Date: 
Friday, November 15, 2019 - 12:15

Gardeners at the Eden Project have taken to the treetops to relocate Eden’s orchid collection into the Rainforest Biome canopy.

The orchids are epiphytes, so live on the branches of trees, feeding on nutrients provided by fungus growing in their roots and rainfall. Epiphytes exist in harmony with their host plants, unlike parasites which have a detrimental effect to their hosts.

A team of gardeners from Eden’s Rainforest Biome and Chloe McGiveron from the Writhlington School Orchid Project, which propagates orchids and has been working with Eden for three years, used cherry pickers and ladders to reach the high branches.

They attached the orchids with tights, chosen for their flexibility and breathability. The tights will hold the plants on the branches while the roots establish themselves and will be removed once the plants are secure.

The orchids were part of a temporary summer display and are being moved to their permanent home in the Amazon area of Eden’s Rainforest Biome.

The orchids planted are Stanhopea oculate, Oncidium sphacelatum, Brassia verrucose and Camaridium praestans, which are native to Costa Rica, Mexico, Guatemala and other parts of Central America.

Lucie Oldale, Rainforest Biome horticulturist, said: “It is really exciting to work with specialists from Writhlington School, Chloe has helped us to choose the best locations in the Biome for each species, we have selected areas in the canopy with the right light and humidity levels so that our orchids will thrive.

“At Eden we like to display plants in a way that emphasises how they would grow in their natural habitats, many of the species we have panted are winter-flowering too so we should have some beautiful spots of colour throughout the winter months.”

This work is part of a programme of aerial gardening undertaken on a regular basis by the Eden Project’s horticulture team. As well as cherry-pickers and ladders, gardeners also abseil from the roof of the Biome to prune the tallest.

A short video of the work is available at https://youtu.be/h85JvZ50kok.