Orchids at Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens is a magnificent place to visit at any time of year as the outdoor gardens transform magically throughout the seasons. But plants from other climatic zones are also on year-round display in the temperature-controlled glasshouses; and Kew Gardens is home to the oldest known collection of living orchids. There are two specialised orchid zones in the Princess of Wales Conservatory.

Orchids are entrancingly beautiful flowers – vibrant and sensuous. Some are tiny with intricate petals; others are large, pitcher-shaped and flamboyant. There are 25,000 named species of orchids; and whilst they may conjure up images of an exotic paradise, orchids actually live in a wide range of climates, from the sub-Arctic to the Tropics.

With their intoxicatingly colourful designs, insects are drawn towards them and many orchids have complex relationships with their pollinators.  Some can only be pollinated by a specific insect, which is a precarious balance.  It is believed that 10% of orchids are now endangered in their native habitats.  Some orchids have now become so highly prized that collectors will pay a fortune to own such rare beauty – adding to their uncertain future.

I own a large white orchid, which I have managed to keep alive and (occasionally) flowering for a decade – an achievement as they are notoriously temperamental and difficult flowers to sustain at home!  But their remarkable beauty makes the challenge worthwhile…

I hope you enjoy my photos of these strange and enchanting flowers.

Kew-1 Orchids at Kew Gardens

Kew-3 Orchids at Kew Gardens

Kew-4 Orchids at Kew Gardens

Kew-5 Orchids at Kew Gardens

Kew-6 Orchids at Kew Gardens

Kew-7 Orchids at Kew Gardens

Written by Sarah Rees

Environmental Scientist, presenter and keen wildlife photographer; Sarah is also a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. With a background in television production, she launched her online Forestwatch videos to celebrate the diversity of woodland wildlife and ancient trees.


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  1. Since writing this post my ancient white orchid has died! I used the wrong soil when I re-potted it. The soil was too heavy and it became water-logged…. A lesson learned the hard way, I was so disappointed!

  2. Many years ago I worked at Kew installing pipes,my lunch times were spent in the oldglass house.The perfume was different each day,if it were possible to bottle that smell would be a world first.Found a field of hundreds of terrestial orchids close to our home on PFA pulverised fuel ash set to work and started a nature reserve,but after I left they got an expert who was given fun of the ash killed tds he employed a heavy machine to strip of top killed 90%.But these pictures are wonderful.

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