Rupert Hohwieler 19/01/23
There are an estimated 28,000 different species of orchid in the world.
Which, for a little context, is four times the number of mammal species.
And while you won’t see quite all of them at Kew Gardens’ new floral festival, they’ve done a pretty good job of amassing as many as possible to create a breathtaking miniature rainforest in their Princess of Wales Conservatory.
Each year the festival brings a beautiful part of the world to the conservatory with Costa Rica and Indonesia recently getting the opportunity to strut their stuff, and for 2023 it’s Cameroon’s turn to show off its incredible natural landscape. The West African nation has quite the range of flora at its disposal: its hot and humid climate has led to the highest diversity of plants in tropical Africa, with at least 23 species of orchid native to the country (and being among the rarest on earth, to the extent that their locations are hidden for protection’s sake).
Since 2004, Kew has been working on a project to preserve threatened plant life in the Ebo Forest (one of Cameroon’s biggest rainforests) and you’ll be able to catch some of what they care for on display at the festival. Cameroon’s also home to tons of fauna (animals) – giraffes, lions, gorillas, hippos, you name it – and while those physically haven’t made the trip to the conservatory (for that, there’s always the ZSL London Zoo), Kew has managed to reimagine them through a series of eye-catching floral arrangements and sculptures.
And the orchids aren’t the only things from Cameroon that Kew has in store for the festival. There’ll also be a photography exhibition from the Bikoka Art project, an initiative who have snapped stunning scenery pics from Lolodorf (a small town in the south of Cameroon), plus a selection of dishes from Cameroonian chef Carine Ottou in Kew’s cafes and restaurants that will express the country’s vibrant flavours and ingredients.
The lates will be making a return, too. So you can walk around the grand Victorian conservatory at night while it’s all lit up, with performances, cocktails and cooking demonstrations on the side.
It sheds a whole new light on the display…
NOTE: Orchids at Kew runs from 4th February – 5th March. Tickets are included with entry to the gardens, which is £16.50, while tickets to the After Hours events are £17. You can find out more, and book, HERE.
Orchids | Kew Gardens, TW9 3AE
Love nature? Then you might also enjoy a walk around one of the best parks in London…
Kew Gardens, Kew, TW9 3AE
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