I spent a morning in May at a local meadow, photographing these beautiful native orchids. I often think our native botanical riches are a bit overlooked, but we do have a fascinating selection of species here, and I will definately be trying to explore more in the future.
The Green-winged orchid is one of around 45 orchid species to be found in the UK, it grows in unimproved grassland and flowers between May and June. The attractive spikes of flowers are highly variable in colour, ranging from deep magenta, to delicate pale pink, right through to white. The sides of the individual flowers are veined with a green hue, giving the plant it’s common name.
En-masse the flowering orchids carpet the meadow in rich purple swathes early in the season. Later on, they mingle with with the buttercups, the shining yellow providing a colourful contrast.
My favourites were the paler coloured ones, delicate against their gawdier siblings, a gorgeous shade of rose nestled in the meadow grass.
It was a rather cool and overcast morning, but in the shelter of the little meadow a few Swallows whizzed overhead and a Chiff Chaff chirped from the hedgerow. I couldn’t help imagining a time when there were meadows like this one all around, instead of this single oasis marooned in our modern monoculture. Perhaps the whole area was covered in these flowers and more besides. I wish I could have seen it. Before I spiral into grief at lanscapes lost, I focus my attention back on the pink beauty in front of me. Sat here at orchid eye level I know there is hope, conservation bodies and individuals doing all they can to save and grow places like this.
A few links you may find interesting:
I’m a long time supporter of Plantlife, a fantastic organisation aiming to protect and restore plants and fungi. https://www.plantlife.org.uk/
Suffolk Wildlife Trust who manage this particular meadow – Winks Meadow in Suffolk. https://www.suffolkwildlifetrust.org/winks-meadow