Floral twitchers head for the woods

HUNDREDS of green-fingered visitors are expected to descend on a wood to get a glimpse at a rare flower.Known only to two sites in the whole country, the Military Orchid can be seen as part of an annual open day at a reserve in Mildenhall woods.

HUNDREDS of green-fingered visitors are expected to descend on a wood to get a glimpse at a rare flower.

Known only to two sites in the whole country, the Military Orchid can be seen as part of an annual open day at a reserve in Mildenhall woods.

Every year the event attracts botanical enthusiasts from all over the country, who are keen to see the extraordinary flower that sometimes has up to 80 spikes.

It is called a Military Orchid as, up close, it looks like a soldier wearing a helmet, and can be seen at the Rex Graham reserve.


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Yvonne Leonard, who helps her husband David maintain the reserve, which is managed by Suffolk Wildlife Trust, said the flower had been discovered growing in the chalk pit in 1954.

"The pit was a jungle back then, but over the years has been transformed into a wonderful reserve," she added.

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"The open day is a very colourful and happy occasion, and it's nice for us to see people appreciating the beauty of this rare flower after spending all year looking after it."

Visitors will have the chance to view the orchid and the may other plants and flowers growing in the forest during the open day, which will run from 11am until 4pm on Monday May 31.

There will also be stalls and refreshments on sale and a chance to view and purchase botanical paintings by Mr and Mrs Leonard's daughter, Jane Tutchener.

All funds raised from the open day will go to Suffolk Wildlife Trust and visitors should wear stout shoes.

Rex Graham reserve will be signposted on the day - it is located three-quarters of a mile from the Fiveways A11 roundabout, on the Barton Mills to Bury St Edmunds road.

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