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Kew Gardens’ Orchids 2021: Costa Rica

Now in its 26th year, Kew Gardens’ annual festival, Orchids, will celebrate the rich and colourful culture of Costa Rica. Running between 13 March – 11 April 2021, visitors can escape the UK’s dreary winter weather and step inside a glasshouse filled with vibrant horticultural displays and animated soundscapes, transporting them to the tropics of Central America.

The displays

The route around the Princess of Wales Conservatory will be designed to recreate the country’s landscape, taking visitors from the southern shores, where the Pacific Ocean laps its world-renowned beaches, to the northern coastline that looks out onto the Caribbean Sea. Along the way, displays will feature native animals – including amphibians, reptiles and insects – all made from plants.

A highlight will be the resplendent quetzal, a bird native to Costa Rica and a charismatic symbol for the protection of the country’s forests. Costa Rica’s national flower, the Guarianthe skinneri will be on show, and the central display in the glasshouse pond will be filled with brilliant orange and yellow hues of orchids and bromeliads, to imitate a rising sun. While exploring the festival, visitors can discover more about orchids and Costa Rica by accessing extra content on their mobiles.

RBG Kew and Costa Rica

Kew’s focus on Costa Rica for Orchids 2021 will highlight the country’s unique position as a biodiversity hotspot. Home to 5% of the world’s biodiversity, even though it covers just 0.03% of the planet, it is a role model for the conservation of biodiversity; around a quarter of its land is part of a protected forest or reserve.

Kew has many collaborative scientific projects in Costa Rica, which include constructing a ‘family tree’ for all its orchid species to learn how to better protect them, and documenting plants in La Amistad Biosphere Reserve – one of the richest places on Earth for plant diversity.

What we are doing to keep visitors safe?

The safety and wellbeing of our visitors is of the upmost importance to us and we are continually monitoring and responding to the Covid-19 pandemic as it evolves. We are adhering to government advice in our planning to ensure visitors and staff remain safe while enjoying Orchids 2021.

Safety measures will include: compulsory wearing of face masks while inside the Princess of Wales Conservatory (unless exempt); a one-way system through the glasshouse; limited capacity inside the glasshouse; pre-booked time slots to help spread the arrival and flow of visitors; and stringent cleaning practices.

Scott Taylor,Conservatories Manager at Kew Gardens, said:

“Every year we enjoy brightening up the gloomy winter months with creative, vibrant and beautiful displays for Orchids, and this time around feels all the more pertinent. Costa Rica is a major orchid habitat with so many interesting species, and has much to teach us about conservation as the world faces such huge threats from biodiversity loss.

“Visitors will be able to safely enjoy a coast-to-coast journey across this tropical paradise that we’re aiming to recreate inside the Princess of Wales Conservatory, and learn a thing or two about its diversity and cultural wonders along the way.”

Kew Publishing will also be releasing a new orchid-caring book, Growing Orchids at Home, to coincide with the festival.

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