Thursday, June 14, 2007

Name that Wild Italian Orchid

One of my loves in this world are flowers, any and all kinds. I found myself after studying horticulture in my college days, (although my main interest was vegetable production and not floriculture) moving to the mountains of Colorado as the pull of the mountains was very strong for me, and still is. I found myself staying in the mountains because the promise of summertime high country wildflowers was just too alluring, although most people came to those mountains for the skiing. That love came to me later after sticking around for many years. I have not been able to resist mountains or wildflowers ever since. As I find myself living in slightly lower mountains than the Rockies these days, the vast array of wildflowers every spring and summer keeps me smiling and enjoying just poking around in my backyard. These purple ones are everywhere at the moment, and bring a smile to my face whenever I see them. We didn't really have wild orchids at almost 10,000 ft. Ladyslippers were as close as we got to orchids and they are very shy and elusive. Since coming to Europe I have enjoyed the vast array of wildflowers that the Alps meadows offer up, that is until the time comes for cutting those meadows for the cows. I remember one fine day when my group of walkers were oohing and aahing over a particularly abundant display of wildflowers on our way from Slovenian to a lovely Italian lake just over the border. When we returned later that day the whole field had been mowed and it was indeed a shock to the senses. Oh well, must be why the cows here are so contented and the farmers are able to make such wonderful cheeses in our region. Wonderful cheeses make for contented walkers at some other point. Contented cows munching on wild orchids and other yummy wildflowers. Nice image huh?

So although I love wildflowers I still don't know a lot of their names. I have also learned the hard way that whenever I casually call mother nature's gifts by name, someone usually comes along and names it much more specifically and accurately. Tramping around in the Slovenian and Austrian alps during my stint as a walking guide for a British tour company with lots of UK "Munro" baggers and other keen walkers and stalkers of nature for a few summers, I learned to wait until the group identified the discovered wild gentian or orchid before showing my ignorance. So I am hoping that someone will come along my blog here and give these beauties their proper name and if not, well then, we'll all just enjoy them as they are. This last photo is one I haven't found often. My neighbor brought it over for me to enjoy. These delicate tiny blossoms give off an intoxicating fragrance reminiscent of jasmine. An exquisite sweetness when you get up close and breathe deeply. I highly recommend it.
So if anyone cares to share their knowledge, name any of these orchids and we'll all be the wiser.
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