Mag­i­cal or­chids

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - GREEN SPACES -

JUST when you think noth­ing can sur­pass the mag­nif­i­cent blue­bell vis­tas, or wild flow­ers of the mead­ows, up spring the or­chids!

These are not the ex­otic flow­ers wrapped in plas­tic in the lo­cal su­per­mar­ket, but thou­sands of flower spikes that ap­pear sud­denly from the chalk grass­lands across the Chilterns.

One day you visit a na­ture re­serve and see a green sward of grass, and five days later it’s full of pink, pur­ple, creamy-white and green flow­ers of or­chids – as if by magic!

Phil Townsend, the war­den at As­ton Clin­ton Rag­pits, is thrilled with the ex­cep­tional dis­play on the na­ture re­serve. More than 100 white helle­borines and over 200 greater but­ter­fly or­chids (one is pic­tured) were counted on 13 June, and thehe tally of chalk fra­grantorchids is likely to ex­ceed 6,000.

The num­bers of greater but­ter­fly orchid are im­pres­sive be­cause it’s more than dou­ble last year’s to­tal, and that was a good year too.

This is mainly due to the care­ful man­age­ment of this old quarry, rag­stone was used for lo­cal build­ings, which was res­cued by the Wildlife Trust when it was ear­marked to be a rub­bish dump. Sheep graze the chalk grass­land in win­ter, and dili­gent vol­un­teers cut back scrub to keep it open for the flow­ers.

Greater but­ter­fly orchid

Or­chids at Grange­lands

On 5 July, lo­cal orchid ex­pert Peter Creed is lead­ing a guided walk among the or­chids and other beau­ties of Grange­lands and nearby Pulpit Hill, near Prince Ris­bor­ough. You’re sure to see spec­tac­u­lar swathes of chalk fra­grant-or­chids and the rare musk orchid too.

Grange­lands is long-renowned for su­perb dis­plays of the now un­usual wild flow­ers of the Chilterns chalk grass­lands and the but­ter­flies as­so­ci­ated with them. Look out for mar­bled white, green hairstreak, sil­ver-washed frit­il­lary and chalkhill blue but­ter­flies.

Take your binoc­u­lars and cam­era to make the most of the walk and en­joy the whole ex­pe­ri­ence.

Book your place at whats-on or go to the Re­serves page and choose another Chilterns site to ex­plore.

Wendy Tob­bit is the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust media man­ager. Her col­umn ap­pears regularly

Pic­ture: Kate Tit­ford

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