GREEN-WINGED orchids, now uncommon due to the widespread drainage of wet meadows, flourish in their thousands in the Wildlife Trust’s Bernwood Meadows nature reserve.
On Sunday May 10, Tim Read from the Bernwood Forest project is leading guided walks through ancient Bernwood Forest to Bernwood Meadows to see this spectacular display of orchids with their stunning purple flowers.
It’s worth making the trip to Bernwood Meadows, near the village of Horton-cumStudley on the eastern side of Oxford to see these very special plants at their best in the first two weeks of May.
Green-winged orchids thrive in damp and unimproved grassland, which means pasture that has had no fertiliser or pesticides.
Bernwood od Meadows hasn’t been cultivated for a very long time, and the damp furrows across the fields provide the ideal conditions tions for these specialecial plants.
Although the stubby flower spikes are purple, and in some cases shades of pink or even a white form, the hood at the back of the flower has parallel veins in green or bronze.
These distinctive veins and the lack of spots on the wide leaves, make the green-winged distinctive from the taller early – purple orchids.
If you would like to know more about the plants and butterflies of wildflower meadows, then make a date this summer to visit Meadow Farm, the Wildlife Trust’s recent acquisition in the Upper Ray Living Landscape area.
Like Bernwood Meadows, the 28 hectares of fields at Meadow Farm are unimproved, and just now show the vivid difference between ridge and furrow through the wide stripes of bright yellow buttercups growing on the ridges, contrasting with the verdant grass in the furrows. Later in June these fields are a kaleidoscope of colourful flowers and butterflies.
Guided walks at Meadow Farm start on Saturday May 16 and continue at weekends and some evenings throughout June.
Look up details on www.bbowt.org.uk/ whats-on. Groups are welcome and can book walks with the Meadow Farm team on 01869 245864.
Wendy Tobbit is the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust