Orchid Walks

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There are 52 different species of wild orchid in Britain. Many of these species are rare and can often only be found on nature reserves/SSI that have special protection for the orchids. Some are showy flowers, and others are so tiny and you have to really look hard to spot them.  An orchid walk, is a time I can appreciate the beauty of creation and the world around me - The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come - Song of Solomon 2:12, And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you - Luke 12:28.

The orchid season is from around April or May, locally we have early purple orchids which you may find flowering alongside the bluebells in Hook, to the end of August or early September with the white spirals of Autumn Ladies Tresses which you may find in the Winchester Cathedral grounds in The Close.  

There are lots of fun facts about orchids - for example they are can be difficult to grow from seed, they need the fungi in the soil to germinate, and then can take upto 10 or 11 years to flower.  Some may lay dormant in the soil for years and need just the right conditions to flower.

With bee orchids the flower mimics a female bee, which attract male bees to polinate the flowers. Winchester began as a Roman town. It was built around 70 CE and was called  Venta Belgarum. The orchid on the right is a bee orchid with the Latin name Ophrys apifera var  belgarum, which was first seen and identified in the Winchester area and was named after where it was found.  

Places to look for orchids (this list is not exhaustive, but aims to include a number of local sites, where you should see some orchids if you visit at the right time of year - once you know what to look for, you'll start to see them more often):

  • Basset's Mead in Hook - best time to visit for orchids is April, if you find the bluebell wood, and look carefully, you should be able to find early purple orchids (in the winter and early spring, you can find the plants by looking for the leaves which are flat green leaves with dark purply black markings). 
  • West Green - a short walk, from Hook or Mattingley, where there are orchids growing round the lake
  • North Warnborough Greens - a good time to visit is May or June for marsh orchids (wear wellies)
  • Greywell moors -  a good time to visit is June
  • Noar Hill - this is a lovely site to visit, its about a mile from the car park in Selborne, and so many different flowers and you can see early purple orchids at the start of summer and the Autumn Ladies tresses at the end of summer here (in all probably a dozen or so different kinds of orchid are found here along with a variety of butterflies)
  • Ladle Hill - this an iron age fort, on the Wayfarers walk near Kingsclere.  There are variety of orchids found here - the best time is early July to look for the rare burnt tip orchids. 
  • St Catherine's Hill - this is in Winchester a short walk from the St Catherine's Park & Ride or around a mile from the city centre, with lovely view of Winchester, there are lots of pink pyramidal orchids, you may even see some orchids on the verges near by.

The image below shows a number of the different orchids which have been seen locally in 2020 - some you could see walking around Hook, others were upto a 30 minute drive.  If anyone is interested in an orchid walk in 2021, please get in touch & if enough interest we can arrange one (contact Anna via the Benefice Office).