The Wild About Orchids Festival (June 4-10) at Kilnsey Park, near Skipton in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park will showcase eight types of orchid (including the rare Lady’s Slipper) among more than 150 species of wildflowers and grasses. Kilnsey Park also boasts red squirrels and is part of the UK’s red squirrel captive breeding programme.
The Lady’s Slipper orchid (Cypripedium Calceolus) was thought to be extinct until a single plant was rediscovered growing in the Yorkshire Dales in 1930. A conservation group-The Cypripedium Committee-co-ordinates conservation work for the plant and organises its propagation across northern England. Working with Kew Gardens the group successfully reintroduced the orchid back into the countryside on a number of sites, including the Kilnsey Estate, which was selected as one of the first opportunities to see the orchids in the wild. The wild plant is guarded during its flowering period each year to prevent theft or damage.
During the festival there will be special walks and talks organised by the experts who have helped to return the Lady’s Slipper to Yorkshire. There will be a special ‘Orchid High Tea’ served in the estate café. Wild About Orchids forms part of the Flowers of the Dales Festival 2012.
Kilnsey Park is part of the Kilnsey Estate which dates back to the 1100s when monks from Fountains Abbey farmed sheep on the land. The monks ran the estate for 400 years until the land was sold by Henry VIII.