Monday, May 11, 2009

Woodland orchids (Jodie Randall)

Early Purple Orchids

Bluebells


The first orchids are beginning to bloom here in the south east of England. A walk through some local woodland revealed an explosion of colour. A thick carpet of bluebells is now covering the woodland floor, broken up by patches of bright yellow lesser celandine flowers that are so vivid they appear to glow in the sunlight. Groups of delicate white wood anemones are scattered here and there, but the real jewels are the early purple orchids.
Lying down in a small clearing, careful not to squash any flowers, I was able to get a better angle to take my shots. The woodland floor was alive with insects. Spiders scuttled all around me, and earthworms weaved their way deep down into the mud. Butterflies flitted energetically above the bluebells, settling now and again, but only for a split second. Caterpillars hung from the acid green leaves suspended by threads of silk, twirling in the gentle breeze like wind spirals, while clouds of gnats were less welcome, biting me whenever I kept still for a moment.
There were only between fifteen and twenty orchids in the woodland, all in a relatively small patch. Quite the reverse of last spring when during a trip north to the Peak District National Park, I was greeted by thousands of early purple orchids adorning the chalky hills. Even though the orchids in my local woodland are not anywhere close to this in number, there is something particularly special about discovering things on your own local patch.

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