The early purple orchid is one of the first orchids to appear each Spring in an English ancient woodland. It has about fifty small flowers which are arranged in a cone shaped cluster on a tall spike. Like many orchids it has a rather unpleasant smell. The leaves are very distinctive with dark blotches which some people think look like dried blood. An old name for the plant was dead men’s fingers.
In England we are supposed to be practicing social distancing because of the corona virus. However unless you have a serious underlying health condition such as COPD or heart problems the government is still encouraging you to go out and take some exercise in the countryside. We are lucky in the South West of England to have a lot of beautiful scenery and a wealth of plants and animals to enjoy.
Folly farm Avon wildlife trust reserve
I spotted the purple orchid at Folly farm a 250 acre nature reserve run by Avon wildlife trust. It is one of our favourite places to visit at this time of year. You can climb through a bluebell wood to reach ancient wildflower meadows with views over Chew Valley reservoir and the Mendip hills. There is also a shorter trail that is accessible for wheel chair users and mums with pushchairs. It is free and there are toilets available. They also have an out door classroom which can be used by school groups. Dogs are not permitted and there may be sheep and cows on the site. It is usually quite quiet.
Folly farm was originally a ferme ornee (a play farm) for Sutton Court estate and some of the original water features have been restored. The farm house itself is used for weddings and conferences and the profits are given back to Avon Wildlife trust.
For more details and directions visit Avon wildlife trust website.
The wardens think that the fields may never have been ploughed and Avon wildlife trust try to manage the reserve without pesticide or fertilizer. This means that in summer there are lots of insects and butterflies to enjoy.
This post will be added to flower of the day (FOTD) photo challenge
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Where ever you are in the world stay safe and I hope we will all be able to get out and enjoy the countryside without worrying soon.