Horticulturalists make the final adjustments to the displays at Kew Gardens. This installation is the centrepiece, representing a Costa Rican sunrise.
The Central American country is the inspiration for this year’s orchid festival. It is home to around 1,600 types of orchid. And organisers say this is the perfect time to celebrate that biodiversity, with over 5,000 blooms on display.
This is the 26th annual orchid festival to be held at Kew. 2021’s event was cancelled due to coronavirus restrictions in the UK. But normally, planning for the next year starts as soon as the last one is finished. Then there’s an intense few weeks as the team puts the display together.
There are around 28,000 species of orchids in the world. They grow on every landmass except Antarctica. Around 70 percent of them grow on trees. The smallest are only 3 millimetres high, while some can grow to 20 metres.
Despite covering just 0.03 percent of the planet, the country is home to 6 percent of the world’s flora and fauna species. There’s also the resplendent quetzal, a bird with spectacular plumage that lives in the cloud forest.
The festival has an environmental message too. Scientists from Kew Gardens work with groups in Costa Rica to protect its precious wildlife. Orchids are particularly vulnerable.
They are threatened by deforestation and by people removing them from their native habitats for their personal collections, medical uses and food. The orchid festival opens on February 5 and runs until March 6 2022. It is being held in the Princess of Wales Conservatory.