This spectacular and unprecedented display of orchids from around the world brilliantly showcased Thailand's potential as a global orchid centre. Over 50,000 orchid plants representing nearly 10,000 different native species, hybrid varieties, new as well as rare orchids were on display. The result was stunning and this was one of my favourite areas of the whole Flora Expo. I was not surprised when we were told that this was the largest and longest-running orchid exhibition and competition ever held in Thailand.
The Orchids of the World section was designed to demonstrate Thailand’s potential for being the orchid capital of the world, to promote the growth and development of the orchid industry; promote greater awareness of technological advances in orchid cultivation and production; and highlight Thailand’s success in research and development initiatives related to orchid cultivation and production. I don’t know whether these aims were achieved but I do know that the pavilion and adjacent garden were always crowded with visitors and all were impressed with what they saw.
The adjacent Orchid Park was the largest of its kind ever created in Thailand. It was specially designed to showcase a wide variety of exquisite orchids in surroundings that emulate closely their natural habitats and it achieved this dramatically. My wife and I became separated in this area and it took us 45 minutes before we got back together simply because we were both fascinated by everything on display.
The display brought a range of orchid ‘heavyweights’ together. The exhibition was jointly organized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Department of Agriculture and Horticultural Science Society of Thailand, along with the Ornamental Plants Association of Thailand, numerous orchid clubs and associations, educational institutions and other related government organizations. It was supported by the International Society for Horticultural Science and the World Flower Council.
During the Flora Expo the organizers held weekly orchid competitions. These include natural orchid gardens; landscaped orchid gardens featuring the innovative or imaginative use of orchids; potted orchids; and cut flowers. One of the competitions was live orchid arrangement in which entrants used their creativity to design an arrangement of living orchid plants, either incorporated into a small natural garden setting or combined with other decorative objects in a free style arrangement. We were amazed by the wonderful creations.
While I had always liked orchid flowers, this exhibition has given me new appreciation of the beauty, fragility, and variety available. I am growing a few in my own garden and if I succeed, they will be a wonderful reminder of my Thailand visit and particularly of the Flora Expo.