7 Unforgettable ORCHID SPECTACLES
EARLY SPIDER ORCHID
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.