Orchid display

Pupils help us create giant new orchid display

Bristol Aquarium has joined forces with pupils from a Somerset school to create a major new orchid display in their botanical glasshouse.

The Harbourside attraction has been working alongside pupils from Writhlington School in Radstock to build the spectacular new feature which is home to more than 50 different orchid species.

The display is the brainchild of the aquarium’s resident horticulturist Wendy Desyllas who initially approached the school after hearing about their international orchid conservation work in Rwanda at various RHS shows.

“I am completely in awe of the work carried out by the pupils at Writhlington School,” said Wendy.

“In just a few short months of planning they have identified over 50 species of orchids from tropical forests around the globe that tell stories about conservation and ecosystems and then planted them in this new display. All the plants have been raised by the students at the school.

“This whole area was barefaced rock and is now home to some of the most beautiful and fragrant orchids Bristol will have ever seen. We are all very excited to see it develop and grow over the coming years.

“We also hope it inspires our visitors to learn more about these plants and support the conservation work that Writhlington School undertakes,” she added.

Wendy was joined by the aquarium Maintenance Manager Mat Orlik to help build a large tree structure which all the orchids will be fixed to, this includes a trough filled with soil ready for orchids to be planted at all levels for interest.

It creeps up the wall and will eventually reach the suspended walkway by the waterfall to meet the existing smaller orchid display.

Simon Pugh-Jones MBE, Enterprise Manager at Writhlington School, said: “In time the orchid display here at Bristol Aquarium will be incredible, with huge flowering orchids filling the whole wall and I cannot wait to see it grow over the years.”

“The most significant part of conservation is always education and linking plant conservation with marine and river inlet conservation. What we are able to do at Bristol Aquarium is share this message with a wider audience.”

“This has been a fantastic experience for the students; to work with leading scientists and practitioners builds their knowledge and passion for conservation and the natural environment”.

“At Writhlington School we have a lab and greenhouse that we grow our orchids in. It’s a huge part of our students’ development; learning to care for delicate orchids from seed to flower and, at the same time, develop their business and communication skills to help communities in Africa.”

Writhlington School has won numerous awards for its pioneering orchid project including a gold medal at the 2009 Chelsea Flower Show. The school is working with communities in Africa, Asia and the Americas to develop orchid conservation through education.

Issued by Bristol Aquarium. For more information and to arrange interviews, picture or filming opportunities please contact Sarah Moore on 0117 929 8929.