Orchid Glade reserve lies at the eastern edge of White House Farm at Hasketon near Woodbridge. Once part of the Boulge Hall Estate, this tenanted farm was sold in 1927. It was purchased at auction by the Palmer family who owned the land until Tom Palmer’s death in 1992. Following an accident in the 1950s Tom was unable to continue cultivating the arable fields, which reverted to a semi-natural state.
The land changed hands in 1993, but continued to be managed for nature conservation by the new owners, Mr and Mrs Laurie Parker. In 1996, the ten-acre field now known as Orchid Glade was planted with mixed broadleaf woodland directly into the plough furrows from the last cultivation; these are still apparent today. In 2002, the whole farm was listed as a County Wildlife Site. In 2005, White House Farm was purchased by Sinfield Trust for Nature Conservation, with a financial contribution from the Executors of the Bequest of Francis Simpson to Suffolk Flora Preservation Trust. In 2013 Sinfield Trustees conveyed ownership of Orchid Glade to the Suffolk Flora Preservation Trust.
Since 2013, Orchid Glade has been managed by volunteer Guardians. This reserve showcases the Trust's commitment to the natural processes of 'wilding'. Past the locked gate, there is parking for six cars. North from this green car-park, an adventure footpath marked by posts on its outer side leads through an encircling band of dense woodland, so dark that there is scanty ground flora. The inner side of this path is closed by thickets of slender ash saplings, many of them affected by fatal die-back. Both ends of the path emerge into the central Glade — an uplifting open space, scattered with single trees and clumps of briar or bramble. These shrubby features are shaped by browsing fallow deer and muntjac, and the same deer, along with hares and rabbits, graze the open ground.
ln Spring, the short turf carries the gaze to the bounding woodland. As the season advances, the eye is drawn closer by the richness of the ground flora among which, by early Summer, a search will find flowering twayblades, southern marsh orchids and spotted orchids to justify the name of this small reserve — but its true wildness emerges in July and August. Then, the rich Suffolk clay-land flora is in full bloom and bees, hoverflies and butterflies abound. Newly emerged dragonflies and damsels dash around the three ponds, still home to late tadpoles of frogs, common toads and great crested newts. ln such varied habitats, birds abound at all seasons: records include ever-present soaring buzzards, a greylag goose, grey heron, paired mallard, and the inevitable cock pheasant.
Flora and fauna are all protected by the enclosing space, which is always open to Guardians, to enchant the mind and restore the spirit.
Visit the Orchid Glade gallery to see images of Orchid Glade and subscribe to the website for regular updates and information about upcoming open days.
When it is, or has been, wet you most decidely will need your wellies at Orchid Glade! See the drone video — especially the winter part!
☞ To provide protection to sensitive flora, the gates to both reserves are normally locked, and the reserves are closed to unauthorised visitors. Each site is open two or three mornings a year when members of the public are welcome. Visit our Open Days page for more information.