It’s at this time of year where our household orchids come to bud, reminding us that it’s that time of year again; the Orchid Festival at Kew Gardens. The orchid festival at Kew Gardens is now in its 22nd year and is something we look forward to doing year after year. Having a Friends of Kew membership makes our regular visit much more affordable, allowing us to treat ourselves to a pub lunch.
The excitement was building as we entered the familiar steamed glass of Kew Gardens’ Princess of Wales Conservatory. This year we were promised:
- A specially commissioned Indian street soundscape – 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. I must admit we completely missed this so can’t report back.
- Vibrant floral extravaganza inspired by an Indian market – This visual feast of colour will also feature elaborate floral displays inspired by a typical Indian market, including Kew’s own decorative rickshaws. Elaborate wouldn’t have been a word that I would have chosen. The cart was rather cute with its mini pineapples and chrysanthemums but we were here for an Orchid Festival and thought they could have done more with that.
- Life-sized animal figures including an elephant, peacock and monkey – A giant Indian flag created from 900 chrysanthemums will set the backdrop as visitors admire life-sized animal figures including an elephant, peacock and monkey. I had a little trouble finding this backdrop as it was hidden away but sure enough it was there a rather underwhelming. There was so much scope for this.
The Phalaenopsis drops hanging from the ceiling are always impressive as are the individual flowers. I must admit we failed to be swept up into the ‘vibrant floral extravaganza inspired by an Indian market’. The sari material wrapped round an otherwise ignored tree trunk added a drop rather than a splash of colour.
The pond display features floral arrangement made up of Vanda, Dendrobium, Cymbidium and Paphiopedilum orchids, combining traditional and modern Indian culture.
The key to enjoying an event like this is is to not believe the hype and the glossy posters brightening up the London underground. You realise your own experiences. And yes, we thought this year’s event was less impactful than previous year and dare I say it felt it was done on the cheap. Kew Gardens itself, with it’s wide variety of plants is an enjoyable space to enjoy regardless of the seasonal attractions. It’s become a bit of tradition that we leave Kew Gardens Orchid Festival with a new orchid and that’s exactly what we did, this time, a beautiful purple and green one which has a distinctive scent.
It’s no surprise that I have written about visiting Kew Gardens before. You may enjoy:
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