I can’t honestly remember a better year for seeing orchids than this one is turning out to be so far. We went for a walk today in a local nature reserve that used to just be a disused quarry when we were kids. Nature has now crept back in with a vengeance and it was beautiful wandering round today in the sunshine, seeing the tall birches, butterflies and flowers and hearing nothing but birds. We often go up there for the view – in the pancake flat area we live in, at only a couple of hundred feet up you get a panoramic view across the coastal plain.
These were a different sort to yesterday though, and were growing in what was clearly quite a marshy bit of ground. So we reckon these are marsh orchids, and were amazed at how tall they were – some must have been nearly a foot high.
The flowers are just amazing, and look so exotic all gathered together in one place. Orchids do seem to like old quarry sites – I remember years ago seeing huge patches of them on old spoil heaps from coal mines near the side of a motorway. But they’re almost impossible to grow yourself – though orchids produce thousands of seeds, apparently most are infertile and even the fertile ones sometimes have to co-exist with the right sort of fungi before they will grow and thrive. Which makes sights like this especially rare and beautiful, and I always worry that people may not appreciate them properly by picking them, or worse, digging them up, and not realise what a scarce and wonderful plant they are damaging. But today, they were magnificent in their abundance.