Whilst the main aim of this blog is to show you all the best things London has to offer through the eyes of a local (that’s me!), it also gives me a perfect excuse to go out and explore. So in the spirit of doing just that, a couple of weeks ago I decided to make the most of the first warm and sunny day of the year and check out the orchid display at Kew Gardens.

The gardens are quite a long way from where I live (over an hour by public transport) so on the way I also stopped at Antipodea cafe to grab a quick breakfast. This Austrialian style restaurant has a fantastic breakfast selection although the service can be a little hit and miss (my coffee and juice came after I had already finished my food). If you’re visiting at the weekend, remember to book a table!

Gardens at Kew are certainly one of my favourite green spaces in London and I would totally visit more often if it wasn’t for the nearly £20 entry price (I got a student discount which basically halved the price, one of the perks of going back to grad school!). There’s just so much to see: from the largest Victorian glasshouse in the world to the tranditional bamboo garden that makes you feel as if you were in Japan. Even though it’s one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions it’s still possible to find a quiet spot to get away from it all and relax taking in the nature.

Every year, just as winter turns into spring, Kew Gardens play host to an orchid exhibition. The theme is different every year and this time it was all about a celebration of the vibrant culture of Colombia. There were over 6,200 orchids on display made into the most esquisite arrangements. I’ve never been to Colombia but if it looks anything like that it’s definitely climbing to the top of my bucket list!

Some of the most impressive displays included:

  • The ‘carnival of animals’ arrangement set on the water which depicted different Colombian animals - a toucan, a sloth and a swimming turtle - all made ouf of orchids and other tropical flowers.

  • A cascade of hanging orchids in all the colours of the rainbow which took as its inspiration Colombia’s most famous river: Caño Cristales.

  • Hundreds of little paper (I think) butterflies suspended from the glasshouse ceiling.

The exhibition was smaller than I expected but it was certainly impressive. It made waiting for over an hour in a queue to the conservatory where the flowers were worth it (this is what happens when you decide to go on the first spring like day of the years which also happens to be half term!). But even though the staff limited the number of people going into the conservatory at any one time, it was still very crowded inside.

If you haven’t been to Kew Gardens yet, you should definitely add it to your list next time you’re in London. And if you happen to visit during February / March, check out the orchid festival - you won’t regret it!

Have you been to Kew Gardens yet? Or maybe you’ve seen orchids in Colombia? Let me know in the comments.