London’s Temporary Rainforest

Sheer cliffs of concrete walls, linear rivers of tarmac roads, among the lights, the cars, the railroads, not a piece of jungle here abodes. As poetic as London maybe to some, a jungle truly does here abode, for 2 days a year at least. No more than half a mile from the grandeur of parliament and West Minister Abbey sits a hall of modest impression.

I entered, ascending the steps into the main hall. My eyes were drawn to a flock of Cypripedium flowers elegantly, yet with imperial stance, co-ordinate themselves like the guards of Buckingham Palace. My camera was in hand, I took a picture (right). Every inch from the floor upwards was festooned in orchids, bromeliads and other delights consolidated together by lush, thick carpets of moss. These exquisite displays were the work of nurseries, and societies from every corner of the globe; Ecuador, Germany, Japan, all contributing to the annual RHS Orchid and Botanical Art Show. Among the jungle displays were benches, corner to corner, pot to pot, of the most outstanding array of orchids, and all were for sale of course!

I had been saving up for at least a year, but not in the most conventional sense. We are all familiar with the empty biscuit tin that you have left over from Christmas where you throw in your odd bits and bobs, 10p here and 50p there. You all know the one I’m talking about. Well my tin began to focus on the big boys, accumulating every £2 pound coin that passed my hands. A year had passed and I was 200 coins heavier.

I set of, rustling my hefty rucksack. My face was grinning like a giddy school kid entering the gates of Willie Wonker`s chocolate factory. On lookers watched, confused by the loud noises emanating from my bag must have thought I was smuggling castanets!

Every coin I had was spent. By the end of the day I was unsure whether the happiness of getting a new selection of orchids outdid the feeling of having a much lighter bag. But what did I get… Well.

I acquired a Lepanthes telipogoniflora, a true miniature. The whole plant is around an inch in diameter and produces a profusion of bright red flowers. Unfortunately this one had finished flowering before I could take some photographs, so this little guy will appear in a later blog when it re-flowers. But the star of the show for me was this Retrepia trichoglossa xanthina. Although not the most showy orchid, it is truly bizarre. This rare colour variation is more vibrant yellow than the typical example of this species. Its flowers are distinctly bugged like and it can be assumed that it is used as a lure for insect pollinators.

This outstanding, yet relatively over looked show is a true highlight to note in the calendar. The dates for the 2015 show are:

Wednesday 8 April – Sunday 12 April 2015 Preview evening Wednesday 8 April

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One Response

  1. A delightful tale: Thanks for sharing
    … It brightened up a gloomy morning

    MichaelG.

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