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Lady's Slipper rare orchid to have Chelsea show security

Lady's Slipper orchid
Image caption The Lady's Slipper orchid is notoriously difficult to grow

Britain's rarest flower will have its own personal security guards when it goes on display at next week's Chelsea Flower Show.

The Lady's Slipper orchid was rescued from extinction by scientists and is strictly protected by wildlife laws.

It will be part of the Le Jardin de Yorkshire exhibition, promoted by tourism body Welcome to Yorkshire.

A panel of botanical experts, the Cypripedium Committee, volunteer to look after and protect the rare flower.

Officials from Welcome to Yorkshire are in discussion about the security arrangements for the flower show, which is celebrating its centenary year.

"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," chief executive Gary Verity said.

"I'm sure people will flock to see this rare specimen and to learn more about its successful conservation programme."

'Brink of extinction'

The flower had been thought to be extinct but was found by chance growing in Yorkshire in the 1930s.

Michael Tibbs, a South African orchid expert who worked at Kew Gardens, said exactly where the plant was found was a closely guarded secret.

"It's only known to a very few people," he said. "It's an extremely rare plant and they've tried to keep it secret for many years."

It is thought a Lady's Slipper cutting could fetch up to £5,000.

They have been planted at various locations across the north of England, including on North Yorkshire's Kilnsey Park Estate.

"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", said the estate's managing director Jamie Roberts.

"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 one hundredth year."

The Le Jardin de Yorkshire exhibition celebrates the centenary of both the Chelsea Flower Show and the Tour De France, which is due to run through Yorkshire for the first time in July 2014.

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