had to give them all away. I really miss them. Pls post some photos when yours bloom. A benefit of where you chose to live.

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