We have another wild flower lover on our campsite in the form of Kees (pronounced “case”), a regular visitor here from Holland. We’ve known Kees and family for several years as a result of our paths crossing, as they frequently do, at Fanjeaux. In the same way that Odonata fans swap dragonfly stories and share locations, Francine and Kees have been nattering about orchids and their locations. Fortunately, since our Dutch is none existent, Kees’s English is excellent and communication is usually no problem.
A few days ago, Kees returned from a day out and, via the rear screen of his camera, began showing us photos of orchids he had found. One in particular was not in Francine’s collection and was naturally of great interest to her. Armed with a Michelin map, Kees tried to show us roughly where he had been hunting but his description, despite his excellent English, was less than precise.
A day or so later, we set off in search of his treasure trove to try to add to Francine’s orchid catalogue. We found a small cross roads with likely looking rough meadows on either side of the main track, found somewhere to park and bailed out. Francine began scanning one field while I looked in another. I found Lizard Orchids and Pyramidal Orchids but nothing new. Francine joined me and added a Bee Orchid which I’d missed but again, nothing new. Kees had mentioned “seeing them beside the road” but there was nothing matching that description here. We weren’t convinced we were looking in the right place and returned to try and explain to Kees what a Wild Goose Chase was.
After a second cross-examination in the Kees of the missing orchid, it transpired that we had been in the right location for the flower meadow but that the main target of Francine’s quest was in a different location, some way earlier along the road and beside it on the verges.
Today looking suitable, we set off once again to try and find the missing orchid. After once again reaching the meadows without spotting our quarry, we spun around and tried looking from the opposite direction. We stopped more or less on spec. and Francine went off scouring the verges à pied [on foot]. Sure enough there were Helleborine orchids scattered all along the verge on the shady side of the road. Francine thinks these may be examples of the Broad-leaved Helleborine (Epipactis helleborine) and very attractive they are, too. [Yours truly finds them easier to remember as Haliborange Orchids.]
Francine’s third addition to her catalogue – the Kees of the missing orchid solved.