This February, visitors can become immersed in an Indian celebration of vibrant colours, culture and magnificent plant life inside the tropical paradise of Kew Gardens’ Princess of Wales Conservatory during its 22nd annual Orchids Festival.
As well as the usual visual displays, the sounds of India will surround visitors entering the glasshouse. From the tones of milkmen’s bicycle bells and newspaper boys, to the playful voices of school children, temple bells, and muezzin calls, the Indian street will be brought to life. This visual feast of colour will also feature elaborate floral displays inspired by a typical Indian market, including Kew’s own decorative rickshaws. An infographic map will transport the visitor from the dreary British winter to the vibrancy and colour of India. The map, created by Tonwen Jones, includes drawings of India’s natural vegetation and landscapes.
A giant Indian flag created from 900 chrysanthemums will set the backdrop. Phalaenopsis drops will hang delicately from the ceiling, while a traditional Indian marriage swing sways amongst the Vandas, with sari material adding an extra splash of colour. This year’s pond display will explode in a larger than life floral arrangement made up of Vanda, Dendrobium, Cymbidium and Paphiopedilum orchids, marrying traditional and modern culture.
Elisa Biondi, Princess of Wales Conservatory Supervisor, RBG Kew said, “This year’s Orchids festival will immerse visitors in the sights, senses and sounds of India’s exotic and vibrant culture creating an explosion of unique and colourful beauty. We hope this journey will highlight the significance of plants in all walks of life, from the spiritual and medicinal to the textiles and cuisine, all the while showing the importance of plant diversity and Kew’s work to protect, conserve and study plants.”
Entrance to the Festival will be free and included in the daily entrance ticket. 2017 is also the year the UK and India will celebrate a major bilateral year of cultural exchange presented by the British Council.
Join Kew horticulturists and scientists for a series of talks exploring some Kew Science field trips to India, how the horticulture team built the magnificent displays, the diversity of the Indian Orchid and what plants are used in traditional Indian cuisine, as well Kew’s important conservation work around the world.
Festival Tours and Hands on Sessions…
ake part in behind the scenes tours of the Orchid Nursery highlighting Kew’s vast collection and showcasing how rarer orchids are nurtured and cared for. Tours take place at 1.30pm and 2.15pm on the 9, 16, and 23 February and 2 March. Tours are £10 per person and booking is recommended.
Behind the scenes tours of Kew’s Tropical Nursery will open up the array of beautiful and fascinating carnivorous plants, bromeliads and cacti, as well as showcasing Kew’s conservation work. Tours take place at 1.30pm and 2.15pm on the 11, 18, and 25 February and 4 March. Tours are £10 per person and booking is recommended.
Hands on sessions will delight and educate the young and the old on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout the festival from 11am – 1pm in the Princess of Wales Conservatory.
February Half Term Festival Activities…
Bring the kids along for a colourful cultural feast during half-term with Indian block painting, Bodhi leaf colouring and Mandala design colouring, with designs inspired by Kew’s own Princess of Wales Conservatory, taking place between 11am – 3.30pm in the Princess of Wales Conservatory.
Become an expert and learn how to grow exotic Orchids at home, glean advice on the best type to grow and how to ensure they thrive. A day course will be held onTuesday 21 February, 10.30 to 15.30 in Kew’s Jodrell Lecture Theatre. Bookings can be placed at www.kew.org/learn or email email@example.com. Tickets are £70 per adult or £60 for members / concessions.
Stop alongside the pop-up shop in the Princess of Wales Conservatory and treat yourself to a range of products to complement the Orchid festival experience, including scarves, jewellery, framed prints, bags, planters, and much more. Orchid plants will also be on sale.
Indian delights will be offered during the festival at any of the onsite catering stops, these treats include: carrot halwa tart, Indian semolina and green cardamom cake, Goan trout, Shahi kofta and achari vegetables, and a spiced afternoon tea. Visitors can also try a special recipe, Chaaval Ki Kheer (spiced rice pudding) designed by famous Indian chef and cookbook author Monisha Bharadwaj.
Film: A Bouquet from Bengal…
Head to the Princess of Wales film to watch ‘A Bouquet from Bengal’’ , a film showcasing the uses of flowers and plants in everyday life in India, from the medicinal uses of local grown herbs and flora to the function of orchids in Indian cultural and scared customs. The film captures both traditional and contemporary manifestations of floral and plant life focusing primarily on the city of Kolkata. The film will be available for viewing Monday 6 February to Friday 10 February; Monday 20 February to Friday 24 Februaryand Monday 27 February to Friday 03 March.
Two Orchids books will be published by Kew during the festival for plant enthusiasts;
– Orchids, a cultural history by Jim Endersby
– The book of Orchids by Mark Fay and Maarten Christenhusz
In addition visitors will be able to pick up a ‘caring for your Orchids’ leaflet which will describe how to choose an orchid, care for an orchid and how to grow orchid seedlings.
More about the Festival– http://www.kew.org/visit-kew-gardens/whats-on/orchids