We have 400 different species in our National Collection of Orchids made up of more than 2,500 enchantingly colourful, exotic plants.

(Please note that visitor access to this collection is by prior appointment only. Please call reception on 01244 380280)

It's probably the largest orchid collection on public display in North West England.

You'll be amazed by these show-stoppers, which we grow in our high-tech greenhouse. As they flower we put them on display in our Plant Paradise for all our visitors to enjoy.

Among our plants is a National Collection of orchids, which means we've pledged to care for, develop and conserve these wonderful species for future generations. We are the joint holder of the Plant Heritage National Collection of the orchid species Plerothallidinae, first started in the early 1990s by Steve Manning, a private orchid grower from Nantwich, Cheshire.

Today we have more than 1,500 of these truly special plants, originating from South America, where many are now threatened with extinction in the wild. Our collection helps safeguard this species from being wiped out altogether.

Worldwide there are about 30,000 known orchid species. They're the largest flowering plant family and can survive in many different climates and conditions from tropical forests to seashores, semi-deserts and tundras.

You'll find them in every colour of the rainbow, from sunny yellow to darkest purple. They have various different scents too, some deliciously sweet, others 'hold your nose' horrible!

At the end of the 19th century orchids were taken from the wild and shipped to Europe in their thousands, but they rarely lived for more than a couple of years.

Fortunately most orchids generally on sale in UK florists and shops today are not taken from the wild but have been purposely grown in special nurseries.

That said those in the wild are still in danger as forests are cut down for farming and urban development. 

National Collections of plants are run by the Plant Heritage Scheme, which we support. There are more than 600 collections around the country and they are an important way of conserving plant species and cultivars.

For more details see the Plant Heritage website www.nccpg.com

Read more