Orchids 2018: an exhibition - how to build an orchid, opens Saturday 10 February

This year, the Garden’s ‘how to build an orchid’ exhibition is going back to basics as it reveals, from the root up, what makes an orchid an orchid.
A botanical print of Phalaenopsis EsmeraldaA botanical print of Phalaenopsis Esmeralda
Orchids 2018: an exhibition - how to build an orchid
Glasshouse Range
10 February - 11 March 2018, 10am - 4.30pm

The orchid family is one of the largest plant families in the world; over 25,000 different species can be found across every continent apart from Antarctica. Orchids are found from the arctic tundra to tropical forests, growing on rocks, in soil, high-up suspended on other plants and even underground. Their exotic nature continues to keep enthusiasts enamoured and enraptured.

Many different species of orchid will be on display in the warmth of the Garden’s Glasshouse Range for Orchids 2018: an exhibition, how to build an orchid.

Visitors will be able to explore and examine the different parts that make up an orchid and understand how each part is crucial to the survival and reproduction of this widely recognisable yet diverse group of plants.

CUBG Glasshouse Supervisor, Alex Summers says: “Each year we choose a theme for our orchid exhibition, and this year we thought it would be great if visitors could leave the Garden really feeling confident they know about the component parts that make up an orchid. We’re literally stripping orchids back to basics by explaining the key parts of what makes an orchid.”

Orchids 2018: an exhibition, how to build an orchid, will focus on the key parts of an orchid’s morphology: the seed, flower, pseudobulb and root.

Alex continues: “Orchids are fascinating plants and there are thousands of different species. Although we will have many different orchids from around the world on display, we will be using the widely recognisable moth orchid or Phalaenopsis to explain the key parts that make up an orchid. For example, we are taking a closer look at their flowers as many have specialised petal, known as the lip, which acts as the main beacon and guide for visiting pollinators - usually this is patterned and very colourful. We all admire orchids for their beauty and colour but by asking the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’, we hope that visitors will see beyond the beauty and understand why an orchid flower looks the way it does or why, for example, some orchids’ roots have a spongy layer and aren’t growing in soil.”

Each house within the Garden’s Glasshouse Range will present one part of the orchid. Large information boards will describe the role of each orchid part, and each house will be filled with different species of orchid from around the world. There will also be a giant,’exploded’ model of an orchid flower suspended over the Glasshouse pool, breaking it up into the individual flower parts.

Alex continues: “We spend months planning the exhibition and weeks behind-the-scenes getting everything ready. We’ve nurtured and grown many of the orchids on display and it’s always a challenge to get them in flower and looking their best for this month long exhibition. We hope visitors will really understand how orchids are built and see firsthand what a diverse family it is - from the long-spurred Angraecum orchid pollinated by moths with super long tongues, to orchids that trick and trap their pollinators, to those which develop specialised structures to enable them to grow on trees and absorb water from the air. There really is an orchid built to fascinate everyone!”

Publication Date