A 'young' Hawke's Bay orchid grower has managed to stand tall above the competition taking out best in show at the New Zealand's National Orchid Expo.

Thomas Petrie managed to beat some of the country's leading orchid growers and secure top spot at the national competition with his slipper orchid called "Jacqui's Dream".

The three-day event, which was held at Fly Palmy Arena in Palmerston North from September 19-22, attracted almost 2500 people, many hobbyists and flower lovers.

The show takes place every 4-5 years and is the most prestigious event on orchid growers' calendars with 50 judges coming in from all over the globe to pick their favourite.

Advertisement

Petrie was over the moon to secure top spot even though he is the youngest competitor, at age 35, in an ageing game.

"I'm somewhat a young man in the orchid game in New Zealand so to take top spot amongst a group of competitors who have been doing it for years is a great feeling that I'm doing something right," he said.

Thomas Petrie won top spot at the national competition with his slipper orchid called
Thomas Petrie won top spot at the national competition with his slipper orchid called "Jacqui's Dream". Photo / Supplied

Australian judge Scott Barrie said many of the 50 judges' favourites were flowers "only their mothers could love" rather than what would be considered a florist's choice.

Part of the fascination for judges with Petrie's plant was the flower's ability to adapt and mimic the bugs they needed for pollination, a feature of which was its drooping petals.

Petrie has been involved in plants for a lot of his life, having studied and worked in horticulture and making that into a hobby of his own where he now grows slipper orchids.

"I have a full set up of greenhouse and temperature controls to get the best out of my plants," Petrie said.

When it comes to what makes a prize orchid, Petrie says it comes down to 'the eye of the beholder' as most general orchids aren't always considered the prizewinner.

"There's many factors in what makes a prized orchid and for judges they aren't just looking at the flower but the health of the plant and the features of the plant itself and not just the flower," Petrie said.

Advertisement

For the Hawke's Bay Orchid Society member, he says he loves doing these shows because it's a way to show some of his work but also a way to try and spark some interest.

"It's a great way to show something different to people and try and spark some interest in what we do because it's not necessarily something people tend to get involved in anymore."