Bloomin’ marvellous! Kew Gardens promise floral feast with orchid festival – in pictures and video

More than 4,000 different types of orchid will be on display at Kew Gardens during their Alluring Orchids festival when it opens tomorrow.

An explosion of colour with pillars, arches and walls adorned with flowers will fill the Princess of Wales conservatory until the festival finishes on March 8.

The festival, the garden’s first of the year, will focus on the pollination of orchids and is centred on a giant hibiscus flower made up of 600 plants in the central pond.

Nick Johnson, one of the horticulturalists responsible for designing the display, told South West Londoner that the display will help people to envision how flowers would look to insects in nature.

“We just wanted to invoke that feeling of wonderment as you come across a new flower for the first time,” he explained.

The central display also features balls made of orchids hanging from the ceiling to represent pollen and model bees made of pinecones, moss and leaves.

The festival will even feature a room bathed in UV light to show the hidden colours and patterns that insects see on plants.

Alluring Orchids takes a year to plan and the task of creating the displays took a team of 20 people four weeks to build – adding up to more than 3,200 man hours.

Kew Gardens orchid festival swl picTOTALLY TROPICAL: The exhibition is a feast for all the senses

Consider that alongside the efforts of a team of horticultural students who will work through the month to maintain the displays, and the importance of this event becomes clear.

With so much commitment involved Nick feels the festival is the perfect event to start the garden’s year.

“All the events we do at Kew Gardens are unique and special,” he said.

“I think this one really kicks off our horticultural year – it really gives a taste of what is to come.”

One of the more valuable types of orchid on display is the Vanda, which originates from the Himalayas and retails at around £35 per plant.

Kew Gardens purple orchid swl pic
PURPLE REIGNS: This would have cost the equivalent of £13,000 in Victorian times

That’s nothing to what it sold at back when it was first discovered in Victorian times, as Nick explained it would sell for a whopping £13,000 per plant.

Kew Garden’s orchid herbarium is the largest in the world, holding more than 400,000 preserved plants from across the world.

One of their most recent additions is an orchid never before recorded by science, taken from jungles in Cambodia riddled with unexploded mines.

Kew Gardens alluring orchids swl pic
HOT HOUSE: Home of the Alluring Orchids exhibition

The as yet unnamed plant is not currently flowering and is being closely monitored by staff at the gardens so will not feature in the festival.

Alongside its normal opening hours, the festival will also include three late-night openings on February 19 and 25 and March 5, with tickets available at

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