Friday, 7 June 2013

Frost Free and Fancy

This has been a particularly spectacular year for orchids, and the peak season still has more than a month to go. All the wild orchids have appreciated the cool moist conditions, flowering generously in response to the first really consistently wet spring for a decade.

Two species in particular have benefitted, not just from the rain, but from the relatively high minimum temperatures over the last 6 months. It has been a miserable winter and spring from the point of view of many rainy days and not much sun, but it has been the maximum temperatures which have been low, not the minimums. There has been remarkably few frosts, and for the frost tender species who have had to struggle through the unusual periods of snow and frost of the previous few years, this is as much a relief as the rain.

As a consequence, this year the Greater Butterfly Platanthera chlorantha and the Monkey Orchis simia Orchids are both putting on better shows than we have seen for about 5 or 6 years. These are both common roadside orchids that have been notable by their relative absence for a few years, and are making a very welcome return this year. In a good year, the colonies of Monkey Orchids are very noticeable as crowds of pink flower spikes in the grass. The Greater Butterflies are more discreet, but groups of their starry spires are easy to spot on grassy banks once you know what to look for.


  1. I like the catterpillar just begining to pupate on the Monkey...
    The Helleborines are also giving a good show... we've seen them where we've never noticed them before...
    viz: Just coming out of Le Grand Pressigny on the Barrou road...
    Masses on the right hand side.

  2. Tim: All three Cephalanthera Helles are flowering at the moment -- you don't get them simultaneously in many years.

  3. Aha... I think a visit to "Les Roches des Sorciers" at Angles on Angling is called for... there are red ones at the bottom of the site.

  4. Tim: no need to go that far -- they are out at Chaumussay.

  5. Your series of orchid photographs have been a real was one of the pleasures of spring finding singles or stands of them.

  6. Fly: You're welcome, and there's lots more to come.