In February 2020, Kew Gardens’ 25th annual orchid festival will celebrate the wildlife and vibrant culture of Indonesia – an archipelago of more than 17,504 islands, including Java, Borneo, Sulawesi, Papua and Bali. Indonesia’s landscape is as diverse as the flora and fauna that inhabit it, from tropical rainforests to spectacular volcanoes.
Stepping into the Princess of Wales Conservatory, visitors will find themselves transported to a paradise evoking some of the sights, smells and sounds of Indonesia. To capture a glimpse of the wonders of this vast region, the orchid festival at Kew Gardens will be an immersive journey through the different zones of the glasshouse, where visitors will find beautiful orchid displays which each represent an aspect of Indonesian wildlife and culture.
Indonesia boasts a hugely diverse range of societies and cultures with over 300 languages spoken across its many islands. This is matched by its staggering biodiversity, including at least 4,000 species of orchid, as well as many other plants that can be found only on certain islands in the archipelago. For instance, the island of Sumatra is the only place you’ll find the infamous Titan Arum, Amorphophallus titanium, otherwise known as the ‘corpse flower’ thanks to the appalling smell of rotting flesh it produces when in bloom.
Stretching from Sumatra in the west to the island of New Guinea in the east, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew has been working across Indonesia for many years. Working with their counterparts on the ground, RBG Kew’s scientists are undertaking intrepid field trips to discover new plants, aid conservation efforts, and promote sustainable development. Much of Indonesia’s vast and varied landscape remains unexplored; just last year an RBG Kew scientist, André Schuiteman, discovered and described a new orchid that was completely unknown to science. It was named Bulbophyllum adolinae after Adolina, the wife of the governor of West Papua.
The Ambassador of Indonesia to the UK, H. E. Rizal Sukma, says: “Through the orchid festival, I hope that visitors can have a wonderful journey experiencing the magnificent Indonesia. As well as its flora, Indonesia is rich in biodiversity, wildlife, nature and culture which will be beautifully displayed in this festival.”
Scott Taylor, Conservatories Manager says: “Indonesia encompasses a myriad of cultures and societies across its thousands of islands, making it an utterly unique theme for this year’s orchid festival. The Princess of Wales Conservatory will be transformed by awe-inspiring orchid displays that will showcase the country’s biodiversity and Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew’s work in the country to help to protect, conserve and study its plants.”
Entry to the festival is included in the standard ticket to the gardens but visitors must book a timed ticket slot online in advance.
Orchids After Hours will run on 13, 14, 26, 27 February and 5, 6 March 2020, 6:30pm - 10pm. Tickets must be bought online in advance.