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Endangered orchids

If we hear that an item is rare – be it a jewel, or an item of clothing, or a plant – the very idea that there is limited stock of whatever it is available can send our minds into overdrive, just knowing that there is a restricted quantity of the product in question in existence, can fervently increase our desire to own the item – we don’t want to miss out after all! 

Plant Heritage are a plant conservation charity, based in Guildford, that encourage horticulturists, botanists, and gardeners to grow, propagate, share, and conserve a wide range of plants to protect and safeguard the variety of plants we have available to grow and enjoy.  This year, Plant Heritage are celebrating their 40th anniversary, so to mark the occasion they asked garden designer Jackie Currie to create an exhibit for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018, to publicise the value of Plant Heritage’s work.

Through my work I have become very well acquainted with so many fascinating plants, but I have also enjoyed getting to know some interesting people, many of whom I have met at the different gardens I have visited.  I hold a deep affection for the Royal Botanical Gardens Kew, I am a great fan and supporter of Kew’s work in conservation and plant science, and I love to visit the beautiful glasshouses and gardens at Kew; Kew’s plant collections amaze and delight me! 

The Temperate House is the world’s largest surviving Victorian glasshouse!  This substantial glasshouse is sited at the Royal Botanical Gardens Kew, which itself is a National Treasure and an UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The Temperate House is a Grade I Listed Building.  When this glasshouse’s refurbishment programme commenced work in 2013, the Temperate House was in a dilapidated condition, at this time the Temperate House was on English Heritage’s Buildings at Risk Register.

I visited the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew in August 2013, just before the planned Temperate House refurbishment programme began and this Victorian glasshouse, with its shabby chic but regal splendour was closed to the public.  I watched nervously as Kew staff wheeled containers and decorative, heavy looking display items out of the glasshouse.  Back in 2013, the planned reopening date seemed so far into the future, 2018 sounded somewhat space age then, but now, here I am delivered safely to this date, with the good fortune to be here at Kew to see the Temperate House on the day of its reopening! 

It may surprise you to know that in the garden, as well as on the catwalk, fashions change and evolve, often quicker than we expect.  A plant that’s regarded as a ‘must have’ plant one minute, can soon be taken for granted and neglected, before being cast aside to make way for the latest modern plant introductions, when the superseded ‘must have’ plant is then at risk of being forgotten, often within a shorter time period than you might anticipate. 

When I was a child, it was my aim that by the time I became an adult I would have saved up sufficient funds to purchase, and forever after protect a beautiful woodland or forest, and at least one meadow!  I haven’t succeeded in my aim – I sadly have been unable to protect any of our woodlands, forests, or meadows, but I still feel just as passionately about plant conservation. 

I love growing Restrepias!  Restrepias are elegant and strikingly beautiful orchids, which despite their exotic appearance are easy to grow.  For me Restrepias bring a sense of wonderment and awe as each of their exquisite blooms open.

I have grown a variety of different Restrepia species inside my BiOrbAir terrariums, these miniature epiphytic orchids have flourished inside the humid environment that this specialised terrarium provides.  

I am so very lucky to have a beautiful, new BiOrbAir terrarium!

I decided to plant up this very special terrarium with orchids that are endemic to Madagascar, to highlight and raise awareness of the fragility of this very special place on Earth, and showcase the beauty of Madagascar’s plants.  Many of the orchids that are found growing in Madagascar are not found anywhere else on Earth.

Madagascar is an amazing island that’s situated off the South East coast of Africa.  Madagascar is a special place, it’s is home to a large number of interesting and amazing orchids, many of which are only found in this one special area of our planet.

In order to highlight the beauty of Madagascan orchids – and to raise awareness of the fragility of their home environment – I have planted a specialised, automated BiOrbAir terrarium from BiOrb with orchids that are endemic to Madagascar.  

Teacher Simon Pugh-Jones started the Writhlington Orchid Project over twenty-five years ago.  This amazing project has given students at the Writhlington School the opportunity to learn more about the science of growing orchids, providing the students with hands on experience of maintaining, propagating and extending, the Writhlington Orchid Project’s orchid collection.

The students working on the Writhlington Orchid Project have been given some amazing opportunities, from experiencing the beautiful, natural habitats where the orchids they grow are found naturally in the wild, to setting up orchid labs in Rwanda, Laos, and Sikkim, where the students and staff, share and pass on their orchid expertise with schools in each locality through talks and workshops, to learning about orchid conservation, to creating award-winning exhibits and displays for RHS flower shows.

Nestled inside the warmest zone of the behind-the-scenes Tropical Nursery at The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, a giant orchid, Grammatophyllum speciosum – also known as the Queen of Orchids – is growing in a wooden slatted basket which was especially made for the plant by Kew.  A large, and naturally top-heavy, epiphytic orchid, Grammatophyllum speciosum can be found growing within the branches of tall trees in tropical regions of the world, where it flowers every two to four years.  

Gardens to visit in Surrey, Hampshire, and West Sussex

We’re fortunate to benefit from so many beautiful, important, and historic gardens being open for us to enjoy in Surrey, Hampshire and West Sussex.  We can be inspired by spectacular plant collections, see rare and exotic plants, enjoy beautiful landscapes and learn more about how amazing plants are, without travelling very far at all!