Chase away the winter blues and travel to India this month as the 22nd annual Orchids Festival gets under way at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in London.
Orchids Festival - Kew Gardens
The sounds of India surround visitors to the steamy tropical glasshouse from the moment they walk in: a giant Indian flag is being created from 900 chrysanthemums, with life-sized animal figures including an elephant, peacock and monkey.
But the stars of the show are, of course, the orchids themselves; Phalaenopsis (moth orchids) hang delicately from the ceiling, and delicate Vanda orchids decorate a traditional Indian marriage swing. The pond display explodes with intense colour from multiple varieties including Dendrobium, Cymbidium and Paphiopedilum.
Royal Botanic Gardens
There’s a guided tour behind the scenes of the Orchid Nursery, plus Indian block painting, Bodhi leaf colouring and Mandala design. See www.kew.org for details. Create your own mini orchid extravaganza once you get home with a selection of the gorgeous orchids you can buy here at the garden centre at Chepstow. Orchids may look exotic but they’re easy to care for as long as you give them the right conditions: a warm room, indirect light, tepid water and regular doses of specialist orchid fertiliser will keep them flowering for month after month.