15 July 2009

Orchids in our garden

Soon after we moved here we found some orchid plants appearing in our lawn. These turned out to be five Common Spotted Orchids (Dactylorhiza fuchsii) and one Greater Butterfly Orchid (Platanthera chlorantha). We were very excited to have such beautiful "weeds," and stopped cutting our lawn in the summer in an attempt to encourage them.

The numbers always rose each year, but slowly at first. Then, after 5 years, the numbers started rising much faster. That year (2002) we had 57 Common Spotted Orchids, though only 2 Greater Butterfly Orchids. We assume that it takes a little longer for the Butterfly Orchids to mature from seed as the number did not begin to increase until 2006 when we had 5.

This year the number of Common Spotted Orchids has risen to 594, though strangely 115 of these are growing in our alpine tubs, having seeded themselves there and not planted by me. As you can see, there has also been rather a large increase in the number of buttercups!

Meanwhile the number of Butterfly Orchids in flower has risen to 11, with a number of non-flowering plants also present.

In 2006 I was clearing some wood at the side of our house when I discovered that I had broken off two spikes of Broad-leaved Helleborine (Epipactis helleborine) which I hadn't noticed. Fortunately they reappeared the next year and have had 4 flowering spikes every year since then.


Anonymous said...

I'm from Northern Ireland and moved into our current house over 10 years ago. The lawn was always kept short until last year, when we decided to see what would grow if we let it. We were amazed to have 2 Common Spotted Orchid flower spikes and 2 non flowering. This year, I've found 22 orchids, with none flowering yet. There are meadows near our house with Greater Butterfly Orchid, so fingers crossed!
When looking through your blog, I was able to identify a weird plant I've noticed this year on the lawn- Adder's Tongue!
Our lawns seem quite similar! Can't wait until the orchids start sowing themselves in the pots!

Fred and Sarah said...

How interesting that you have such a similar lawn! Adder's tongue is quite rare here, and ours were the only ones known in our vice-county, though I haven't seen them for a few years now.
I hope that your orchids will increase as successfully as ours did, and that you'll soon have some Butterfly Orchids as well. There is a good chance you'll get them if they are growing nearby as the seeds are very light and easily get blown by the wind. We admired Helleborines in other people's gardens for several years before they arrived in ours.

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