EXOTIC plant life is the watchword at Kew Gardens from Saturday 7 February, as this year’s 250th birthday party for the world’s most famous botanical park gets underway.

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Tropical Extravaganza is centred mainly on the beautiful (and warm!) Princess of Wales Conservatory, with orchids given the star-billing over less famous exotica rivals such as bromeliads and anthuriums.

Tying in with another birthday – 2009 is the 200th year since the birth of Charles Darwin – sections of the exhibition are dedicated to the father of evolution, featuring orchid specimens found by the great man on his famous HMS Beagle trip and some of his garden experiments.

Other highlights of Tropical Extravaganza include a Valentine’s Dinner with a champagne reception and fancy dinner in the Orangery restaurant; an Orchids for Beginners course and the chance to buy your own personal orchid, developed especially for Kew’s 250th.

Tropical Extravaganza runs from 7 February to 8 March.

More plant fun at our Flower Show feature