Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Early Summer Orchids

With midsummer's day rapidly approaching, the weather continues to be unseasonably cool and damp, though it tends to be better than the forecasters predict.  Today we were promised a wet morning, but the sun came out and the Islander, which takes visitors out to Staffa and Lunga, set off as usual from Tobermory and picked up passengers from Kilchoan pier. Staffa Tours' trip is well worth doing, even on a bouncy day - their website is here.

Many plants are late this year.  There are advantages: the bracken has been unusually slow to appear, giving other plants a chance to flower before they are shaded out.  The orchid flowering seems to be running about a fortnight late, and the blooms of those in the hills, like this white heath spotted, are smaller than usual and often burnt by the wind.

This is a typical heath spotted growing in the richer and less exposed croft lands, where the species can produce magnificent towers of flowers.  It's growing in a protected, sunny spot close to the sea.

Each year there's good show of northern marsh orchids in the damp grass between the Ferry Stores and the slipway.  This was the first to appear, ten days ago, but there are a dozen now.

Northern marsh orchids like growing in short grass, so they thrive along the verges in Kilchoan where council contractor Hughie does a monthly strim.  His timing this year has been impeccable, cutting the grass just before the orchids appeared, but he has to be careful when he's next working his way along the roadside.

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