24 Apr 2020

Time to Bloom

From Country Life, 9:28 pm on 24 April 2020

Orchid-grower Eva Yin came to New Zealand as an international student from China 14 years ago. She arrived with just a suitcase and a desire to do something different.

Now she cultivates thousands of orchids for the local market from her 1000m2 greenhouse near Otaki.

Eva Yin amid orchids set to bloom this winter at her greenhouse near Otaki

Eva Yin amid orchids set to bloom this winter at her greenhouse near Otaki Photo: RNZ/Sally Round

Eva says it's "heaven" to have flowers to sell in the winter.

She's in her greenhouse getting ready for her cymbidium orchids, just spikes at the moment, to unfurl to reveal rich purples, fiery oranges and dramatic reds.

Eva arrived in New Zealand in 2006, escaping a stressful life in Beijing.

She's originally from Weihai on China's north-east coast and was keen to get away from the concrete of the city and explore further afield.

"I was a city girl.

"I guess I've always wanted to get out into the big world and have a different experience."

While studying horticulture in Auckland, she got a job in an orchid nursery and became enthralled with the plants.

After buying a rundown operation in Waikanae, she now sells wholesale to garden centres as well as at local fairs.

It was incredibly hard work in the early years, she says, living in a garage, and working at night and at weekends in the local supermarket to be able to bring the business back to life.

Eva mainly grows cooler climate orchids and creates her own hybrids by pollinating the flowers, harvesting the seed pods and sending them to a lab for germination and incubation, a process which can take several months.

Her experiments demand patience. It takes five years from the time of pollination for the flower to be revealed.

Eva runs the business with a part-time employee and predator bugs to control pests in her greenhouse.

Wasps lay their eggs in the aphids and eat them inside out, like "thousands of little soldiers" helping her, she says.

"In China, everything is very competitive," Eva says.

"New Zealand is  a very good country ... if you want to do something and you try hard, you get a reward out of it."