Wild orchids in our garden

Lady orchid - Orchis purpurea

The lady orchid, Orchis purpurea, is fairly close to the monkey orchid and they can interbreed to produce natural hybrids. Lady orchids are, however, much larger and quite variable. They like lightly woodland, woodland clearings and tracks through woodland.

With their broad leaves lifted over the leaf litter, they make the most of the light filter down through the trees. The stem is long enough to lift the flower spike above scrub. They would not survive in the open as, when cut or grazed close to the ground, they would lose all their leaves.

The French call them purple orchids, although in our garden they are more red than purple. They are taller than cultivated hybrid hyacinths and bicolour with the hood darker than the spotted skirt.

Sometimes the lady orchids in the area have flowers that are almost black and white - this photo was taken at the side of a shady road not far from the house.

More often the hood is purple and the skirt spotted pink - this photo was taken on a scrubby bank in the area.

Click the pictures to show them full size

Lizard orchid - Himantoglossum hircinium

Wild orchids in our garden

Greater butterfly orchid - Platanthera chlorantha

From French cornfield to English garden

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