A tropical plant lover from Sheen is the brains behind stunning Kew Gardens Orchid Festival

By Tess Colley
February 18 2020, 14.35

A Sheen plant lover is behind the design of the Kew Gardens Orchid Festival 2020. 

Kew conservatories manager Scott Taylor, threw his creative brains behind the Indonesian themed orchid display currently on show in the Princess of Wales Conservatory at the famous botanical gardens.

The display required the work of 20 staff members and 100 volunteers, and features a plant-covered volcano, life-sized models of a rhino, tiger and orangutan, and a cross-section of the 4,000 species of orchid found in Indonesia. 

MAGMA-NIFICENT: A volcano made from tropical plants at Kew Orchid Festival

Mr Taylor said: “I love creating a feeling with people. You can create a garden, but if no one sees it what’s the point?”

Mr Taylor began working at Kew Gardens in 2005, but found his way into horticulture when he once gave his mother a tropical plant as a gift.  

When she told him he would have to take care of it himself, he bought himself a book on horticulture, and the rest was history. 

He said that the same red flower now features on top of the erupting volcano centre piece in the display. 

Richard Barley, Kew director of horticulture, learning and operations, said: “Indonesia’s amazing biological and cultural richness is a constant allure for tourists, but has also been of scientific interest for hundreds of years.”

He said that visits to Kew Gardens have doubled over the past five years and attributed this to a rise in awareness about climate change, adding that environmentally themed shows attract high numbers to Kew. 

The team at the botanical gardens worked closely with the Indonesian Embassy in London to ensure that the cultural notes and displays which accompany the festival remained authentic.  

Mr Barley said without the embassy’s input, Kew would have risked a tokenistic representation of Indonesian culture.

Speaking at a reception for the festival, Rizal Sukma Indonesian Ambassador to the UK said: “This is the first time I’ve seen so many types of orchid which aren’t just red, white, and pink.” 

During the festival there are special out of hours evening events, including Indonesian performances, food demonstrations and expert talks.

There is also a Quest for the Blue Orchid event for the half-term holiday week (February 15 – 23).

Entry to the orchid festival is included in the standard ticket to Kew Gardens, but you must book a timed ticket slot online in advance.

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