The Early Purple orchids herald the start of the flowering season, so by this time of the year there is no chance of mixing them up with anything else, the spotted leaves distinguishing them from the next most likely species, the Green Winged orchid. It is not just the flowers which are a delight with this plant, have a look at this picture I took recently.
Leaves and flower bud of an Early Purple orchid in April. The bud is white when it starts and the leaves are distinctly spotted and blotched, rather than the banding you find on Common Spotted orchids. We often see these plants in amongst the
The appearance of primrose flowers in our small orchid meadow shows us that Spring is very definitely here. While the eye is captivated by the flowers, it is all those small dicotyledon seedlings which are of particular interest to us at this time of year. Besides the usual range of clovers and buttercups there are also the tell tale signs of nature's lawnmower, Yellow Rattle.
Right in the middle of the photograph above is a new seedling of Yellow Rattle. This is the best control of grass I know. It is sometimes described as semi-parasitic on grasses and although it will grow on its own, it prefers to tap the roots of grass. When it does that the grass has a very much restricted growth. This is so much better than clearing a patch of ground and seeding it with wildflowers. If you do that the balance will be all over the place and what grows and establishes will be a kind of strange mixture of what should and should not grow together. I suppose it appeals to the instant gardener to do it that way, but it is so much better to keep the orchid growing area in balance by providing a normal process of biological control. We intend to start providing Yellow Rattle seed for sale next year when we have a plentiful supply from our own plants.
This year saw a large production of sycamore seed and we constantly keep our eyes peeled for the seedlings as they pop up in place we don't want them.
Our orchids are all growing well and we should have Green Winged plants for sale very soon.
Common Spotted Orchids start to show real growth in April. Their new green leaves show the distinctive purple spotting that is so characteristic of the species.
This time of year sees an increase in activity amongst the wild orchids. This sort of activity is not limited to plants of course. We have already had interest in our old apple tree from a pair of Nuthatches looking for a nesting hole. In the Wyre forest the Chiff-Chaffs have returned from Southern Africa to brighten the spring with their calls. A few warm days also brings out some of the early butterflies, mostly the hibernators now looking for nectar to get their year off to an active start.
Our seeds, planted last year, are now well advanced. Many of them have already been sub-cultured into different medium to help them grow. Some have even been so prolific in their growth that they are ready to transplant into pots.
Dr Wilson Wall, grower of orchids. A scientist by inclination and training.