I was a small child, always the youngest and smallest in class in my school days, and one teacher constantly sought to console and encourage me by telling me that the best goods came in small parcels. There may be a nugget of truth in the saying and we certainly delight especially in beauty in small things.
Orchids are generally fascinating with interesting structure and colourings but, to quote from Anne and Simon Harrap’s “Orchids of Britain and Ireland”, “This tiny green orchid is the exact opposite of the classic big, bright and blousy hothouse hybrids. Indeed, it is the smallest orchid in the British Isles and one of the hardest to find. But, despite its rather dull flowers and diminutive stature (or perhaps because of these), it holds a particular fascination for botanists and is always a delight to see.”
Last week, circumstances gave me the opportunity to visit one of the very few known sites for the Bog Orchid in Ireland. It was in the Dublin Mountains, a two-hour drive from home, and though I had coordinates to get me to the location and clear directions of where to find them once on site, I was still without any great confidence of finding them bearing in mind the comments from the Harraps: “This tiny green plant is one of the hardest British orchids to find. It is so inconspicuous that it is easy to tread on it unawares, and the pseudobulbs, often only half-buried in the moss, can easily be dislodged. All in all, it is best not to look for it until you are an experienced orchid hunter.” Hardly encouraging!
However, fortune smiled on me – the directions were precise and accurate – and I came on the first specimen within minutes and there is a well-known phenomenon which orchid searchers know well that once you find the first, your eye becomes attuned and you find others with greater ease afterwards. These bog orchids are no taller nor wider than a blade of grass but they have a light yellowish-green colour which catches the eye so one gradually sees more and more of them – with patient looking, for one noticed within a square foot may lead to several others being noticed with patient examination of the spot.
I returned to this location today with two friends for it’s always more enjoyable to view these beauties in good company.