Wild orchids in our garden

This page is dedicated to a very kind lady who put me up while I was on a trip to Germany. I was trying to make conversation in my rather broken German by talking about wild orchids. She could not really believe that we had wild orchids growing in our garden.

I finally caught on. It was not the fact that there were orchids growing in the garden, it was the idea that there was something wild in the garden. Some people have perfect gardens with every leaf in just the right place. It's not quite like that here.


Bee orchid
Orchis apifera


Early spider orchid
Ophrys sphegodes


Monkey orchid
Orchis simia


Lizard orchid
Himantoglossum hircinium


Lady orchid
Orchis purpurea


Greater Butterfly Orchid
Platanthera chlorantha


Narrow-leaved helleborine
Cephalanthera longifolia


Encouraging wild orchids

I have to admit that it's not my garden. I dig it, I pull up the stumps, I stack the wood and I nurse the ride-on when it has eaten too many orchids. It's my wife who makes the springtime sallies to reclaim a bit of ground and then negotiate the annual truce with mother nature.

We don't battle against mother nature, we compromise with mother nature and mother nature rewards us with an abundance of wild flowers, including orchids.

We only have terrestrial orchids in the garden. They live in the ground almost like other plants. They are not parasites but they live by symbiosis with fungi that you never see. Most of them are small and you have to get down on hands and knees to see them properly.

It's much easier to click on the pictures on the right.

We have chalk downland orchids: Bee orchid - Orchis apifera, Early spider orchid - Ophrys sphegodes, and Monkey orchid - Orchis simia.

We also have orchids that more at home in light woodland or scrub: Lizard orchid - Himantoglossum hircinium in our garden, Lady orchid - Orchis purpurea, Greater butterfly orchid, and Narrow-leaved helleborine.

All these orchids are fairly common, in and around the Claise valley in South Touraine. Amongst these orchids, the bee orchid, Ophrys apifera, and the narrow-leaved helleborine, Cephalanthera longifolia are protected by law in this region.

From French cornfield to English garden

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The Alien Alien@FR37.net

The music is the Chopin Winter Wind Etude Op 25 No11 played by Robert Finley.