July 13, 2012

The Orchidarium


High in the jungle treetops in Yunnan province in southern China, the Vanda Coerulea orchid is flowering again, a sign that biodiversity in flourishing afresh in the Tianzi Exploratory Reserve after years of intensive single-crop farming.

The Guerlain Orchidarium, a unique research platform dedicated to the orchid, contains three entities: an Experimental Garden in Geneva, a Fundamental Lab in Strasbourg and an Exploratory Reserve in Tianzi. 

Guerlain has been following a policy of “jungle farming” on the 900-hectare (2,225-acre) nature reserve. This commitment to nature has also made it possible for the Bulang, the inhabitants of this region straddling the border of Burma and Laos, to re-establish a viable local economy.

Vast numbers of trees and flowers are replanted here each year: ginger roots and tea trees, ficus, birch, galangal, vines, and orchids. By sparingly harvesting all manner of plants, flowers and spices (cardamom, orchids, tea leaves, etc.), the Bulang are able to enjoy a steady income.

The men climb the trees to harvest the two species of orchids, of which two kilos are needed to make just ten grams of the active ingredient used in the Orchidée Impériale product range.

The hypnotically blue Vanda Coerulea orchid is extraordinarily long-lived and plays a pivotal role in preserving the youthfulness of the skin, while the  Vanda Teres, with its large, iris-like petals, is very resistant to thermal shock. Its “vandaterosides”—unique molecules found nowhere else in nature—help the skin to better withstand the stress of dryness and other forms of external duress.

Guerlain’s Orchidarium goes to show that in caring for oneself, one can also care for others.

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