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Radiant beauty: Orchids at Night on display in London

At Kew Gardens in London, you can wander among the vibrant displays of colourful orchids beautifully lit.

Reflecting on the brilliance of orchids. Image (C) Tim Sandle.
Reflecting on the brilliance of orchids. Image (C) Tim Sandle.

Each February the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in London hosts ‘Orchids by Night’, showcasing some of the spectacular plants within the immense selection.

Spectacular orchid plant at Kew. Image (C) Tim Sandle

The orchids are on show at the heart of Kew’s Princess of Wales Conservatory.

Pretty in pink – orchid at night. Image by Tim Sandle.

The vibrant displays can also be visited during the day, but there’s a special allure to watching these magnificent plants at night.

Purple orchid on show at Kew. Image (C) Tim Sandle.

Seeing the plants illuminated by bright light juxtaposed against the night sky helps to bring out their beauty with a radiant intensity.

The most commonly sold orchids are Phalaenopsis, Cattleya, Dendrobium, and Cymbidium. Image (C) Tim Sandle

Orchids are plants that belong to the family Orchidaceae. The plants can be found in almost every country in the world except for Antarctica.

The beauty of orchids. Image (C) Tim Sandle

Remarkably, orchid flowers are symmetrical and can be divided perfectly in half, with two equal parts.

As well as spectacular plants, the evenings are accompanied by bands and singers from Madagascar, together with cookery demonstrations and appropriately themed food and cocktails. Performances included singer/songwriter and performer Rasoanaivo Hanitrarivo, poet and illustrator Vaonarivo Brown and the joyful Malagasy band, the Boriza Brothers.

People gazing at the wonder of orchids. Image (C) Tim Sandle

Madagascar boasts 49 genera and 240 taxa of orchids.

Shapes, colours and lines. Image (C) Tim Sandle

Vanilla is made from the seedpods of the vanilla orchid, Vanilla planifolia.

Africa is a vast continent containing many types of ecological environments. It harbours the second largest forest reserve in the world, including a huge diversity of orchids.

The amazing world of orchids. Image (C) Tim Sandle

The name ‘orchid’ comes from the Greek word “orchis” meaning testicle; because of the shape of the bulbous roots.

Orchids can grow on trees (epiphytic), on rocks (lithophytic) or even, uniquely among plants, entirely underground.

Tender is the night, a precious orchid. Image (C) Tim Sandle

The largest orchid genera are Bulbophyllum (2,000 species), Epidendrum (1,500 species), Dendrobium (1,400 species) and Pleurothallis (1,000 species).

Fade away and radiate. Image (C)Tim Sandle

Orchids are the largest family of flowering plants, with between 22,000 and 26,000 species in 880 genera.

A popular houseplant, orchids (Orchidaceae) are easy to grow and care for once you understand the ideal growing conditions and maintenance requirements. Image (C) Tim Sandle.

The continuing mystery of orchids is contained within the fact that scientists are discovering 200 to 300 new orchid species per year.

Orchids have been grown by people for thousands of years. Image (C) Tim Sandle.

For those visiting London during mid-winter, seeing the spectacular orchids after hours is well worth a visit to the immense Kew Gardens.

Enjoying the wow factor of orchids at night. Image (C)Tim Sandle
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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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