The wild orchids with which La Chaise is plentifully endowed are tougher than their scarcity elswhere would lead the innocent to believe. The very earliest ones, the lazy purples that look like red clover from a distance, are trodden on and sat on by the sheep. I expect the lambs even taste a few. I know that Alexandre mows those few that venture onto the fairways. But every year they come back, especially under the clump of ash trees in the first field.
These are the ones to the right of the ash trees - so not sat on by sheep.
For some years, before sheep, we could always rely on orchids to come back in the same places. The burnt tip, the pyramid, the scented, the hanging man were always under or around the rough pasture, known as 'Greece' to us, which was heavily populated by aged juniper bushes.
The insect imitating orchids were usually in the rough grass, just above mowing level - the fly orchid, the spider and bee orchids were relatively plentiful. They seem to have since left us in favour of the other side of the sheep fencing, into the inpenetrable wild woods. On the other hand some colonise the edges of small rural roads, carefully on the far side of the ditch so that the cantonniers with their heavy machinery do not fauche them. Our local, recently retired, cantonnier, used to carefully mow round the ones that had not retreated.
In the past couple of years the junipers in 'Greece' have died off - but new ones are coming in strange places. One lot has decided that fate has destined it to be a hedge and so is lined up along the sheep fencing dividing the horse fields from number four fairway. Not so much a sign of plant intelligence as the logical explanation that they get neither eaten nor mown at the foot of a fence. So far, no orchids
The first year of the juniper move the 'serapia' type orchids moved from the upper slopes of the horse fields to the safe side of number three fairway, sheltering in amongst the pine trees.
|Hardly visible ...|
We fenced them round but the sheep trod down the fencing. This year one has decided to become totally sheep proof - here it is, inside a new juniper bush!
Won't someone send a botanist, soon, please. La Chaise has just got to be interesting to people interested in plants.