We reluctantly left Denge Wood and drove a few miles to Yockletts Bank. We turned up a lane that was, to me, the most perfect representation of a British woodland in spring. Bear’s garlic, Allium ursinum, carpeted the forest floor. Also known as ramsons, this was the plant we’d enjoyed with nettles a few weeks earlier in a spring tonic soup.
We headed into the woodland and met a nice stand of lady orchids, Orchis purpurea, in a clearing. But what we were after was much more subtle and hard to spot: the fly orchid, Ophrys insectifera.
And find it we did. There’s an orchid in the photo below. Can you spot it? This photo gives you an idea of just how small and challenging these particular orchids can be to see.
Elated with our discovery we continued on through the woods to find these intriguing trees. I dubbed them ‘resurrection ashes’ because new trees had grown vertically from where an old tree had fallen. If there ever is an actual incarnation of immortality, these trees may be it.
Further down the path we noticed a few tell-tale twigs just to the side of the path. We had both read Leif Bersweden’s recent book, The Orchid Hunter, and remembered that people will often use twigs to subtly mark/protect orchids. These twigs were guarding another small population of fly orchids.
We headed out of the wood and back to the car, enjoying the wonderful natural plant combinations growing on the verge. This mix of Allium ursinum; cow parsley, Anthriscus sylvestris, the fern, Asplenium scolopendirum; and the delicate grass, Melica uniflora, was a study in perfect plant combinations. I went to the Chelsea Flower Show a few days later and saw few plant combinations to rival what nature created right here on Yockletts Bank.
Up next, our final stop on our day of orchid hunting, and an excellent stop it was.