Pictures of the floating world

Kew Gardens: Orchids 2022 Costa Rica

Orchids festival returned to Kew Gardens this year.

By Anna Purpurpurpur

This year, the annual Orchids exhibition returned to London, Kew Gardens, after a gap caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. It took place in February – March, and I was lucky to visit it right before its closure. 

Fantastic tropical display landed at the Princess of Wales Conservatory, a fantastic greenhouse known for its succulents, carnivore plants and orchids, of course. And did you know that Kew’s collection of orchids might be the oldest in the world?

The festive exhibition celebrated Costa Rica’s biodiversity, bright colours and vibrant flora. Why Costa Rica? Well, this country is home to over 1600 different species orchids, can you believe that number! Also the scientists from Jardín Botánico Lankester, in Cartago, Costa Rica, are conducting the genetic studies of those plants in collaboration with Kew Garden.

And  – you’ll be surprised – the fauna is present too! Fantastic displays showcased different animals and birds native to Costa Rica in their natural environment. Those included two species of sloth, four species of sea turtles, Honduran white bat, snakes, jaguar, monkeys and quetzal, a gorgeous brightly feathered bird native to Central America, and sadly the golden toad that has been last seen in 1989 and was declared extinct in 2001.

And of course, the orchids were carefully arranged into the lavish tropical displays making the space look more like paradise with a pond at the centre. Among them all Guarianthe skinneri, a vivid pink orchid, a national flower of Costa Rica, had a special place.

Kew Gardens Fact: did you know that although Costa Rica takes only 0.03% of the Earth’s surface it is home to 6% of the world’s biodiversity?

The festival route passed through different levels allowing you to see the displays from different angles and also to promptly transport geographically from one area of the country to another. Those areas include for instance Pacific coast, Caribbean coast, Cloud forests and their hidden treasures. That organisation of the itinerary lets you avoid the crowds as well. 

The exhibition ends with a shop. After-dark access was accompanied by traditional Costa Rica food like chorreadas, grilled plantain and marinated beef rump, beverages including coffee from Costa Rica and music making the experience fully immense. And of course, the Kew Gardens are a delight to visit in spring!
By the way, check my blogs about the Japanese trail in Kew and my shoot there!

Hope you enjoyed my blog,

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