7 Un­for­get­table ORCHID SPEC­TA­CLES

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Orchids -


DANC­ING LEDGE, DORSET COASTAL GRASS­LAND APRIL/MAY Surely one of the finest orchid spec­ta­cles Bri­tain has to of­fer is the an­nual flow­er­ing of many thou­sands of early spi­der or­chids on this pic­turesque sec­tion of the Purbeck coast­line, part of the Juras­sic Coast. The south-fac­ing slopes are stud­ded with flow­ers – they’re sim­ply un­miss­able.


MUS­TON MEAD­OWS NNR, LE­ICES­TER­SHIRE UNIM­PROVED GRASS­LAND MAY Of­fer­ing a glimpse of what many hay mead­ows across Eng­land would once have looked like be­fore the ad­vent of in­ten­sive agri­cul­ture and ar­ti­fi­cial fer­tilis­ers,s, Mus­ton Mead­ows in May is ho ome to some 10,000 green-win nged or­chids.


THE BURREN, IRE­LAND LIME­STONE PAVE­MENT MAY The Burren is truly a botan­i­cal won­der­land, boast­ing a wide ar­ray of wild­flow­ers the likes of which can be seen nowhere else in the Bri­tish Isles. Th­ese in­clude our only densedense-flowe­flow­ered or­chids, though in April it’s ea arly pur­ple or­chids that steal the e show.


SAND­WICH BAY, KENT COASTAL GRASS­LAND JUNE/JULY One of our most dra­matic or­chids can be seen – and smelled – in great num­bers at Sand­wich Bay. Lizard or­chids are large and im­pos­ing, with im­prob­a­ble flow­ers that put their trop­i­cal coun­ter­parts to shame. This part of east Kent is their Bri­tish heart­land.


BISHOP MID­DLE­HAM QUARRY, CO DURHAM MAGNESIAN LIME­STONE GRASS­LAND JUNE/JULY This long-aban­doned quarry is a hid­den gem. Within its shel­tered bounds is Bri­tain’s largest colony of dark-red helle­borines. They grow across the quarry floor and up the slop­ing sides and ter­races.


HOLY IS­LAND, NORTHUM­BER­LAND DUNE SLACKS JUNE/JULY One cor­ner of this iso­lated is­land hosts the en­tire world pop­u­la­tion of Lindisfarne helle­borines. Only a few hun­dred plants flower in a given year, so they’re hard to find – but thou­sands of in­di­vid­ual or­chids s of other species bloom here too.


GLAS­GOW IN­NER CITY AND SUB­URBS JULY/AU­GUST De­fy­ing our ev­ery pre­con­ceived idea of or­chids be­ing del­i­cate and fussy, broad-leaved helle­borines are ev­ery­where in Glas­gow in late sum­mer. You don’t need to look hard – they’re grow­ing in gar­dens and waste­land and even on the round­about out­side the air­port.

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