Amazing Amazon Antidote to Frosty February at Kew Gardens!
Sunday 5 February to Sunday 6 March 201, Princess of Wales Conservatory
Depressed by the thought of those long winter months looming on the horizon? Then put Sunday 5 February into your diary, which marks the opening of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew’s month-long Tropical Extravaganza festival, in celebration of all things bright, beautiful and, of course, tropical.
As 2011 has been declared the UN International Year of Forests, this year’s extravaganza celebrates the wonder and importance of the tropical rainforest. Exotic orchids and tropical flower displays will dominate the Princess of Wales Conservatory, evoking the lush landscape of the rainforest and transporting the visitor to an entirely different world. Reams of stunning foliage will hang down from the pillars and arches of the glasshouse. Sculptures of birds (who have special relationships with tropical plants in the wild), and sound recordings of the rainforest will enhance the wonderfully exotic atmosphere. Visitors will stay warm and inspired at this feast for the senses, whilst February rages outside Kew’s tropical oasis.
This year’s central display, in the pond area, represents a flooded rainforest, with a huge tree emerging from the water. In reality, the Amazon River bursts its banks every year and floods the surrounding rainforest. This seasonal flooding means that the very tops of the trees become accessible by boat and fish can even pluck fruit from the tree canopy! This abstract representation of nature at its most dramatic will be truly breathtaking, and to witness it will be a rare and exciting opportunity.
This blissful setting is not merely to be admired. We also aim to inform visitors about the vital importance of maintaining tropical rainforest landscapes, and the interdependency of the plants within them and all living things. The UN’s theme for the International Year of the Forests is ‘forests for people’, encouraging sustainable management, conservation, and sustainable development of all types of forest. Forests provide shelter for people and habitats for biodiversity; are a source of food, medicine and clean water; and play a vital role in maintaining a stable global climate and environment. All of these elements taken together reinforce the fact that forests are vital to the survival and wellbeing of people everywhere.
Professor Stephen Hopper, Director of Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, says “The habitat with the greatest number of threatened species is the tropical rainforest, where 63% of threatened species are found. That is why we have chosen to represent the rainforest through this year’s Tropical Extravaganza festival – we are asking visitors to come and admire the stunning beauty of the display whilst also considering the dangers that this vital habitat faces, before it is too late. Kew accepts that deforestation will continue to happen due to a demand for resources, but we believe that it can be significantly reduced, stopped, or reversed through science-based restoration wherever possible.“
In order to illustrate the threat to our rainforests, the north end of the Princess of Wales Conservatory will represent a ‘scorched’ forest – with the sounds of logs being cut down and animals moving away to really create the effect of what is happening. There will also be displays that illustrate the work that Kew does to protect rainforests around the world, and prompt visitors to think about where their food comes from. Take, for example, coffee, which is the world’s most important agricultural commodity. For more than a hundred and fifty years, coffee was widely grown under the leafy canopy of native rainforest trees, a traditional agroforestry system which is a great wildlife habitat. Our daily cup is now under threat as commercial plantations and wild species are struggling to survive climate change and pests. Kew works to help the future of the coffee industry by discovering and protecting wild populations that are more pest resistant and can survive in higher temperatures and lower rainfall. For more information on Kew’s work with coffee conservation please go to: http://www.kew.org/news/kews-work-with-coffee-in-madagascar.htm.
For questions on these issues, and on the display, there will be volunteer guides in the conservatory throughout the festival who will be happy to provide answers. Throughout the festival, Kew staff and volunteer guides will be offering a number of hands-on sessions and behind-the-scenes tours; including the opportunity to find out more about Kew’s taxonomic and restoration work with orchids in biodiversity hotspots, expert advice on growing orchids, and tours of our Tropical Nursery. For more information on Kew’s Tropical Nursery please go to: http://www.kew.org/visit-kew-gardens/garden-attractions-A-Z/tropical-nursery.htm.
As there is nowhere in London more romantic than beautiful Kew Gardens, and because Valentine’s Day falls during the festival, we are inviting visitors to spend an exotic Valentine’s evening amid Kew’s glorious orchid displays, enjoying champagne and sumptuous canapés. Orchid specialists will also be on hand to offer expert growing tips. Afterwards, take a romantic illuminated walk to the Orangery, where you’ll be served a four-course dinner designed by Oliver Peyton and Executive Chef, Mark Read. You will also receive a free gift of a beautiful moth orchid plant. Monday 14 February, £99 per person, booking is essential.
In search of a Valentines Day gift? Our retail outlets will be stocking a wide range of tropical plants and orchids, alongside a selection of tropical themed products and books. For more information on Kew’s retail products please go to: http://www.kew.org/visit-kew-gardens/visit-information/shopping/
We are also offering special Vanilla Orchid Inspired Afternoon Teas served in the Orangery. This will include a delicious range of food and accompanying cocktails made with vanilla. Saturday 5 February – Sunday 6 March, 2.00 – 4.30pm, £15 per person. For more information about the event go to http://www.kew.org/visit-kew-gardens/whats-on/Vanilla-orchid-inspired-afternoon-tea.htm. For more information about vanilla visit http://www.kew.org/plants-fungi/Vanilla-planifolia.htm
We will be holding a press preview for Tropical Extravaganza on Thursday 3 February 2011. For more information please contact the Press Office.
For more information please contact the RBG Kew Press Office on 020 8332 5607 or email email@example.com
Images are available to download from www.kew.org/press/images . Please contact the press office for the username and password.
Notes to editors:
- Opening hours: 9.30am – 4.15pm until 7 February 2011 9.30am – 5.30pm 8 February until 28 March 2011
- Last entry to the Gardens, the Glasshouses, Galleries and the Xstrata Treetop Walkway is 30 minutes before closing
- Admission: Adults £13.90, Concessions £11.90, free for children under 17 (with an adult)
- Visitor information: 020 8332 5655 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: www.kew.org
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a world famous scientific organisation, internationally respected for its outstanding living collection of plants and world-class Herbarium as well as its scientific expertise in plant diversity, conservation and sustainable development in the UK and around the world. Kew Gardens is a major international visitor attraction. Its landscaped 132 hectares and RBG Kew’s country estate, Wakehurst Place, attract nearly 2 million visitors every year. Kew was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2003 and celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2009. Wakehurst Place is home to Kew's Millennium Seed Bank, the largest wild plant seed bank in the world. RBG Kew and its partners have collected and conserved seed from 10 per cent of the world's wild flowering plant species (c.30, 000 species). The aim is to conserve 25% by 2020, and its enormous potential for future conservation can only be fulfilled with the support of the public and other funders.
Kew needs to raise significant funds both in the UK and overseas. Members of the public can support the work of the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership by getting involved with the ‘Adopt a Seed, Save a Species' campaign. For £25 an individual can adopt a seed or for £1000 anyone can save an entire species. www.kew.org/adoptaseed.
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