Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Orchids on the farm 2011

The woodcock ophry, this orchid was growing only five meters from the hotel.

Orchids can provoke a sense of the exotic in some people and for many botanists they are the prize specimen. Seeing a new orchid species for the first time is always something special and with a staggering 49 species of orchids recorded in the Picos de Europe, there’s plenty to see.

The man orchid, the rarest orchid we have growing on the farm.

The dull orchid

The butterfly orchid.

On our farm we are very lucky having recorded eleven species of orchid, the latest find being a butterfly orchid growing inconspicuously on a stone wall. Our traditional system of pasture maintenance helps ensure that the orchids (as well as many other types of flora) flourish. We cut the meadows for hay in late June and then graze them with the sheep in November. From December to late June the meadows are left undisturbed so there is no damage to the newly growing orchids shoots. On our meadows the combination of small rocky outcrops, shallow soil and south facing slopes also helps to contribute to the diversity of orchids.

The wild flower meadow next to the hotel full of serapias

There are 3 types of serapia orchids found on the farm. The tongue serapia is the most common, the heart serapia is less common, and the small flowered serapia the hardest to spot and flowers a little later.

The heart serapia

The small flowered serapia

The tongue serapia

One of our biggest problem in maintaining a good orchid population on the farm is the presence of wild boar which frequently roam the farm. They love eating the roots of the orchids and spend a lot of time hunting around the farm looking for orchids only to dig them up and munch their roots, much to our dismay!

Ground dug by a wild boar so as to eat an orchid root.

The heath spotted orchid found in the wetter parts of the farm.

The provence orchid

The earliest orchid to come in flower on the farm is the early purple which normally starts flowering late March followed by the dull orchid. The last to flower is the autumn ladies tresses which fills our CastaƱarina meadow in late August and September.

The early purple the first orchid to flower

The autumn ladies tresses orchid which flowers late August to September

Happy orchid hunting!

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Hotel Posada del Valle is a small hotel in Asturias Northern Spain surrounded by its own organic farm and where we are passionate about organic farming, food, and sustainable livelihoods. In this Blog those of us who live and work at Hotel Posada del Valle open a door to share with all of you who are interested in what we are doing.