Welcome to the contrary and fascinating world of one of the biggest plant families on Earth. 'Orchids are plants of great contradiction but always astonishing beauty' - says James Armitage, botanist and Editor of The Orchid Review magazine, who shares insight into what draws people to these strange and wonderful plants.
Historian Abra Lee tells the tale of a young enslaved man in Reunion who solved the riddle of how to pollinate vanilla - the only orchid out of 25,000-plus species that's commercially grown as a food crop. Did you know you can grow orchids as garden plants? Jeff Hutchings of Laneside Hardy Orchids gives tips on how to grow them outdoors - why not make an orchid meadow in your garden this year?
Colin Newlands tells the tortuous tale of our rarest native orchid, the lady's slipper orchid (Cypripedium calceolus). Thought extinct in the early 20th century: a chance encounter in the 1930s on an isolated hillside led to decades of botanical intrigue - and even personal protection for the plant. We discover how this exquisite wildflower is faring almost a century after its assumed disappearance.
The Orchid Review
Tips for growing orchids indoors
RHS Orchids (book)
Laneside Hardy Orchids
Orchid Show at RHS Garden Wisley
The Wildlife Trusts
BSBI maps (Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland) (for discovering your local native orchid species)
Selected plants mentioned
Hardy orchids: Bletilla, Calanthe, Dactylorhiza, Cypripedium, Pleione
Indoor orchids: Phalaenopsis (moth orchids), Cattleya
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What have wasps ever done for us? The answer might surprise you, as we meet entomologist Dr Seirian Sumner, author of Endless Forms: The Secret World of Wasps. Food and garden writer Rekha Mistry offers advice on growing turmeric and ginger at home, while RHS Garden Hyde Hall's very own veg...