Thursday, February 09, 2012

Tropical Extravaganza

Every year Kew Gardens holds what they call their Tropical Extravaganza, which is basically an excuse to dress up the Princess of Wales Conservatory with hundreds of orchids, and other exotic flowers and foliage. There’s no pretence about the show being to exhibit botanically unusual or rare plants but to put on a wild show of colour in the middle of winter. 

Given the cold weather outside it was a very welcome break when Mark and I entered the glasshouse, the warmth of the heat and warmth of the displays was quite a nice lift. I have to be honest that this style of exotic planting is not what we would want to recreate at home, its a bit over the top, and in places reminded us of the wedding arches you see from Beach weddings. Nice for someone else but not for us

However that said, the overall impact was impressive, and the colour and vibrancy of the individual plants were like sweets in an old fashioned sweet shop, and like the proverbial kid in a sweet shop we dashed from one to another. Perhaps that’s exaggerating a little bit here, but we certainly spent our time admiring many of the individual blooms as well as the overall effect. Its fair to say that some of these blooms are somewhat brash, but many have a real delicate nature to them.

An entrance of pure Orchids. It took a while to get a clear shot as everyone else was getting in the way!
Unfortunately many of the orchids were not named, but some of them were. Where we were able to identify a plant the names are added below, hopefully we have the correct name with the correct plant.

This reminded me of the tie dye t shirts from the early 90s. Miltonia 'Red Jewel'

Phalaenopsis 'Las Palmas'

Colmanara 'Wildcat'

The roof supports were cloaked in Orchids
These arches reminded us of Exotic weddings!
The Tropical Extravaganza at Kew is on until early March.


More pictures from our day on Facebook
Kew: Tropical Extravaganza


  1. There are some beautiful Orchids here. But have to agree, the whole thing was over the top. Just a little too much together yet would have been nice to see.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

  2. I see what you mean about the display being a bit OTT! The individual flowers are stunning, but the displays don't do it for me I'm afraid. It must have taken ages to put together!


  3. Wow - that wall of orchids is amazing! Must have been wonderful to see these pretties on a winter's day. I kind of like over the top - makes me think I've gotten my money's worth!

  4. What an astonishing display and bright colours. I do like the odd orchid or two but that is something else. I wouldn't know where to look first.

  5. Hi Cher, same thoughts here, the display was OTT but it does make for a good show and attracts extra visitors to Kew. Good fun though! :)

    Ben, definitely OTT but I suppose that was what they were trying to achieve, an explosion of colour. It must have taken them ages to assemble the display, and lots of student manpower! :)

    Holley, the display was intense and so colourful that you do feel you've gotten your money's worth if you visit for the main purpose of seeing their tropical flower display :) The atmosphere feels more Caribbean than South East Asia where most of the flowers came from.

    Janet, the orchids were displayed to imbibe an overall effect rather than to easily appreciate each individual type. It was a dazzling display. Anyone into orchids can spend ages there admiring each type of bloom. I did like the first set or arches on the entrance to the humid house (after the arid bit), the colours reminded me of Dolly Mixture :)

  6. It would make me speechless! I saw some orchids yesterday at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle, but to see the whole world of them... lucky you! I hope you forgot about winter for a while!

  7. Mark and Gaz, wow what a display, but I can understand what you mean by saying it is a little bit over the top. Still I certainly enjoyed your post, looking at the over all photos and the close-ups of the orchids. Orchids are such a versatile group of plants. I just grow two cymbidium orchids outside in pots and they are blooming right now. Reminds me that I should take a pic and post it on my blog ;-).

  8. I really want to know how these greenhouses can be made so airtight that no cold air gets in and no warm air gets out. I can apply those techniques to our 102 year old house :-).

    Absolutely beautiful photography.

  9. I agree with you, it's over the top and not my style. However, if I lived anywhere near Kew, I'd go too. They're very smart putting this on in the dead of winter when everybody craves a pop of color--or in this case, an explosion!

    :: Bamboo and More ::

    11 February 2012 06:38

  10. I really like the look of the entrance area - something about the light grey of the aerial roots contrasting with the intense colors of the flowers - but I agree with regard to the rest of the displays - too over-the-top and artificial-looking.

  11. there's never too much of anything in art. Extravaganza was the name for it !

  12. Orchids had a very large presence at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show this many of them! It was like this but on a small scale.

  13. Tatyana, it was so warm and comfy in the glasshouse that for a moment I did forget it was winter, no jacket inside, just a t-shirt :)

    Christina, Thanks, glad you enjoyed it, looking forward to seeing your pic of the orchids too.

    KL, I think they just keep the heat up high, this glass house is fairly new so I assume it has good insulation built in.

    Gerhard, its an explosion indeed, and whilst not our style we enjoyed the explosion!

    CG, we loved that part too, the contrasts of the colours works well.

    Celine, it sure was an Extravaganza, so much colour in one place!

    Loree, Orchids are great at this time of year, especially if its cold and gloomy outside.

  14. I have always been in orchid shows here, but they don't make displays like that, maybe they really would like to impress with the display and not with the individual plant. Besides, that way they can save space, which might be difficult to get inside a conservatory. But the flowers are stunning and looks very healthy. I know them in general e.g. vanda, phalaenopsis, Kagawara but not the 'varieties'. I am more biased with orchids, so if i am there i will stay very long in that area.


Thank you for taking the time to reply to our post, we love reading comments and hearing your views.

Due to the increased level of spam, please note comments on older posts are moderated and only published after approval. All new comments are read and any spam is deleted.