Sunday, April 16, 2023

ORCHID MYSTERIES: National Orchid Day!

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you know I post a flower photo every day, usually with the tagline "Behind my Garden Gate." I grow lots of roses (over 125 varieties), but I also cultivate orchids. And since this is National Orchid Day, I thought I'd talk about orchids and mysteries, with some personal anecdotes.

My outdoor orchids, cymbidiums, need to be divided in a specific way. Every time I start the procedure of hacking away at the roots (yes, hacking with a knife cleaned with a blowtorch), I think about rainforests and the quest for rare orchids. I’ve always been fascinated by orchids. When I was growing up, Brenda Starr, Girl Reporter, was my favorite comic strip. I wanted to be just like Brenda – an intrepid reporter traveling the globe in search of the story. Brenda Starr, the liberated, career-action reporter, was definitely my role model. Of course, my fantasy included a romantic Brazilian mystery man like Basil St. John who was always searching for a rare black orchid. Dale Messick’s original Brenda Starr comic strip that I followed in the Philadelphia Bulletin was full of romance, mystery, and exotic black orchids.

So today, splitting my orchids is actually a sojourn into my past. I’m sure it was because of my very close ‘personal’ ties with Brenda Starr that I represented Brazil in the model U.N. when I was in high school, and much later I chose Brazil for one of my Fulbright Fellowships. During my time in Brazil, I even managed to go up the Amazon into Basil’s rain forest, and although I did see a lot of orchids, none were black—and Basil was nowhere to be found.

What Is a Black Orchid? Does the Black Orchid really exist? Where is the Black Orchid found? These questions and others have fascinated orchid enthusiasts for centuries, and orchid growers have been trying to grow this magical, mysterious black colored orchid for ages, too, but this still seems to be a mythical plant. All the hard work by hybridization specialists has been in vain and the search for the Black Orchid continues. Personally I grow a lot of varieties of orchids, but none are black. I guess I’ll just continue my search through mystery fiction, and sometimes while on holiday in tropical rainforests.

So since today is National Orchid Day, I thought I'd post a list about mystery and orchids and rainforests. I’m a big list-maker, and orchids play an important part in mystery fiction including the well known Rex Stout Nero Wolfe series which feature Nero's love of orchids. He has a greenhouse filled with orchids. Stout's Black Orchids is one of my favorite titles. Other orchid mystery titles (fiction and non-fiction and a few out of the normal mystery realm) include:


In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez

Mayhem on the Orchid Isle; Something's Rotten in Paradise by Aysia Amery

Black Orchid Girls by Carolyn Arnold
The Black Orchid by Annis Bell
No Orchids for Miss Blandish; The Flesh of the Orchid by James Hadley Chase
The Orchid Tatto by Carla Damron

The Mystery of The Three Orchids by Augusto De Angelis
The Cloud Garden by Tom Hart Dyke and Paul Winder
Moonraker by Ian Fleming 
Orchids to Murder by Hulbert Footner
The Ghost Orchid by Carol Goodman
Black Orchid by Vaughn C. Hardacker
Black Orchid by Steve Hawk
Beware the Orchids by Cynthia Hickey
Hidden: A Bloom in Waiting by Pyper James
The Emerald Cathedral R.H. Jones
The Orchid Thief by Carolyn Keene (a Nancy Drew Mystery)
The Orchid Eater by Marc Laidlaw

Killer-Orchid by K.T. McCall
Black Orchid by Dave McKean
Orchid Blue by Eoin McNamee
Blood Orchids by Toby Neal 
The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean
The Scent of Scandal: Greed, Betrayal and the World's Most Beautiful Orchid by Craig Pittman (non-fiction)
Orchids and Stone by Lisa Preston

Tigerlily's Orchids by Ruth Rendell
The Cranefly Orchid Murders by Cynthia Riggs
Death in the Orchid GardenDeath at the Spring Plant Sale by Ann Ripley
Blood on the Orchids by Jill Steele

Black Orchids (and other titles) by Rex Stout
The Ghost Orchid Murder by Nancy Jill Thames
Black Orchid Blues by Persia Walker
Deadly Slipper, The Orchid Shroud, Death in the Dordogne; Kill for an Orchid; A Twist of Orchids by Michelle Wan 

Death of an Orchid Lover by Nathan Walpow
Orchid Blues/ Hothouse Orchid by Stuart Woods

Dream of Orchids by Phyllis A. Whitney
Spirit in the Rainforest by Eric Wilson

So there you have it: Mysteries and Orchids. As always, let me know if I've missed one of your favorites Orchid Mystery titles.

Orchids: Behind my Garden Gate

1 comment:

HonoluLou said...

A wonderful post and such lovely flowers. I used to enjoy them always when living in Honolulu. Thank you so much for sharing with us Brenda...I mean Janet :)