Danger and Desire: The seductive power of orchids

New exhibition delving deep into the seductive allure of orchids, one of the largest plant families, found on nearly every environment on earth.

Orchid house Cattelya House
credit: RHS Lindley Collections

The exhibition, which will be held at RHS Wisley will feature exquisite artworks and rare books from the RHS collections, bringing the exotic history of the orchid to life.

Orchids are extraordinarily diverse in their sizes, shapes and colours. Some are elegant, others are grotesque. Some seem to mimic insects, animals or even human body parts. But there is more to them than botanical variation. Throughout history, orchids have developed a powerful hold on our imagination.

As symbols of mystery, desire, danger and wealth, orchids have inspired countless works of art, literature, film and fashion. Their complexity, diversity and rarity have fascinated scientists and obsessed the rich.

In this Old Laboratory exhibition at RHS Garden Wisley, discover beautiful botanical artworks and rare books from the RHS collections, and find out how our different perceptions of orchids – as aphrodisiacs, carnivorous predators, and mass-market commodities – have evolved over time.

You can see Danger and Desire, The seductive power of orchids from the 8th of February until the 1st of May 2024 at Wisley Gallery, Wisley Old Laboratory. The event is free with normal garden admission charges. No booking is required.