The Spring Orchid Show at Kew Gardens started last Saturday and will continue until the 9th March – a great celebration of exotic and colourful blooms in the tropical splendour of the Princess of Wales Conservatory.
I’ve had a fascination with orchids since working for two years in Papua New Guinea with “Voluntary Service Overseas”. An elderly nun, at the school where I taught, spent her spare hours tending to orchids in coconut husks suspended from trees. How I wish I had taken more of an interest from someone who had a lifetime of experience.
My knowledge of growing orchids is limited by comparison but, in the spirit of Kew, this is simply a celebration of the symmetry, colour and beauty of orchids.
Moth orchids. (Phalaenopsis)
This is the type most commonly sold in stores; most are unnamed hybrids. Beautiful and easy to grow with long-lasting flowers; they prefer some humidity and an east or west facing windowsill. Looking at their form, it’s easy to understand why they are compared to a floating moth.
Boat orchids (Cymbidium)
The name is derived from kumbos, meaning hole or cavity and refers to the lip at the base of the orchid. Boat orchids come in a fabulous array of colours and have very decorative flower spikes.
Slipper orchids (Paphiopedilum)
These are a little more unusual with interesting flowers, sometimes mottled.
The delicate exotic beauty of Orchids conjures up tropical locations, even though they are found in widespread habitats.
For me they will always be associated with my first introduction to them in Papua New Guinea.