Our Founders

John Laycock

Born in 1887 in Lancashire, England, John Laycock came to Singapore in 1920. He was not only an eminent lawyer and orchid hobbyist, but was equally famous as a political figure.

Mr Laycock was the founder member of the Malayan Orchid Society (now known as Orchid Society of South East Asia) in 1928 and was its first President and for many years a Patron of the Society.

Known amongst orchid lovers as Uncle John, he was a keen collector of orchid species from many parts of the world which he shared generously with the Botanic Gardens. Making use of these species he made many primary crosses and sent the seeds to Mr Eric Holttum at the Gardens for germination.

The year 1940 saw the first flowering of an Arachnis hybrid made by John Laycock, Arachnis Maggie Oei, which dominated the orchid cut-flower market for the next 30 years.

Professor Richard Eric Holttum

Born on 20th July 1895 in Cambridge-shire, England, Eric Holttum arrived in Singapore in 1922 to take up his appointment as Assistant Director of the then Gardens Department, Straits Settlements. He became Director in 1926.

Holttum spent well over 32 years of his working career in Singapore. He was an outstanding botanist and horticulturist, and became President of Singapore Gardening Society when it was established in 1936.

A prolific writer, he is best remembered for three books:

  • Gardening in the Lowlands of Malaya
  • Flora of Malaya Vol 1 – Orchids
  • Flora of Malaya Vol 2 – Ferns

R.E. Holttum celebrated his 80th birthday at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, on 30th July 1975.

Emile Galistan

Born in 1881 in Johore, Malaysia, but domiciled in Singapore, Emile Galistan was educated at the St Joseph’s Institution.

Galistan owned an extensive collection of orchids and was master at growing them, and he freely shared his knowledge of growing orchids with his regular contributions of articles to the Malayan Orchid Review, the journal of the Malayan Orchid Society that was founded in 1931. He was elected an honorary member of the Society in 1958.

Emile Galistan was married to Hilda Choppard after whom Aranda Hilda Galistan was named. They had a son and two daughters.



We welcome and include members with a wide range of orchid growing knowledge & experience. Members range from beginners to expert, professional growers.

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