Belfast Telegraph

Monday 20 October 2014

Tight security for rare orchid

A Lady's Slipper, the UK's rarest orchid, will be under guard when it appears at the Chelsea Flower Show (Welcome to Yorkshire/PA)

Britain's rarest orchid will go on display under heavy security at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show next week.

The Lady's Slipper orchid, which is looked after by its own panel of botanical experts called the Cypripedium Committee, was brought back from the brink of extinction by scientists at Kew Gardens.

Welcome to Yorkshire is exhibiting it as part of its artisan entry, Le Jardin de Yorkshire.

The tourism body is currently discussing how it will protect the rare flower, including bringing in additional security during the show, which starts on Tuesday.

Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: "The orchid will be a star of our garden and we are working with the Cypripedium Committee to ascertain if we need to have additional manpower on the garden to guarantee its safety.

"When you have the UK's rarest orchid on your garden you need to take every precaution to protect it and we are having those conversations. I'm sure people will flock to see this rare specimen and to learn more about its successful conservation programme."

The Lady's Slipper is strictly protected by law, and cuttings once fetched bids of thousands of pounds from unscrupulous collectors. The orchids being featured in Le Jardin de Yorkshire are direct descendants from the last wild orchid growing in the UK, which is under warden protection during summer months.

Lady's Slipper orchids have been planted across the north of England at a handful of locations including Kilnsey Park Estate in North Yorkshire.

Jamie Roberts, managing director of Kilnsey Park Estate, who is closely involved with the conservation programme, added: "This is a wonderful opportunity for visitors to Chelsea to see the UK's rarest wildflower outside of its natural habitat. It is testament to the extraordinary work Natural England and Kew Gardens have done that we are able to take a Lady's Slipper orchid to Chelsea, and while security is uppermost in all our minds, so is raising awareness of the plant's success story, from the brink of extinction to being showcased at the world's most famous flower show in its 100th year."

Le Jardin de Yorkshire celebrates the county's successful bid to host the Tour de France. As well as the Lady's Slipper orchid the garden will also feature a wild flower meadow through which a peloton of cyclists will speed, passing the dry stone walls of the Yorkshire Dales. The garden will also mark the dual centenaries of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and the 100th running of the Tour de France and help raise the profile of Yorkshire's famous gardens.

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