Thu, 21 Oct 2021

by Yosley Carrero

HAVANA, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- Orchid gardens have sprung up around Cuba's capital Havana in recent years as their owners believe that caring for the beautiful but high-maintenance flowers helps allay anxiety caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yakelyn Morenillo, 46, and her husband Orestes Arencibia, 51, are among the local pioneers of the pastime, having turned their rooftop in Havana's San Miguel district into an orchid garden some 12 years ago.

Today, their orchid oasis features some 280 different species, but it has not been easy, said Morenillo, who described herself as a "plant lover."

Growing orchids is very time-consuming and demands both horticulture skills and a deep passion, she told Xinhua.

"If you want to be a successful grower, you should take into account important elements such as humidity, sunlight, watering system and soil quality," she said.

"I do this out of love," said Morenillo, adding "it has been a huge challenge."

Cuba has over 300 native species of orchids in diverse habitats, from urban gardens to tropical forests.

Arencibia, who works as a gardener at a nearby state enterprise, said that during the pandemic his family has found in orchids not only a way to get rid of stress but an alternative to increase earnings.

"We grow some plants in clay pots, which are mainly sold to people living in the community," he said.

"Believe me when I tell you orchids make me happy when they are blooming," Arencibia added.

They have joined an orchid gardening club in San Miguel that aims to raise awareness about environmental conservation and the importance of organic gardening.

Over the past few years, the club has held an orchid festival attended by hundreds of plant enthusiasts, gardeners and scientists from around the country.

Club leader Lorenzo Luaces, an agricultural engineer, said it would be great to get laboratory supplies and equipment to do research on orchids.

"Growing plants is something that contributes to improving people's mental health amid the health emergency," he said. "Orchids could be considered a gift of nature."

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