Isobyl la Croix
Get to know me
I did an honours degree in Botany at the University of Edinburgh, then I worked at Aberdeen University as Assistant Lecturer in Agriculture and Recorder in Crop Husbandry. Much of my time seemed to be spent crawling around fields identifying grasses by their leaves, an occupation that may well have been a useful talent in later years for identifying small, green habenarias. After two years I married Eric, an entomologist, and we spent four years in northern Ghana, where he worked on transmission of sleeping sickness, followed by three years on the Kenya coast. I did do some orchid-hunting there, but with three small children I was rather constrained. We returned to Britain for about 15 years, largely for the children’s education, living latterly in Dorking. Then Eric got a job with the Overseas Development Administration, on loan to the Malawi government. This was originally for two years but it ended up as ten! Our youngest son was now 12, so he came with us and went to school in Malawi. Soon every weekend was spent orchid-hunting and bird-watching. We’ve also surveyed orchids in Congo Republic, and hunted for them in Zimbabwe, Swaziland and South Africa, so have covered quite a lot of the African continent. After returning to live in this country for the second (and final) time, I was asked to write the two volumes on Orchidaceae for Flora Zambesiaca for Kew; volume 1 was published in 1995 and volume 2 in 1998. During this time I also started a small mail- order orchid nursery, Uzumara Orchids, selling young seed-grown plants of species from Africa and Madagascar. This lasted for about 12 years; I stopped for a combination of reasons. The eyesight of the friend who sowed the seed for me deteriorated, the heating system in my greenhouse gave up the ghost, and it all took up too much time. By now I was editor of The Orchid Review, which I did for nine years, and working on the New Encyclopedia of Orchids for Timber Press. I have been a member of the OSGB for many years – it was recommended to me by Joyce Stewart – and although I was not able to attend meetings, I met members at the London Orchid Show, which I attended every year when I was editing The Orchid Review in the hope of persuading more people to subscribe. I also had the pleasure of going with a group of the OSGB to the 18 th WOC in Dijon in 2005; I have many happy and entertaining memories of that trip!