‘Orchidelirium’: how a modern-day flower madness is fuelling the illegal trade


With traffickers taking species from the wild before they are even recorded, one of the UK’s oldest constabularies is on guard at Kew Gardens

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John Deer runs a peculiar operation. As Kew Gardens’ security manager it is his job to protect the 1.8 million people that visit every year. It is also his job to make sure plants and cuttings do not vanish from the botanical collection while the public are on the royal estate. To do so, members of one of the UK’s oldest constabularies patrol the grounds and officers keep watch from a state-of-the-art control room.

“We’ve had people climb over the perimeter walls to access the gardens. It’s why we have 24-hour security,” Deer says, noting that there is still the occasional breach. “But the orchids, I would say, are more protected.”

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