Anxious wait to see if precious orchids return

Will the pyramidal orchids return to Broadwater Cemetery in Worthing? SUS-160616-174428003
Will the pyramidal orchids return to Broadwater Cemetery in Worthing? SUS-160616-174428003

Wildlife volunteer Paul Robards is eager to see if pyrammidal orchids return to Broadwater Cemetery this year.

The delicate flowers were carefully protected by him for eight years until he had to go into hospital for an operation last year.

That meant the orchids were mown along with the grass and failed to flower at all in 2015.

Paul, wildlife and clearance co-ordinator, explained: “At this same time in late June, the pyrammidal orchid would be coming out. I have been a proud protector of them, guarding the location with a marker post to prevent them being strimmed.

“Over the past few years, I have seen them increase in numbers, from the first sighting of four, then six and finally seven.

“Unfortunately, in 2015 there were nil. I had a hospital operation and could not protect them. They were all cut down with the grass. I am concerned for them not showing this year.”

Paul, of Five Griffiths Avenue, Lancing, has been personally recording the wildlife within the cemetery walls for eight years, including flowers, fungii, butterflies and birds.

“May, June and July are absolutely critical for the wildlife in the cemetery, particularly the butterflies and the insects,” he said.

“There has been a proposal by the Friends of the cemetery that Worthing Borough Council parks officers leave two small areas to give the butterflies a chance to complete their cycle in the spring and early summer months.

“Previously, the council’s regimental four cuts a year and in particular the first one in June have been a disaster and had a great impact on the numbers of butterflies that you would expect to see within the cemetery.”

The orchids are precious as they do not normally grow in clay soil. They are more common on chalk banks such as North Lancing and Edburton. They require a specific fungus to be present in the soil in order to bloom and need to die down naturally in order to continue their growth and reappear the following year.

A Wildlife Wander has been organised by Friends of Broadwater and Worthing Cemetery on July 10 at 2pm. This walk and talk will be led by nature expert Brian Day but Paul will be there to show people what is likely to be expected at this time of year, including the orchids.

Paul has been involved with Broadwater Cemetery since 2008 and set up the Friends group with a dozen other keen volunteers to carry out tidying, maintenance and research within the 14 acres of mature grassland off South Farm Road. The Friends organise tours of the many graves and produce booklets.

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