Shetland’s Bog Orchids

150807 Bob Orchid clump blogsizeIt’s been a while since I last blogged; it’s not been for want of trying, but the few weeks of summer we get have to be taken advantage of for those of us who haven’t fled the islands for some sunnier climes. I’ve been keeping busy doing chores about the house and croft, trying to make good some of the damage the passage of time in Shetland wreaks on the place; while keeping a watchful eye on the nearby flowers, not least the scarcer ones I stumbled across last year.

Everything’s flowering later than usual this year; but whatever the weather throws at us in any given summer, Bog Orchids Hammarbya paludosa give the Heath Fragrant Orchids Gymnadenia borealis on Unst a run for their money as the last of Shetland’s orchids to come into bloom. Unlike the Heath Fragrants, the Bogs have a long flowering period and can be reliably seen for a while once they’ve got going.

150807 Bog Orchid with heather FBblog cropI headed out this evening to Shetland’s best site for them on my way home, and wasn’t disappointed – indeed, there were more to be found than I anticipated once I’d got my eye in. They’re incredibly small and delicate, the entire plant a pallid, almost pellucid jade green. The ones I saw last year were a little contorted and twisted, having grown through some particularly wiry grass. This year’s examples were much better lookers; they were growing straight, for one thing!

A most unexpected find were a couple of nearby Grass-of-Parnassus Parnassia palustris, a fabulous flower that looks like it’s been cast in fine bone china. More on those shortly…

Meanwhile it was great to get another chance to take some better photos of the Bog Orchids than I’d managed previously. They’re so low-growing it’s a challenge to get a decent perspective on them, let alone a pleasing background. I was happy to find one growing up amongst a small patch of flowering heather, the purple making for a good contrast with the pale washed out green of the orchid. More orchid news in due course, with any luck…

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5 Responses to Shetland’s Bog Orchids

  1. Steve Gale says:

    I’ve only ever seen Bog Orchid in the New Forest Jon. One of those species where getting a decent photo also means getting your knees wet!

  2. Jean Harwood says:

    I look forward to reading more about your Grass of Parnassus and maybe a photo if I’m lucky?

  3. What a surprise. Bog orchids. Thank you.

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