This book is a perfect example of why Steven Frowine is my favorite orchid writer. He always picks subjects that need writing about, and then does a bang-up job. Even though this book is jam-packed with information, it's presented in a fun, user-friendly format. The chapters are arranged by flower color --- what a totally helpful and obvious way to present these popular plants! They are the most popular orchid grown today, and their popularity shows no sign of waning. Why should it? They're easy to grow (perfect for beginners), long-lasting, and come in the most radiant colors and patterns imaginable.
The first chapter introduces the complicated flower and foliage. The majority of the book focuses on the newer Phalaenopsis hybrids, and the second chapter introduces the species which are the building blocks of the modern hybrids. Then come the color chapters, starting with white and pink. There's a fascinating sidebar explaining what judges look for in a "perfect" white Phalaenopsis. Next come the yellows and oranges, followed by the reds and purples. Here he says "Precious few truly red Phalaenopsis have been bred thus far; most "red" Phalaenopsis have strong secondary pigmentations of purple or yellow. Consequently, when we refer to red, we are actually referring to a broad spectrum of colors ranging from purple to red-orange to garnet red." A pure red, it seems, is the Holy Grail for some Phalaenopsis breeders. The next chapter is the Harlequins, with variegated patterns that fascinate and delight. Chapter seven is "Novelties, Multifloras, and Miniatures", a diverse category containing the widest variety of color, flower types, and many of the fragrant Phalaenopsis. At the end of each of these chapters is a lengthy gallery of hybrids by year of registration, some even going back to the 1950's.
The longest chapter is about how to grow these delightful flowers, and it's ultra-complete, with detailed drawings and photographs. Every aspect of Phalaenopsis cultivation is covered in a very inviting way. You start to realize just how easy these orchids really are. The final chapter is an insightful one on selecting and buying moth orchids. Following that come the "lists", an aspect of Frowine's books that truly makes them must-have references. Here the lists start with Sources and Suppliers, then my favorite list --- the Fragrant Phalaenopsis. Other lists include: Intergeneric Hybrids, Hybrids by Registration Year and By Originator. A fascinating book on a fascinating subject.
Timber Press, Portland, OR (800) 327-5680, www.timberpress.com, 2008. 204 pages, drawings and over 300 color photographs, hardback, $39.95.