Early Purples (Orchis mascula) in the Mendips

We are very lucky in our part of the world to have some amazing ancient woodland. My favourite is Asham Woods, the largest remnant of the Mendip Great Wood and an SSSI with native daffodil, bluebell and of course, orchids. The Early Purples are at their best and surrounded by bluebells. The impressive work done last year to coppice areas is clearly being appreciated by the orchids and the flowers stems are particularly tall in an area that has previously been heavily shaded with old coppice (below).

The plants growing through sticks left from coppicing also seem to have been protected from deer by the sticks.



365 days of orchids – day 126 – Ionopsis utricularoides

This small growing species has a wide distribution through Central and South America as well as the Caribbean Islands. Is found from sea level up to about 1000m and we have seen it on school expeditions to Costa Rica. It flowers very quickly from seed and is a coloniser of fruit trees and coffee bushes.

The plant is 5cm high and the flowers are borne on a 30cm flower spike.


Dendrobium densiflorum wins orchid of the month for April


Dendrobium densiflorum has won the popular vote for April’s orchid of the month. It was a close run thing with Dendrobium nobile close behind.

It will join our other winners of orchid of the month in the Orchid of the year vote in December. For those who have forgotten the monthly winners so far are:

January – Cymbidium hookerianum 

February – Bulbophyllum rothschildianum 

and March – Ansellia africana 

Interestingly we have two winning species native to the Himalayas and two from tropical Africa – will an orchid from the Americas win in May?


365 days of orchids – day 125 – Coelogyne pulverula

This dramatic Coelogyne usually flowers for us in August but has thrown an early spike this year. As you can see from Joe’s effort to wear the plant as a hat the flower spikes are very long and pendulous making this not the easiest plant to transport of display but the flowers make it worth the effort.

The species is native to Malaysia, Thailand and Borneo where it grown on the trunks and lower branches of large trees in evergreen forest from 300 to 1800m. We find that the species enjoys growing warm but well shaded and kept moist throughout the year.  We find that leaves can become damaged by bright sun or by plants being allowed to become dry for long periods.

The flowers do bruise quite easily and so it is worth moving a plant in spike to a safe place for the flower spikes to grow where they wont touch things or be knocked.