Tuesday, 20 May 2008

A Profusion of Monkeys

Just an ordinary English field in early summer, with blue sky and white clouds above. But all is not what it seems. This is a special field, and at this time of the year it's very special indeed.
The Monkey Orchids are at their best at the moment, and an excursion to a very English valley is rewarded by the sight of tens, if not hundreds of these rare plants amid the carefully managed grassland.
This rare orchid now only grows (in Britain) in Oxfordshire and Kent, and this may be the site where hand-pollination has led to an increase from the original six plants to over 200 in ten years.

The derivation of the Monkey Orchid's name is self-evident, and it differs from the similar Military Orchid most noticeably by the curly 'limbs', which in the Military are broader and flatter. The Military Orchid has been found in Kingsdown in the past, but not (so far as I know) recently.
Nearby, a blotchy set of leaves announced the imminent arrival of Common Spotted Orchid flowers,
...while dotted here and there were the plainer Twayblades.

There is an Open Day here this weekend - it's worth a trip.


Sandpiper said...

What a beautiful place! I love all the different plants. The monkey orchids are gorgeous.

Mary said...

Wow! Those orchids are beautiful and I can see the little monkeys and why they got the name! I'm glad they are being encouraged and protected! The whole valley was beautiful and peaceful looking even without the orchids.

Simon said...

Some beautiful photos Steve.

Kingsdowner said...

Thanks for the comments.
We're fortunate that - as the birds tuck themselves away to nest - flowers bloom and butterflies take to the wing, especially on the chalk where we are.
Some people get into moths at this time of the year, but I haven't gone down that road (yet).

Tony Morris said...

I'll help you build a trap if you want!