Trainee blogpost: behind-the-scenes of Orchids 2017

It’s been a hectic month for all our trainees during the Garden's annual Orchid event - Orchids 2017. Trainee Robyn Young explains how it's been all hands on deck to make sure the collections in the Glasshouse Range look even more fantastic than usual!

February 2017

The event this year - Orchids 2017 - takes the theme of ‘Another India,’ tying in with the 70th anniversary of Indian independence.

One way or another, we were all roped in to make sure Orchids 2017 was a success! Will Greenfield and Rob Bradshaw helped to assemble the moss balls that hang from the ceiling of the Glasshouse corridor, all of them studded with beautiful orchids. It took several days to soak the moss through and stuff it into two hanging baskets that were then carefully attached to form a perfect sphere. And all under the beady eyes of the Glasshouse team Alex Summers and Alan Langley – no pressure guys!

Barbara Griffith had to keep a steady hand, as she was responsible for writing all of the beautiful signs that give our visitors little snippets of extra information about particular parts of India, or plants from that region. For example, did you know that the bark and unripe fruit from the Malabar ebony tree (Diospyrus malabarica) is used for medicinal purposes by followers of Ayurveda?

I was involved in painting a replica of a beautiful pithora, that greets you as you enter the eastern end of the tropical house. Traditionally painted by the Bhilala and Rathwa peoples from the Gujurat region of India, they can be used alongside ritual practices to solve any problems. The paintings might feature scenes of daily life, as well as minor gods and ancestors. Along with the Systematics assistant Julie Clos and fellow trainees Brie Langley and Tobey Warren, it took us almost a month to complete the painting from initially tracing it out to filling it with colour.

As you enter the Glasshouse Range to enjoy looking at our fabulous collection of orchids, the gorgeous scent from the Zygopetalum orchids wafts through the air, definitely one of my favourites. And don’t miss the miniature orchid nestling next to the pithora, small but perfectly formed! Helping to put this event together has been a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the horticulture behind growing these fascinating plants, debunking some of the myths about how ‘difficult’ they are to grow, as well as learning about their unique flower structure. I’ve definitely been inspired to try growing some of my own!

Robyn Young
Horticultural Trainee

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