In a secret dip in the heath, where an old drainage ditch was once dug out of the sandy hillside and where water still runs after heavy rain, I found the orchids once again. Sheltered from walkers, from grazing ponies and from prying eyes, they grow out of the bank between grass and bracken stems. They are here for just a few weeks every summer. Last week we took photographs. Even in a month of drought, this quiet place has enough moisture to make grass green where the orchids grow.
The Collins Book of Complete British Wildlife - Photoguide - by Paul Sterry (1997) describes the Heath Spotted-Orchid, Dactylorhiza maculata :
" Height up to 50cm. Superficially rather similar to the common spotted-orchid but restricted to damp, mostly acid soils on heaths and moors. The leaves are lanceolate and dark spotted, those at the base of the plant being largest and broadest; narrower leaves sheathe the lower parts of the stalk. The flowers are usually very pale, sometimes almost white, but have darker streaks and spots; the lower lip is broad and 3-lobed but unlike the common spotted orchid, the central lobe is smaller than the outer two.Flowers borne in open, spikes, May - August."
Living in the beautiful New Forest, I am a married late-fifties woman, a recently retired teacher and the mother of grown up boys who have flown the nest. I share my days with cats, dogs, ponies and the wildlife all around us. Starting this blog is a chance to explore woods, fields, lanes and heath with my camera. A chance to share the simple pleasures of my country life.