Workshop Week – Chester Zoo

In a further development of the Mendip Studio School link with Chester Zoo we have hosted a visit this week by Viv Brown who is responsible for the Zoo’s collection of 3000 orchids. Viv came to the Orchid Project to learn more about orchid culture and spent two days working on propagation by seed and division, discussing watering, feeding and pest control, and exploring ways of linking orchid displays to conservation, science and ecosystem.

We really enjoyed working with Viv and look forward to exciting projects together in the future.


Workshop Week at Orchid Project

Workshop Week is going well with lots of visiting scientists and horticulturalist converging on our greenhouse and labs to learn about orchid growing, propagation, conservation and education.

On Tuesday we hosted Wendy and Matt form the Bristol Aquarium and Viv from Chester Zoo. Wendy and Matt picked up the Gongora plants for their new display – well done to Tallis and her team for preparing the plants and display interpretation.

There will also be a new ‘Dinosaur Orchids’ exhibit which will feature recent evidence of Orchids evolution around 80 million years ago.



365 days of orchids – day 199 – Vanda falcata

Ruby here with my first post. Vanda falcata is an orchid from Japan with very fragrant flowers. We grow it in cool Asia in baskets.

I have done research and found that this species has been grown in Japan for a very long time. Vanda falcata, often called Fūki-ran or ‘orchid of the rich and noble people’ because in Japan 400 years ago, only the rich and noble could afford to own the orchid. They were so prized that they would be covered with a gold or silver net to protect them and to admire the plant, people had to cover their mouths so they would not breathe on it.

There are many different forms of this orchid, including changes on colour, size, shape and even leaf texture. We have two types, one all white which is the normal variety and one with a white flower and a red-pink stem and spur.

The long spur holds the nectar and the flowers are pollinated by moths.


Orchid mantis

Hi all, Joe here, today I have a bit of info about the orchid mantis.

 This is is my orchid mantis. It’s about one and a half centimetres long and its about one month old.


hymenopus coronatus or the orchid mantis is generally found in rainforests in south-east Asia. They are very bloodthirsty insects and females will often eat the male after mating. the males grow to roughly 1 inch and the females grow to 8cm.



365 days of orchids – day 198 – Prosthechea brassavolae

This dramatic Central American species is one of our favourites. We found it as a common epiphyte in Costa Rica on the Poas Volcano in the Bosque de Paz reserve. The habitat is wet evergreen forest at 1400m with lush epiphytic growth of ferns, bromeliads and orchids (our photo of the reserve below)

The species is fragrant at night and probably pollinated by moths. In 2007 two A level science students tried to camp out at night by one of the flowering plants of Prosthechea brassavolae to try and photograph the moth in question. However the rain forest can be a bit spooky at night and in Costa Rica is full of the sounds of exotic animals so the sixth formers lasted less than an hour before returning to the comfort of a hammock at the lodge. Perhaps we will have another try sometime.

Not surprisingly, given the habitat, the species enjoys cool temperatures, shade and lots of water.