Aquarium’s blooming marvellous Orchids go on display at flower show

Bristol Aquarium joined forces with students from a Somerset school project to create a stunning orchid display at Hampton Court Flower Show this week.

The display was part of an ongoing joint project between the Harbourside attraction and Writhlington School Orchid project in Radstock.

Last year, pupils from the school helped build a permanent orchid display in the aquarium’s giant botanical glasshouse which features around 50 different species.

Bristol Aquarium’s horticulturist Wendy Desyllas has been so impressed with the commitment and enthusiasm of the students she was thrilled to be invited to volunteer at the exhibition.

The centrepiece of the display was a 25-year-old Proscetha prismatocarpa orchid from the treetops of Costa Rica. In total 70 different species of orchid were featured from around the world.

“I was delighted to have the chance to join students and teachers from the school at Hampton Court both to learn more about their wonderful project and to raise awareness of the work being done and the importance of orchid conservation worldwide.

“Our orchid collection here at the aquarium continues to grow and develop and has proved incredibly popular with visitors.

“It provides the perfect opportunity to showcase the amazing work the school is doing and helps educate people to the wonders of the orchid family.

“Individual species have evolved extraordinary methods of attracting pollinators which include everything from developing flowers which look like goats’ droppings to smelling like rubbish heaps!” she added.

Bristol Aquarium's Wendy Desyllas and Matt Orlik, right, with students from Writhlington School and their orchid display at Hampton Court Flower ShowBristol Aquarium’s Wendy Desyllas and Matt Orlik, right, with students from Writhlington School and their orchid display at Hampton Court Flower Show.

Wendy was joined by colleague Matt Orlik who helped on the day, the pair are currently hard at work planning a major extension to their own display at the aquarium later this year.

Writhlington School has won numerous awards for its pioneering orchid project, including a gold medal at the 2009 Chelsea Flower Show. Students have also travelled to Rwanda and are organising a trip to Kenya as part of their work.

The school has its own laboratory and greenhouse where pupils learn how to care for and grow orchids from seed. The project also enables them to develop their business and communication skills while working closely with communities in Africa, Asia and the Americas to develop orchid conservation through education.

Bristol Aquarium's Wendy Desyllas with the orchid display at Hampton Court Flower ShowBristol Aquarium’s Wendy Desyllas with the orchid display at Hampton Court Flower Show.

Issued by Bristol Aquarium. For more information and to arrange interviews, picture and filming opportunities please contact Hannah Worrall or Wendy Desyllas on 0117 929 8228.