We were thrilled to discover a carpet of spotted orchids on the slopes of the South Downs, above Lewes on our recent expedition. Nothing beats seeing these delicately beautiful, intricate and extraordinary flowers gently swaying in a summer breeze. After years of decline, the orchid is making a comeback in the British countryside, and one of its biggest fans is The Prince of Wales.
A week after our adventure, there was a fascinating piece in The Daily Telegraph revealing how the green-fingered Prince loves to count the orchids in his wild flower meadow at Highgrove.
This year Prince Charles has 170 orchids in his meadow, up from a mere 77 last year. When he bought the Highgrove estate in1980, there were no orchids at all. All the new arrivals have blown in from the surrounding fields or seeded from hay brought in for the livestock. Debs Goodenough, his head gardener says that her boss counts the tiny flowers, mostly southern marsh orchid and common spotted orchid, hidden in three acres of meadows, and delights in keeping a close eye on their progress. She says that only someone who knows every inch of the garden would be able to find the flowers.
Debs, a Canadian by birth has been looking after the gardens at Highgrove for the past two years and says The Boss loves nothing better than to arrive home, put his boots on and go and work in the garden; it’s his haven of calm, and an escape from a busy, high profile life.