Growers welcome RHS plan to focus on orchids at show

Orchid growers have welcomed the decision to feature orchids prominently at this summer's BBC Gardeners' World Live show.

Garden designer James Alexander Sinclair told 150 journalists at the RHS's 2008 shows launch last week that orchids will be "big in Birmingham", referring to BBC Gardeners' World Live on 11-15 June.

The joint BBC and RHS event will feature an orchid display bringing several exhibits together. These will include gold-medal-winning growers and plant societies. There will be potting demonstrations, talks and plants sales.

Dave Parkinson Plants will be the only UK exhibitor showing South African Disa orchids including new seedlings. Orchids by Peter White will be showing unusual new plants from its own collection and David Stead Orchids will be using Vandas to form the heart of its display.

Orchid grower Tim Riley of Gloucester-based Riley Growers welcomed the move, saying sales may increase particularly because Phalaenopsis is now available with "much more vibrant colours than before, especially reds and yellow".

Trade in moth orchids is highly competitive, with a huge market in Holland. The Chelsea show provides a chance for UK growers to be showcased. Riley added: "When I visited two years ago, half the orchids on stands at Chelsea were supplied by us."

Also at the shows launch, RHS head of shows development Bob Sweet revealed the Tatton Park show garden "Punk's not dead" will use monkey puzzles (Araucaria araucana) as an icon to highlight the threat that the tree is under in its native South American habitat.

Sweet said the spiky conifer is increasingly being cut down to use as timber for floorboards and the RHS will use the tree to promote sustainable forestry.

Barcham Trees sales executive David Johnson said he understood the focus on conservation, but added that he would be surprised if people were encouraged to plant monkey puzzle trees.

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