365 days of orchids – day 523 – Dactylorhiza fuchsii

Dactylorhiza fuchsii is our native common spotted orchid and surely one of the most wonderfully variable orchid species you could come across. We have two of our seed raised clones in flower at the moment (above) which show the fantastic diversity in the species.

We grow plants in large pots of soil based compost in our temperate section and the seed is from the Mendips where the species is common in old quarries such as Asham Quarry where it prefers the poor soils in the old quarry workings and scraped areas where we saw it flowering today. (see below)

It is also common in remaining low nutrient unimproved limestone Mendip meadows and the nearby chalk downs of Wiltshire. It is even growing in the school car park where it grows in subsoil between the rows of cars.

Thanks to Agnes for finding a large population of bee orchids (Ophrys apifera) in Asham quarry too (photo below). The first flowers are just opening and the species will be at its best in a couple of weeks. Orchid project students will be heading out to find local native orchids over the next few weeks,

This bee orchid is flowering amongst the birch forest that has grown up in an area scraped clear of top soil ready for quarrying but never used.



365 days of orchids – day 522 – Bulbophyllum thaiorum

We are fortunate to have a number of interesting little bulbophyllums in flower this week and the star amongst them is this species from South East Asia with masses of deep red flowers on a miniature plant.

The species is reported from 600-2000m but with us it definitely prefers to grow on the cooler side compared to many of our bulbophyllums from the same region. We find it grows and flowers best mounted in Cool Americas (perhaps it enjoys having a holiday) rather than out Warm Asia section.

With three flowers out it is a splendid thing but unfortunately it is likely to be over before the Three Counties Show (at the Malvern Show Ground next Friday -Sunday).

p.s. thanks to Ching Hong Tan for helping us to name it correctly after we posted it in flower last year.


365 days of orchids – day 521 – Gymnadenia conopsea

The first of our native species to flower in the temperate section of our greenhouse is the fragrant orchid – Gymnadenia conopsea. This species is present in nearby Wiltshire and Clay Hill is a great spot to enjoy the opportunity to lie down and admire its scent.

Our seed raised native species grow in large pots in a mix of soil based and peat free compost with added limestone grit.

Gymnadenia conopsea is usually found in a range of pinks and purples but we are fortunate that this plant is a pure white alba clone. We will be collecting seed later in the summer to raise the next generation of native species.


365 days of orchids – day 520 – Dendrobium victoria-regina

This wonderful blue flowered Dendrobium species is a cool growing epiphyte, native to the Philippines where it grows on moss covered trees in consistent moisture all year round and good air movement.  It is a free flowering species, but the peak of its flowering seems to be in June when it produces the first flush. The flowers are held normally in clusters of 3-4 but we have known our plants to produce up to 7 on its very short spikes. The flowers of this species are famous for being blue but the quality of the blue does vary. We have two different plants of very different flower colour. The smaller of our plants produces flowers of quite a dark blue. The larger of our two plants is the most vigorous and floriferous clone we have seen with the plant smothered in flowers this week.

The plant grows in the side of a moss covered basket where it is kept wet all year and hangs in Cool Asia (min 10C). This potting method was developed by Jacob and certainly seems the way to grow this orchid to perfection.