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Different Journeys: 'Chasing the Ghost' by Peter Marren

Exhibitions and events

Different Journeys: 'Chasing the Ghost' by Peter Marren

4.30pm, Shandy Hall, Coxwold

General event

Ticket: £3.00

Peter Marren has been a devoted flower finder all his life. While the Ghost Orchid offers the toughest challenge of any wild plant, there were fifty more British species Peter had yet to see, having ticked off the first 1,400 rummaging in hedges, slipping down gullies and peering in peat bogs. But he set himself the goal of finding the remaining fifty in a single summer. As it turned out, the wettest summer in years.

Peter's journey, described in his new book Chasing the Ghost, was to seek out the places where some of our rarest wild flowers grow. Setting out in the footsteps of his botanical hero, the Rev. Keble Martin, author of the best-selling Concise British Flora, it became a kind of floral treasure hunt as he seeks to understand why flowers grow where they do, and what, if anything, is being done to help them survive. In the process the quest for rarities also became a study of companionship in the field, of what wild flowers mean to people, and why botany is good for us. And flower-hunting even in Britain, has its adventurous side. At various points the Quest involved climbing, swimming, canoeing, slopping through bogs and a great deal of walking. He was once nearly struck by lightning, and also in fear of drowning. Without wishing to give the end away, the journey was haunted by our one impossible plant, the Ghost Orchid. Having flowered only once during the past thirty years, it mocks our hopes of ever completing the journey. And a good thing too. In botany, as in life, it is better to travel hopefully than to arrive, for the journey is its own reward.

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Places limited.