24 February 2013

Orchids at Kew Gardens (2013)

Kew Gardens are worth visiting at any time of the year as the seasons ebb and flow and there are few set events in the calendar.

The notable exception is the orchid event that runs through February each year. This fills the Princess of Wales Conservatory with exotic flowers and hordes of people taking photos of them. People like me.

The orchids are arranged in large bunches, in hanging baskets, in columns, in planters and in the beds. Some of this is clearly artificial, that is the orchids are not growing in their natural state. This may be unusual for Kew but is what you expect at, say, the Chelsea Flower Show.where planted and arranged flowers mingle beautifully.

The Princess of Wales Conservatory has no obvious path through it, unlike the other main greenhouses which are long and thin, so exploration involves a lot of decision making, a few repeated steps and the constant nagging fear that you have missed something and that what you missed was the best bit.

The richness of the flowers can be a little daunting. The constant bright colouring is such a contrast from the subdued woodlands that characterise most of Kew Gardens.

Orchids tend to favour white with touches of soft reds, such as pink and lilac. This brighter red and yellow example is unusual, which is why I chose to include it.

The large displays of flowers are impressive but the detail of the individual flowers is more so. That is why all my photos this time are of close ups whereas almost all of the photos in my other posts try to capture the sweep of the landscapes.

The density of the displays also makes it a slow journey around the greenhouse. Each step is a new opportunity to pause and take a photo.

This is in marked contrast to my normal visits where one of the aims is to get some brisk walking done.

I also usually try to keep away from the busier parts of the gardens and the busier paths between them but when the orchids are on display there is no alternative to mingling with the masses. This is inconvenient rather than unpleasant and it can take some time for the people to clear from that special view. In pictures of gardens people are just clutter.

I prefer wild natural Kew to formal arranged Kew but if it has to put on a display of flowers then a greenhouse full of orchids is the way to do it.

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