Lycaste Wyld Court 'Sir William Cooke' FCC RHS
Lycaste Wyld Court 'Sir William Cooke' FCC RHS is probably one of the pinnacle Lycastes to come out of the collection of Wyld Court Orchids. This superbly shaped cultivar long reigned supreme as the best red Lycaste in the world. Believed to be a tetraploid is has good substance to its flowers. On some years the quality of the bloom can improve on that illustrated when cultural conditions are favorable. It is not an easy plant to grow, even for an expert.
Wyld Court Orchids grew from the collection of Sir William Cooke, in the small Berkshire village of Hampstead Norreys in the 1920's . Two of Sir William's passions were breeding race horses and raising tropical orchids in heated greenhouses. During the war years much of the collection was sent to the USA and helped establish breeding lines for the American orchid industry. Cymbidium Blue Smoke, named after a racehorse winner, originated at Wyld Court Orchids and has continued to provide enjoyment as an easy-to-grow Cymbidium, popular for outdoor culture in west coast USA.
Over time Wyld Court Orchids build up one of the great private UK collections by breeding and hybridizing a whole range of plants. The interest in Cymbidiums and Lycastes predominated and along with Paphiopedilums they built up a unique and thriving collection. Wyld Court plants and breeding lines, gained many awards from the RHS and the nursery exported plants worldwide.
With time the collection passed to Sir William's daughter Betty and in her capable hands turned into a commercial venture open to the public to sell orchid plants. Glasshouses expanded at the Wyld Court site to total 6, including a large Cymbidium house of over 100 ft by 100ft. At the same time Betty developed a commercial cut flower business on the Island of Madeira with her husband. Mrs. Betty Garton is well known on the island and has contributed considerably to raising the profile of orchids for export and improving the breeding quality of the local Cymbidium stock, which for many years have also been sold by flower sellers. Such efforts adding considerably to local generated export income.
Running the two orchid nurseries allowed a huge selection of seedlings to be evaluated as hundreds of thousands of seedlings passed through the flowering process. Seedlings were flasked in the UK and then when large enough exported to Madeira when they were grown with less heat. Some of the seedlings were also flowered out at Wyld Court for evaluation under UK glasshouse conditions.
Wyld Court Orchids was looked after by John Banks for all of his working life. First working for Sir William and then in later years for his daughter and then retiring in 1978. The nursery continued to trade for a few years longer, but under commercial pressure ceased as a commercial orchid nursery. Much of the plant stock was exported to the island of Madeira, the remainder being sold.
Betty Garton's knowledge about orchids is legendary, for a lifetime spent breeding stock and selecting plants has allowed a huge accumulation of knowledge and expertise. With special interest in Lycastes, Cymbidiums and Paphiopedilums - the study of their genetics and breeding patterns has led Betty to many successes in the creation of orchid blooms.
The site of Wyld Court orchids has in recent years had a number of plant ventures, including development as Wyld Court Rain Forest. At present it is the Living Rainforest working as a conservation based venture
My association with Wyld Court Orchids was working as a grower with the team John, Fay Banks and Kathy Layton and the support of the Garton family. It was a great learning experience and good to be able enjoy and accumulate knowledge on how to grow orchids in a commercial environment.
The orchids of Wyld Court can now be seen in all their glory - many years later, growing on the Island of Madeira. Here at the orchid nursery many other tropical plants can be found growing to perfection, as the love of plants in the Garton household extends to a whole range of botanical exotics.
Quinta da Boa Vista Orchids, Rua Lombo da Boa Vista, 9050 Funchal, Madeira.