A BEAUTIFUL wild flower has surprised staff at the historic National Trust property Wakehurst Place.

The bee orchid is usually seen on the chalk hills of southern England but this one has spread into a thriving colony in the highly acidic clay soil at the country garden. Dr Chris Clennet, garden manager, said: “When the first one appeared, we were amazed.

“The fact that one appeared was surprising. The fact that it thrived and turned into a colony is amazing.”

The vast array of flowers resembles the bees they are named after.

Trudy Ede, horticulturalist, is proud of the display provided by the wild flowers.

She said: “Each year more of their intriguing blooms are appearing in a soil type they shouldn’t be thriving on.”

The country garden near Ardingly in West Sussex is set on 180 acres of gardens, woodland and water features and is open all year, with free entry for children aged under 17.

Wakehurst Place is one of the National Trust’s most visited properties.