About the festival
Think you’ll still have to wait a month to see London in its spring bloom glory? Think again. The Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew are celebrating the 25th anniversary of their orchid festival this year, from the 8th of February to the 8th of March.
The Royal Botanical Gardens’ Orchid Festival pays homage to the five thousand plus orchid varieties that can be found on the islands of Indonesia, a large percentage of the twenty to thirty thousand species worldwide. Kew Gardens are the largest botanical gardens in the world, so there’s plenty more to explore once there- it’s well worth making a day of it!
The incredible plant with its long history of cultural significance is the namesake of Blue Orchid Hotels for good reason, and it’s no wonder the flower is celebrated yearly at the Kew Gardens by visitors from all over the world:
- Paphiopedilum, the name of one of the most common orchid species, is derived from ‘Paphos’, the name of the temple where the Greek goddess of love Aphrodite was worshipped.
- Orchids have origins on every continent in the world apart from Antarctica.
- The orchid plant survives through symbiotic relationships, which means they are often found growing on trees. The orchid takes nutrients from both the air and the tree, meaning they do not harm the plant on which they grow.
- In Ancient Greece, people believed eating orchid tubers would define the gender of their baby. If the father ate a larger tuber the child would be a boy, and if the mother ate a smaller, thinner tuber, the child would be a girl.
- Vanilla, a type of orchid, was mixed with chocolate by the Aztecs to create an elixir thought to bring the drinker strength. Vanilla extract is commonly used in food to this day.
- Orchids also have a medicinal use: particularly in China where they have been used for thousands of years as a remedy for illnesses of the lung, kidney, and stomach.
- Victorians often collected orchids to purvey refined tastes, as they were exceptionally rare. When presented as a gift, the rarer the colour and genus of the orchid the deeper the love was for the receiver.
- Like many other flowers, the colour of the orchid’s petals symbolise different emotions. Purple orchids mean royalty and are commonly gifted as a sign of respect, and yellow orchids signify new beginnings and are a popular present between friends to celebrate accomplishments.
- The orchid is the traditional flower of a couples’ 30th wedding anniversary.
Getting to Kew Gardens
The Royal Botanical Gardens are in Richmond, Zone 3, and are easily accessible by the London Underground’s Richmond branch of the District Line, Overground, and National Rail trains. Guests of The Wellington
and The Rochester hotels
can enjoy the short half an hour train journey to the Orchid festival. Blue Orchid Hotels’ Tower Suites
are only fifteen minutes further away on a single train ride for convenient journeys both to the festival and other popular Central London attractions. Don’t forget to ask at the reception desk when you arrive with help planning transport and booking tickets.