Saturday, 14 June 2014

A look at Orchids !!!

I decided back in May, to have a closer look at Orchids.
 Kent is renowned for its Orchids, if you know where to look,
 and even then, its not easy to track them down.

 I have only  managed to look at the Bonsai Bank, Denge , and the Orchid Bank at Lullingstone, and now as the Orchid seasons draws  to a close, I do not hold out much hope of seeing many more Orchids this year.

I have managed to track down some other venues for next year,  Hutchinson's Bank near Croydon, ParkGate Down or Hector Wilks Reserve, near Elham Kent, and Sandwich Bay to name a few.

There are still many Orchids that have eluded me,  Lizard Orchid, Man Orchid, Monkey Orchid, Fly Orchid, Bee Orchid and Spider Orchid, to name a few that I would love to see in there natural environment, and these are all within the realms of possibility, but these will have to wait until next year.

So as a complete novice, these are the Orchids I have managed to see and photograph this year. with a pleasant surprise near the end.

On my first visit to Bonsai Bank at the beginning of May, the only Orchids I could find were about nine or ten spikes of the
Early Purple Orchid, and most of these were past their best, so maybe an earlier visit next year.

I only managed to find one flowering Lady Orchid at this time.

On my second visit  to the Bonsai Bank, three weeks into May, things had drastically changed, there were Lady Orchids everywhere on the Bank, much the most common Orchid on view.

A close view of the flower spike shows the individual flowers,
very lady like in there appearance

Another attractive Orchid on show was this 
 Greater Butterfly Orchid, quite prominent on the grassy bank and easy to pick out.

Another Orchid found was this Fragrant Orchid, and as the name suggests it did have a pleasant fragrance.

Nearing the end of May, another visit to the Bank , this time with my wife, and again the view had changed, many of the Lady Orchids and Greater Butterfly Orchids were past their Best.
It was now the turn of the Common Spotted Orchid to show, and they were everywhere and made a very attractive view.

Also on show on the grassy banks were these Common Twayblade,
not very impressive but part of the Orchid family

This next member of the Orchid family was pointed out to me by another enthusiast , White Helleborine, and reading up on this one it states that the  flowers rarely fully open.
Not so common, found about four or five specimens.

On my last visit to Bonsai Bank, I came across an Orchid that was just  beginning to open its flowers, much darker than the Fragrant Orchids near by, it just did not seem to fit the descriptions of the local orchids that you would expect to see here on the Bonsai Bank.

I don't know why, but I thought I would send the photograph to the warden who looks after the reserve, Abe Jupp to see if he could identify it for me.

To my surprise he was unfamiliar with it, he thought it may be a hybrid of some sort, but would forward it on to a botanist friend for identification.

A further surprise when I received another email from Abe Jupp 

" Your orchid has been confirmed as Southern Marsh Orchid by Alfred Gay- an unusual record for a dry chalky site and a first for Denge Woods I think. Thanks very much for sending in your useful sighting and keep them coming if you can- I suspect this one is so unusual it may well make the Kent Botany 2014 report! I’ll put your sighting and photos up this evening. "

Well pleased with that response.

Two weeks into June, and a quick walk around Lullingstone country park to find my final Orchid,

 The Pyramidal Orchid so named because of the shape of the flower head. This was probably the most abundant Orchid seen, they were coming through the wildflower meadows, high  on the grassy slopes of the valley, and a much better spectacle than the Orchid Bank, which was very disappointing for me,
seeing only a few Pyramidal Orchids and a few Fragrant Orchids.

So nine different Orchid species seen this year,

Early Purple Orchid
Lady Orchid
Greater Butterfly Orchid
Fragrant Orchid
Common Spotted Orchid
Common Twayblade
White Helleborine
Southern Marsh Orchid
Pyramidal Orchid

  Many more to find in years to come, hopefully.

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