Saying Happy Father’s Day with a bunch of wild orchids

Bee Orchid with fathers day greeting

One of the primary motivations for embarking on this blog was as a Father’s Day gift last year, as a tool for communicating how things were going with the new bees, given that Dad was a major venture capitalist in the hive & honey project (a generous birthday gift). And given that he is interested in many aspects of nature, especially all things botanical – being a fabulous plantsman blessed with truly green fingers.

On safari in the garden, a few days ago, I came across this beauty, the Bee Orchid, which ties the two themes of bees and botany rather neatly together. It was a moment of pure serendipity, discovering such a beautiful flower, just metres from the house. I counted nine such stems in all.

Bee orchid (Ophyrys apifera)

Bee orchid (Ophyrys apifera)

As if that wasn’t enough, a few minutes further into the safari, my eye was drawn to this rather tangled bloom…

Lizard Orchid (Himantoglossum hircinum)

Lizard Orchid (Himantoglossum hircinum)

It’s a lizard orchid and the petals unfurl from the bottom of the stem to the top, and the largest specimen, over by the hen house,  is over a metre tall (a record 115 centimeters to be exact – I’ve just had to update Wikipedia!)

Wild Lizard Orchid, with furled petals

I was now on a roll, and soon spotted a third wild orchid -a pyramid orchid. There is a veritable patch of them, and they have superceded the grape hyacinth – at first glance I took them to be close cousins.

Pyramid Orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis)

Pyramid Orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis)

And finally, this single Tongue Orchid, discovered a few weeks ago is still going strong, despite the threat from the lawn mower.

Tongue Orchid (Serapias lingua)

Tongue Orchid (Serapias lingua)

Happy Father’s Day, Dad – I can’t claim to have spent many an hour nurturing these beauties in a greenhouse or on a window sill, but I do hope that you like this bunch of wildflowers, free in many senses of the word.

Born Free

Born Free

Advertisements

Wildflowers : Of verges and vergers

Californian poppy ~ Eschscholzia californica

Californian poppy ~ Eschscholzia californica

One of the positive aspects of all the recent rain is the proliferation of wildflowers, now coating the banks at the side of the road, nestling in amongst the hedgerows and cornfields, and blanketing areas of uncultivated land. They are also appearing in and around the garden, vegetable plot and orchard (perhaps I should note that the french for ‘orchard’ is ‘verger’ – hence the title of the post).

The poppies win my Wildflower of the Week award,  photogenically colouring the roadside with their cheerful, deep red tones.

poppies swaying in the breeze

poppies swaying in the breeze

Last year, we decided to have a go at planting our own wildflower meadow, and cleared an area around an ancient pear tree. We chose a mix of flowers that would attract insects deemed beneficial to the vegetable garden, together, of course, with bee-friendly wildflower seeds. Nettles and other unappealing weeds were removed, the earth laid bare and the seeds duly scattered. And we waited. And nothing. And then the nettles and other horrid weeds came back.

But then this year, as if by magic, a colourful carpet of mixed wildflowers has sprouted up. They are a bit localised and bunched together – but quite magnificent. The marigolds are particularly vigorous – these came from seeds left over from companion planting for the tomatoes (they repel nematodes and slugs).

Pear Tree Meadow

Pear Tree Meadow

In a different style, but nonetheless wild, I was thrilled to find this orchid, sitting majestically alone in the middle of a patch of grass (too unkempt to call ‘lawn’), lucky to have escaped the blades of the tractor. It belongs to the Tongue Orchid family.

Tongue Orchid ~ Serapias lingua

Tongue Orchid ~ Serapias lingua

Credit to Amelia (https://afrenchgarden.wordpress.com/2013/05/03/of-the-well-trodden-paths/) for alerting me to these wild orchids – didn’t think I would spot one so soon after reading about them, let alone in my very own garden.

Flitting about in the garden are quite a few of these butterflies – the Heath Fritillary. In the UK, they are considered to be threatened, but not so in France – where their preferred habitat is given as pasture or unimproved hay-meadow (an apt description of the lower part of our ‘garden’).

Heath Fritillary ~ Melitaea athalia

Heath Fritillary ~ Melitaea athalia

a rather tatty Peacock Butterfly (Inachis io) feasting on chive flower

a rather tatty Peacock Butterfly (Inachis io) feasting on chive flower

And finally, here’s a shot of something not terribly wild, my faithful hound, posing in amongst the poppies.

Blog the Dog

Blog the Dog