He’s growing orchids — by the thousands!
Take a road trip with veteran gardener Jody Goodwin to Woodsprite Orchids, Pineland Center garden and Donna’s Greenhouses …

Good morning! Aren’t the flowers glorious? I love this time of year. Everything is bursting and buzzing and hasn’t had the time or temperatures to get stressed or burned up yet. Today should be a really good day for everyone as it marks two very important occasions.
First, it is the day to honor our fathers. It is their day, so be nice and go fishing or go play golf or go to a car race — or whatever they want. And if they want to fire up the grill, I say more power to them. And speaking of that grill, today is also the first day of summer – yeah!  Some of you may be harvesting those first greens and they will make a great salad to go with the burgers. And in a few days, it will be time for strawberries. Let’s all give another yeah!
There are so many good things about summer — like taking road trips. And since I promised you all in February to get more information on orchids (specifically on Woodsprite Orchids in New Gloucester), my friend Garrick and I headed off.
Garrick loves orchids and takes great delight in telling me about which ones are blooming and how well; and after my Valentine’s article on orchids, he headed to New Gloucester. So I had a built-in travel guide and a person to answer my questions. We left at 9 a.m. and headed south on the Gray Road out of Lewiston and made the left to what is called Upper Gloucester. This road takes you to Pineland Center. On the way are some of the loveliest old houses I have seen in a long time — just hidden there in the woodlands with stonewalls and barns and lilac bushes that must be decades old. It is also a road made for going slowly with little traffic so you can look to your heart’s content. Directly after Pineland, which gets more beautiful every time I see it, you will find the turn to Woodsprite Orchids.
Richard Morin owns this lovely place and you can tell he is a man who loves his vocation. He was happily moving from area to area with his watering wand and the whole place was a bit like a tropical jungle. When I asked how many orchids there were, he pondered for a moment and replied, “4,000 to 6,000.” I stopped writing in amazement. I can’t even begin to imagine having so many plants that you count them in the thousands. But, if you took a minute and really, really looked, you understood the numbers. They hang from the ceiling in waterfalls of exquisite colors, climb over and about in every direction and surround a water feature that includes a huge tree trunk that goes to the ceiling. An awe-inspiring accomplishment if you consider the weather from November to April in our little corner of the world.
In answer to our many questions, words like miltonia and phalaenopsis rolled off Morin’s  tongue and then I had to ask him to spell them. His patience was a sure sign of his desire to share his love of orchids, and of growing them, with everyone who is interested. He explained quite emphatically that the orchids are not just a product to him — that he is a collector and wants to share his knowledge.
The orchids are big and flashy, small and exquisite; and some, I found, to be just happy. The happy ones are the pansy orchids, miltonia, which like regular garden pansies, just make me smile back. The centerpiece of his greenhouse is the water garden which sports not just orchids but an array of Rex begonias, some of them huge, as well as bromeliads, staghorn ferns and tropical plants seldom seen in our world. He is as knowledgeable about those as the orchids. I am not going to attempt to separate out the families of orchids and their specific growing, feeding and potting requirements, just go see Richard. I couldn’t begin to give you the information he can.
Despite my decision not to bring home any of the beauties, due to the 100 houseplants I already maintain, I lost the battle with myself and barely managed to walk out with just three. Two moth orchids, or phalaenopsis, which are supposed to be the easiest – one small flowering one in burgundy and one larger, flashier specimen in shades of yellow. And, yes, I also fell victim to one of the pansy orchids, just to make me smile. (I’ll let you know how it goes.)

Looks closed, but it’s not
Garrick and I planned to just go down to Woodsprite Orchids and back; but since we were driving right by the Pineland Center garden, we decided to stop. This is open to the public, despite the fact it does not look like it. It is surrounded by a high white fence and does not look accessible. However, if you drive around to what would be the back of the garden, you will find parking spaces and a welcoming gate.
The fence is not there to keep you out but to keep the local deer from doing what deer do. This is a lovely garden and I would recommend it to those who might want a new shrub or two for their yards. It has a fairly wide variety of shrubs and small trees and would give you a chance to see them actually growing in a setting as opposed to a five-gallon pot at the nursery.
The day we were there, part of the garden was closed off and you knew why before you read the sign. A lovely mother killdeer had decided to sit on her nest which was inconveniently located at the convergence of four paths. What might have been a late batch of babies from last year or an early batch from this spring were running about in their stiff-legged little way, making all kinds of ruckus. This appears to be a quiet and protected garden where many birds and small critters feel at home. So walk with quiet and careful steps as you enter their home.

Garden critters galore
On our way back to Lewiston and on to Turner, we ran into a detour and ended up seeing a sign for Donna’s Greenhouses. Now, not having ever been but having heard from many people that this is a neat place, we made the turn. After all, it was a road trip and the sun was shining. It was a great decision. I have a particular liking for unique and well-made garden sculpture and am always looking for something different. Well, some of the sculpture available at Donna’s was the best I have seen outside of an artist’s studio. There is something for everyone, including critters, fairies, wood sprites, dragons and several choices for Oriental gardens. There was a little dragon lying on its back and you just knew from his face he wanted his tummy rubbed. Way, way too many temptations. The flowers were beautiful, plentiful and she had some choices you seldom see at local nurseries; but this particular day, I was enchanted with the garden critters.
By the time we got back to Lewiston, we were hungry and had a great lunch at Willie Beans on Canal Street. If you haven’t tried this great little shop with creative food and a wonderful lunch atmosphere, put it on your list. With all of these stops, I walked through my door at 1 p.m. Now that is a lot of discovery, fun and adventure in four hours.
So, until next time, be good to Dad because he deserves it. Celebrate the first day of summer, watch for the strawberry signs and eat as many as you can get your hands on just because they are so good — and don’t forget to make jam for Christmas presents. Plan a road trip with a friend and take a few turns you weren’t planning on because you never know where the road less traveled will take you and what you will discover.
Happy gardening.

 Jody Goodwin has been gardening for more than 25 years. She lives in
Turner with her husband, Ike, her two dogs and two cats. She can be
reached by writing to her in care of the Sun Journal, 104 Park St.,
Lewiston, Maine, 04243-4400 or by e-mail at [email protected]

Remember, not all bugs are bad
Yep, along with all the great summer things, the bugs are back in the garden.
So this is my regular reminder and warning: more bugs are good than bad, so don’t just arbitrarily kill things. Remember that every time you spray some strong chemical pesticide, the good bugs die right along with the bad ones.
The short list is really simple. Buy some Safe Soap, which is organic, and spray only early, early or late, late. At those times of day, the bees, butterflies and hummers will be nested up. Try not to spray when there is a breeze so the product doesn’t float to other areas, and treat only those areas where there are bugs. If you are battling aphids on roses or lupines, put three tablespoons of Murphy’s Oil Soap into an empty spray bottle, fill with water and spray up and down the plant. Wait 30 minutes and rinse with a hose.
Many of the larger bugs like Japanese beetles, green tomato horn worms and tent caterpillars are most effectively removed by hand and dropped into a container of soapy water. Red lily leaf beetles are pretty much immune, except to the harshest and most poisonous of the pesticides. Hand-picking the beetles and removing their egg clusters from the undersides of the leaves is a good course because trying to kill them will kill everything. For those bothered with slugs, look for Sluggo or Sluggo Plus. It is organic, will not harm pets or children and breaks down into a soil conditioner after about two or three weeks.
The best way to fight pests in the garden is to have a healthy garden with a wide variety of plants that attract the good bugs, birds and toads. Toads are very good in a garden because of all the bugs and slugs they eat. Finally, always carefully read the warnings and precautions on the back of garden products. Understand what they do, not just to the bugs, but to your soil and to all the living things in your world.   


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