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In the past, when I heard the word orchid, I would think of the exotic tropical species to be found in places like Singapore and other Asian countries. Now I know there is an entirely different kind of orchid that is a British native and, while not as spectacular in appearance as some of the exotics, these natives are, I think, even more beautiful.

160715 orchids (1)

The flower spikes stand tall, like sentinels, amongst the more flippant flora of the meadows and chalk grasslands, though the individual flowers are delicate little poppets, with a surprising range of patterns and hues. This is partly because they hybridise easily which can make them difficult to identify. I think I have here examples of the Common twayblade, Early purple, Southern marsh and Common spotted orchids.