Cattleya Life's Melody

Week 49: March 8, 2021

Cattleya Life's Melody

(C. Magic Melody x C. Circle of Life)

New candidate for this week is this beautiful Cattleya Life's Melody (C. Magic Melody 'SVO' AM/AOS x C. Circle of Life 'Trailblazer' AM/AOS)

Cattleya Life's Melody was registered by Fred Clarke in 2011. This cross has many cattleya species in background, most important are coccinea, briegeri, trianae, mossiae, warscewiczii, dowiana and few other.

Cattleya Circle of Life is one of the most important red cattleyas with 50% of Cattleya coccinea in the background.

I found several pictures of Cattleya Life's Melody on internet (Orchid Roots), most of them have different shades of yellow color, few are light pink.

Previous Awards:

There is one AOS award for this cross - clone 'Peach Cobbler' AM/AOS (87 pts), April 17, 2019.

Cattleya Magic Melody has one AOS award - clone 'Sunset Valley Orchids' AM/AOS (83 pts), May 23, 2009

Cattleya Circle of Life received 18 AOS awards and clone 'Trailblazer' AM/AOS (81 pts) is the first who received award for this cross in Feb 25, 1999.


The candidate plant has 6 flowers on 2 staked inflorescences.

Flower Measurements:

NS H - 11.0 cm; NS V - 10.5 cm;

Dorsal Sep. W - 2.5 cm; Dorsal Sep. L - 5.0 cm;

Petal W - 5.4 cm; Petals L - 5.7 cm;

Lat/Sepal W - 2.5 cm; Lat/Sepal L - 5.0 cm;

Lip/Pouch W - 3.9 cm; Lip/Pouch L - 5.0 cm.

Judges' Comments

Carrie Buchman (Associate Judge, Northeast Judging Center)

Cattleya Life's Melody

(C. Magic Melody 'SVO' AM/AOS x C. Circle of Life 'Trailblazer' AM/AOS)

This flower shows a lot of potential. Flower count and natural spread are what you would expect. The flowers are slightly crowded. The petals are attractively colored, have a good “overlap,” and a nice full round form; but the mid vein on the right petals in o e of the pictures is “off center.” The lip encloses the columns and has a good deep rich WOW coloration. The dorsal sepal is lightly reflexed apically and rolled at the edges. Award pictures of the parents and of the awarded clone to not exhibit this trait. Because of the rolled dorsal, I would not nominate this flower on this blooming.

Kind Regards,

Carrie Buchman

Kristen Mason (Accredited Judge, Cincinnati Judging Center)

Thank you for this beautiful flower. Good flouriferousness. Overall, beautiful color. I love the vibrant red lip with the golden yellow throat with nice consistent shape and presentation on lip. I like the apple green base and lighter central flush on the petals. The apical magenta strip would be lovely if it was consistent from petal to petal, unfortunately it is not, and is several cases make a symmetrical flower look asymmetrical. Flowers are a little on the small side, parts are narrow - especially sepals. Dorsal sepal rolls back at edges. Flowers are not quite as flat as other award or parents. While a very nice flower that I would love to have and enjoy, I would not nominate it for an award on this flowering. Given parents - what is the fragrance like?

Albert Messina (Accredited Judge, Northeast Judging Center)

Six stately, full, flat, well-colored flowers on two nicely staked erect inflorescences. Flowers and segments significantly smaller than the five on two awarded C. Life's Melody 'Peach Cobbler' AM/AOS 87 Points, 2019 April 17. Plant is well grown. Except for color intensification, briegeri influence on lip almost gone after two generations.

An AM flower, in my opinion, in the range of 83-84.

Ginna Plude (Associate Judge, Northeast Judging Center)

C. Life's Melody is a lovely plant and the grower has done a nice job. I like the overall color and the richly colored lip with the golden yellow throat that contrasts the pink petals and sepals. Because of the nature of photographs and computer monitors it is hard to tell how different the color is from the one awarded plant. I'm on the fence as to whether I'd nominated this plant. I feel like I would need to see it in person to make that determination. A couple things that work against nominating the plant for me:

1) Overall the size of the flower and flower segments is significantly smaller than the awarded plant.

2) The dorsal sepals appear to be recurved (the awarded plant appears flat or flatter).

3) The lip on the candidate is richly colored but appears more closed than the awarded plant which hides some of that nice contrasting color that can be seen at some angles.

4) On the one close-up photo the fuchsia stripe along the midline appears to go askew toward the upper margin.

If nominated I would likely point it closer to the HCC/AM line because of this. But again, I think I need to see this plant in person to be sure.

Keith Davis (Keith Davis Orchids, NC)

It is nice to see once again an offspring of Frank Fordyce’s crown jewel, C. Circle of Life. Upon seeing the photo, it is what I would expect other than the color is a throwback to the lavenders in the background. Display is nice, stems are longer than most Circle of Life crosses, but still require staking. The biggest distraction to me is that the color is not something that has much of “wow factor” that I normally expect from COL, although the rosy lavender is nice especially with the lighter centers offering a pleasant contrast.

What I wish to share is some tidbits on Circle Life that I learned from Frank. His first making of COL (registered in ’98) used his awarded coccinea ‘Neon Light’ FCC/AOS 90 pts, March 7, 1992. Frank got a division of this 4N plant from a friend in Japan. After returning home from judging, the plant was placed on the bench and pollen removed. That very night, a rat ate the entire plant. Frank could hold a grudge, especially when it came to negative things happening to his orchids. The next day, upon seeing what became of his ‘Neon Light’, he commenced to crawl around under the benches and checked every crack and crevasse where a rat could hide. After some time, he found the rat and beat it into submission with a hammer. The pollen was used on C. Culminant ‘La Tuilerie’ which is a decent, large flowered lavender bred and registered in France by Maurice Vacherot (1957).

Now, this would not normally be a cross an experienced breeder like Frank would make, especially back when 4N coccinia were very rare and just coming into the hands of breeders. 4N pollen was worth more than gold. During one of our many Sunday evening chats by phone, I quizzed him on his decision to do so. He told me that mating a typical lavender to a rare 4N coccinea certainly would of never entered his mind, except that on a visit to Brazil, he was stunned to see some crosses made by a breeder down there with Culminant. What surprised him was that it appeared Culminant allowed other strong colors to come through and that the progeny when put with other 4N produced what were good breeders. This had to mean that Culminant was a 4N because if it was a 2N and bred with a 4N, the progeny would result in triploids (3N) and essentially be sterile. There are plenty of 4N lavender Cattleyas around, most notable would be Horace ‘Maxima’ and any number of its offspring. But what Frank was told and observed was that Culminant would allow vivid colors to come through in a majority of some of the offspring. This stuck in Frank’s head and he obtained a division of the Culminant to have on hand to try out with something good. The something good was his ‘Neon Light’. Even so, he was still skeptical that brilliant reds would dominate, but as the first plants began to flower, he became a believer. Not every COL is red, but most are. Shades of orange and a couple of lavender exist. What excited Frank about COL is that all are 4N, so breeding on was a given. And breed he did. Frank has passed on now, but use of COL as a parent continues in earnest, worldwide, amongst orchid breeders. It did not take long to recognize the strong 4N ploidy of COL dominates in one particular negative, that being the flower stem length and ability to support the blooms without staking. Breeders have learned that if you hope to have a decent stem, you need to use a parent with a strong history of making a good flower stem. In this week’s subject, it is clear that Fred Clark used the Magic Melody with hopes that the briegeri in grandparent of Tokyo Magic would pass along a long and strong stem. This subject shows a much improved stem over a majority of COL crosses in that the stem allows the blooms to get up over the leaves enough to put on a nice display even if they have to be staked. To me, that is certainly acceptable. Think about how many Phals or Paphs would never get awarded if not for staking. I don’t think any of us have problems with that as long as the staking is done tastefully.

One thing more I would like to mention is that Frank made COL at least 4 more times, each time with different clones of 4N coccinea pollen that his friends in Japan shared with him. Frank sent me boxes of seedlings to grow out for him, both from the COL remakes and crosses made with COL. He was going mad making crosses and wanted to see as many as possible flowers out. I agreed to send him photos, and if he wanted, I sent him pollen back so he could make more crosses. Of all the crosses he sent me, the best one was COL x Hisako Akatsuka. The best clone of Hisako Akatsuka is ‘Volcano Queen’, but Frank used a lesser clone called ‘Hawaii’ since that was all he had at the time. This cross is named Dream Circle and 95 percent of those I bloomed would be mid to high AM, some even FCC. The COL super-intensified the color of the H. Akatsuka to the point it appeared they were glowing from within. The worst crosses I flowered were with yellows. Muddy colors dominated, but they did have good shape. Frank referred to them as beautifully shaped cow pies.

I have attached a photo of Culminant in case any were interested and two clones of Dream Circle and one of his COL that I flowered.

Keith Davis

Lc. Culminant 'La Tuilerie'

Pot. Dream Circle 'Habanero'

Pot. Dream Circle 'Solar Glow'

Slc. Circle of Life ' Top Cat '

Deb Bodei (Associate Judge, Northeast Judging Center)

Thank you for including my comments. What a lovely candidate!

Cattleya Life's Melody (C. Magic Melody 'SVO' AM/AOS x C. Circle of Life 'Trailblazer' AM/AOS)


A great first impression made by flowers full and balanced, yet graceful in form with incredible color of the light pink petals/sepals against the contrast of the deep burgundy of the lip (from Magic Melody). A sister with slightly smaller segments than awarded ‘Peach Cobbler’, but with an additional bloom.

Form is certainly full, flat and round (Circle of Life) yet the gentle margin ruffling is just enough to enhance and not take away from the great shape. I am hard pressed to search for anything but a few small, scorable imperfections in the margins of the petals and sepals. There is a dorsal that is skewed on what looks to be the otherwise best overall flower, but I believe there are others among them to be award photo-worthy. Color is always subjective, but for me this color combination is supreme. Even the arrangement of the blooms works well on the overall display this plant makes.


I would nominate this candidate for a flower award and anticipate a mid-to high AM score.

Thank you,


Sergey Skoropad (Associate Judge, Northeast Judging Center)

Cattleya Life's Melody

Six flowers nicely presented on two inflorescences. Flowers are almost flat (little cupping is acceptable). Arrangement is good. Flower shape is pleasant, good proportions. Size of the flowers a little smaller than awarded clone but I think in the range (compared to the parents).

I found this color is very interesting and pleasant.

I did some research about color and found that flowers of this Cattleya can be from yellow to peach, from light pink to intense purple-pink.

Color of our candidate is intense pink to purple. Red lip created nice contrast with petals and sepals.

Some flowers have little rolled back dorsal (not all, but few), I would take few points out.

Overall, I think flowers are awardable. I would nominate them and score 82-83 AM.



Deb Boersma (Student Judge, Great Lakes Judging Center)

Six well arranged full, round stunning flowers on a healthy plant. The flower has good form, segments sizes are good filling in the flower well, it is flat although it does have a little recurving of the sides of dorsal sepal. Petals and the lip are nicely ruffled. The soft pink lavender colour is very pleasing, very different from both parents. The darker red lip provides a very nice contrast to the lighter coloured petals and sepals. The lip has some nice striations on the interior. The colour of this candidate is also completely different than the ‘Peach Cobbler’ clone awarded the AM.

The natural spread and flower segments are all smaller than the ‘Peach Cobbler’ clone. Is it an improvement compared to parents? I’m not sure I would say that it is an improvement but it is completely different in terms of colouration. I think overall it is award quality. I would score it at an HCC of 77-78, perhaps higher if the dorsal was not recurved and natural spread was flower segment sizes were more in range of the other clone.

Nate DePinto (Student Judge, Northeast Judging Center)

Virtual Judging Week 49: Cattleya Life's Melody (C. Magic Melody x C. Circle of Life)

A very beautiful display with flowers that demand attention. Six full, round flowers are brightly colored and appear velvety in texture. Sepals fill in segments nicely and are broad, petals present themselves flat, frilled and are slightly arching forward. The lip is proportioned nicely compared to the rest of the flower and is arguably the best characteristic of this flower; the lip, appearing velvety in texture, is closed at the base, fully wrapped around the collom and forms a pleasing frilled trumpet with a striking fuchsia picatee. Size is smaller than the previously awarded Cattleya Life's Melody 'Peach Cobbler' AM/AOS (87 points). While the flower size runs smaller than the awarded plant the measurements of this candidate are strikingly proportionate, forming pleasing round flowers. I believe this plant is absolutely a good candidate for a flower quality award. I could see this plant scoring an AM of 84-86 points.

Exhibitor - David and Joan Rosenfeld, NJ

Virtual Award Description

Six eye-catching, full, relatively flat, well-proportioned flowers on two inflorescences presented nicely above clean foliage; sepals lanceolate, white, suffused rose-pink; petals, slightly cupped, white, suffused rose-pink deepens proximally to margin, ruffled; lip deep burgundy, margins evenly ruffled, throat veined deep gold, column white; substance firm, texture matte.

Hybridizer's Comments - Fred Clarke

(Sunset Valley Orchids, CA)

Slc. Circle of Life has excellent flower shape but has a sloppy plant habit weak stem and low flower count, these traits are dominant (known from experience breeding with it), so depending on your breeding objective when breeding with COL those traits need to be offset by a parent with strong stem higher flower count and good shape. Magic Melody (Tokyo Life x Melody Fair) has stem, flower count, shape and a robust up right plant habit perfect to counter act the faults of COL, which it did very effectively as you see in the photos.

Here are the color in play with this grex: Culminant a lavender, coccinea a red, Tokyo Magic a color canceled lavender/yellow, and Melody Fair is a s/a.

So flower color can range across wide range yellow, peach lavender to rose red as you are seeing in the photos.

Slc. Circle of Life x Blc. Magic Melody 'SVO'

Slc. Circle of Life x Lc. Magic Melody

Grower's Advice

Orchid is in a 5 inch plastic pot grown in a fir bark mixture with perlite and charcoal. Grown in Cattleya light around 2500-3000 fc.

Purchased in 2016 from Fred Clarke of Sunset Valley Orchids.