Not this year. I keep aiming to catch the local pink lady’s slippers (Cypripedium acaule) in peak bloom but it has yet to happen. Last year I was too late and saw nothing but seed pods, and this year I was just a little too early. But it was a nice Sunday morning out regardless, and I did catch a few in perfect condition.
The Lady’s slipper patch is found in a state park about 25 minutes from my house, and if I’m being honest it’s not always my favorite spot to visit. It’s got a kind of creepy vibe going, and I don’t think it would be first on the list of places to take the kids hiking. I’m sure it’s all in my head though, but until I get a little way into the woods I’m just a bit on edge.
Pink lady’s slippers do not like the bacteria rich, worm infested, fertile soils of the typical garden plot and are notoriously difficult to cultivate on purpose, and instead are usually found in the undisturbed duff of native soils, high in acidity, high in fungus, and the places where decay takes years rather than a few day’s run through an earthworm’s belly.
***education alert -this post is loosely based on fact, I make most of this up as I go. I am absolutely not a botanist or any thing close to a soil scientist***
Oddly enough the park areas where these orchids seem to grow best are not pristine slices of pre-colonial North America, but rather ridges of mine tailings left undisturbed and unreclaimed for the past hundred years. You could almost call it mine-scarred if not for the regenerated trees and return of native wildflowers, and I’m sure timing has everything to do with this. Try this again today and I’m sure the only thing to sprout back would be a forest of Japanese knotweed mixed with crownvetch and barberry in the drier spots.
I often think about weird things. Many people love to repeat how incredibly well adapted natives are to one area or another, and I usually just nod but deep down inside don’t really buy it. I think it has more to do with first come, first served. An area is disturbed, a seed gets lucky, and if the plant gets lucky it fills the area before anyone else shows up. If nothing else big happens that’s that, regardless of how perfect or not it is for the spot.
In any case I enjoyed the visit, and didn’t mind being early rather than having perfect timing. Perfect timing would mean I’d have made my visit this upcoming weekend, and with the hot weather that’s rolled in I have no desire to take on any physical adventures… not until I get used to the change in weather at least.
Hope your week’s gone well. Between track meets, gymnastics, and baseball practices, this week has flown by and there have been days when I didn’t even get my garden strolls in (*gasp*), but the schedule is changing and hopefully I can soon enjoy some of the big changes in the garden. The heat has wilted the last tulips and dogwoods, and now the bearded iris and clematis are bursting open. I need more of both of course, but have to plant a few other things before I’m allowed to buy anything new… unless it’s a rose… I’m giving myself two (or three)rose permission slips, and it’s all part of a new adventure planned for the upcoming weekend 🙂