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.
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.