October 1, 2023

Ex fire chief sets garden ablaze – with colour!

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Ever since retiring from the fire service in 2005 as Cayman’s top fireman, Kirkland Nixon has been attending to very different kinds of ‘flame,” – the beautiful and delicate flowers of orchids which grow in his shade-house in Savannah.

“My first encounter with orchids was through my wife; she had brought quite a number in Jamaica. She was planning to decorate our house, which was brand new then- this was about 1983. She brought the orchids outside and said: ‘You’ve got to take care of these,” he recalled.

“Well they were so beautiful, and I knew a lady who grew orchids – Miss Joyce Hilton. She took me into her orchid house and showed me how to grow them.

Miss Hilton was President of the Cayman Orchid Society at that time and encouraged Mr. Nixon to join too. Since then he has been very active in the Society, and has been President himself on two separate occasions.

Explaining how he got the orchid ‘bug,’ Mr. Nixon said: “Orchids are a peculiar type of plant that captivate your imagination, because the flowers are just astonishing.

“When you consider the size of the plant compared to the amount of flowers that you get from it: a little plant of ten ounces has a huge flower-spike on it and they last for months, so they’ve become very popular, and are affordable, too.

“What made orchids so mysterious before was the cost, but now they are a supermarket item.

“I have a lot of different varieties – but I have mostly the warm – growing kind. We are lucky in that we have a climate that is adaptable for a wide variety of orchids.

“There’s some 35,000 different species of orchid, and when you consider that they can all breed with one another, imagine – it just boggles the mind,” he said.

“Its hard to explain the fascination. A friend of mine claims that orchids are smarter than we are because what they’ve done is they’ve posed themselves in such a way that human beings have become addicted to them. We nurture them, and propagate them so they will continue to thrive. They definitely have some kind of affinity with human beings – it’s hard to explain, but there’s a connection.

“I don’t know how to describe the fragrances, they are so divine, they’re just beautiful, you know? And the colours – they’re just unbelievable.”

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