Inquiring Photographer: Orchid Cubit Member Todd_Boland

By Kathy Puckett (boojum) on August 29, 2010

Recently, I was thinking about the people I talk to every day online and realized I probably don't know them as well as I would like. Sooo, I have created this member interview feature! I hope you enjoy learning about our members as much as I do!

Here are the questions that I ask each member:

1. Please tell us about yourself. (ex.: your past, your professional status, now, where you grew up, where you live now and the zone, etc.)
2. Do you garden besides growing orchids? Tell us about it.
3. What is your favorite music, films, books, quotations, etc.
4. What other hobbies do you have? Tell us about them.
5. Tell us about your interest in orchids and how it progressed.
6. What is most important to you? Who are your heroes?
7. What are your dreams and aspirations?
8. What makes you laugh?

1. I work as a research horticulturist at the Memorial University of Newfoundland Botanical Garden located in St. John's, Newfoundland. Part of my work involves plant breeding (mostly beardless iris) and plant selections from our native plants. I also do botanical surveys in various parts of the province. I maintain the alpine house and crevice garden at our BG. I am also responsible for interpretation panels around the Garden and am the main tour guide.

Here is the crevice garden I designed at work.

Crevice Garden at work

I just published my first book, 'The Wildlfowers of Fogo Island and Change Islands'. These are two islands located off the northeast coast of Newfoundland. The flowers are actually found throughout eastern Newfoundland but I was commissioned to do the book using the islands as the focus. I am currently writing 'The Trees and Shrubs of Newfoundland and Labrador' to be released this coming spring.

Here is my book cover.
My book
 I have lived all my life here and in fact, inherited my parents' house which was previously owned by their parents. So my house is now third generation in my family. St. John's is located in a USDA zone 5b. Our winters are mild but long and often snowy. Summers are short and cool, ideal for growing alpine plants.


2. My outdoor passions are alpine plants, oriental lilies and beardless iris. I have been a member of the North American Rock Garden Society for over 15 years and I am the chair of the Newfoundland Chapter of NARGS. On the NARGS website, I administer the "Plant of the Month" feature and the image gallery. I am also a moderator for their forum...I need a life!

My garden is small but packed tight with a wide variety of plants...at last count over one thousand kinds. I like to push the limit, so I grow many zone 6 plants and even get away with some zone 7 ones. Most of my iris are siberians but I also have versicolors, ensatas and my own hybrid crosses between the three.

My garden.

My garden

3. My favorite music is smooth jazz...artists like George Benson, Peter White, David Koz and Stephen Oliver. Most of you have probably never heard of them! Fantasy novels are my favorite reading, with R. A. Salvatore among my favorite writers. I also enjoy action novels along the lines of 'Indiana Jones' movies. My favorite movies are science fiction and action.

4. My other hobby is bird watching. I have been an avid birder for over 30 years. In the last 10 years I have traveled to many places on bird tours....Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago, Ecuador, Argentina, Slovakia, Spain...I head to South Africa this October. I take advantage of these trips to enjoy the plant life as well (often much to the chagrin of the other tour participants).

Here is a photo of me at the Center of the World Monument in Ecuador.

Center of the World Monument in Ecuador

Photography is also an all-encompassing hobby...I have three cameras...Nikon Coolpix 8800, Canon S5IS and a brand new Nikon D300S with a 80-400mm telephoto. I photograph mostly flowers but recently I have started to photograph birds as well.

A Green-crowned Wood Nymph I photographed in Ecuador.

Green-crowned Wood Nymph in Ecuador

5. I started off growing a wide variety of houseplants to help keep my sanity through our long winters. I then moved to a more challenging group, the gesneriads. In the early 1980's a friend introduced me to our local orchid society (alas, the society is now defunct, as most members moved away). However, during the ten years I was in the society, I managed to collect a modest number of orchids. It seemed that Paphiopedilums and the Oncidium alliance did well for me, but my conditions were not sunny or warm enough for Vandaceous and Cattleya alliances. My collection is now about one hundred and fifty plants (mostly Paphiopedilums), many of which have spilled over to the greenhouses at work.

Paphiopedilum callosum..the first slipper orchid I purchased, now 13 years old!

Paphiopedilum callosum

6. Family is very important to me. I keep in close contact with them, despite some of them being located far from where I live. Friendships are also very important.

My heroes are those plant hunters who traveled the world looking for new plants, often at the risk of life and limb. Our current gardens, not to mention orchid collections, would be very scanty if not for their perseverance.

7.My dream someday is to have a heated greenhouse where I can grow my ever-expanding collection...a larger garden would not go amiss either!

I also hope to someday travel to Yunnan to see the spectacular alpines such as Meconopsis, Rhododendrons and Primula that abound in that area.

8. Most of my laughter comes from my partner's witty comments, jokes and sarcastic remarks! I should get them published in a book!

Todd, thank you so much for agreeing to become an interviewee for the Orchid Obsession cubit!!!  We are honored to have you as a member.

Todd also is the admin of the Alpines/Rock Gardening and the Rhododendrons and Azaleas cubits.

Related articles:
alpine house, alpines, beardless iris, birder, gesn, horticulturist, Memorial University of Newfoundland Botanical Garden, NARGS, Newfoundland, orchid, plant breeding, St. John's, The Wildflowers of Fogo Island and Change Islands, Todd Boland

About Kathy Puckett
Kathy is the admin for An Orchid Obsession. She is a speech-language pathologist, a former professional artist, a photographer, and an avid orchid grower. And most of all she likes to learn about the folks she chats with every day on her cubit.

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Comments and discussion:
Subject Thread Starter Last Reply Replies
well done with your interview herbie43 Aug 31, 2010 5:54 PM 3
Paphiopedilum callosum clintbrown Aug 31, 2010 4:35 PM 4
nice interview Ursula Aug 31, 2010 4:34 PM 4
Great interview! plantladylin Aug 31, 2010 4:33 PM 7
Your book looks fascinating! sandnsea2 Aug 30, 2010 4:24 PM 1
Wonderful interview...... PollyK Aug 30, 2010 1:28 PM 2

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