The weather continues to be 'off-again, on-again' and can't seem to settle. The upside of this, far more watery, summer is the fact that everything is lovely, lush and green.
|lizard orchid in full flower|
We knew we had lizard orchids [Himantoglossum hircinum] dotted round and about; mostly ours grow under trees. This is slightly at odds with the information we found about the species which says: "This orchid grows in dry meadows, rocky areas, and open woods". Ours are most definitely found in well shaded places, like under our lime tree! In general they are considered to be a bit rare. However, here in the Touraine they are quite common and, being large, are easy to spot for non-experts like us.
|largest lizard orchid in deep shade under our lime tree|
Last year, because of the very dry conditions, only one flowered. This year we've found eight in flower and they are lovely. They are a delicate greeny-white with pale pinky labellums. Supposedly, they can smell quite unpleasantly of goat; but to be honest we can't say that ours do. Certainly we've not noticed any pungent smell. We also found a number of rosettes which haven't flowered, but they may well reward us next year [they are still quite small].
|detail: pale pink ribbon-like labellum|
Another consequence of all this rain is that the grass grows at an exponential rate! In order to combat this we have hired a contract mower to help us keep on top of things – Katinka :-). She's quite pleased with the arrangement as she gets paid in extra cat food!
|can I have my extra cat food now?|
Recently friends Tim & Pauline posted about one of their cats, which they caught eating ants and they had photos to prove it. That's certainly not a cat behaviour we had ever heard of! Although not so exotic, we noticed something a bit odd ourselves recently. Now, there's nothing odd in seeing a cat stalk and catch a butterfly. However, we did find it a bit odd when Shadow, having chased and caught a flutterby [no idea what kind, sorry] promptly ate it. He seemed to enjoy his elevenses. Sadly, it was all over very quickly and with no camera around we could not bring you photos. We'll keep an eye out and see if he repeats this behaviour when the camera is to hand.
If you wish to know more about orchids -or other flora and fauna- in the Loire Valley region then do have a look at the website Loire Valley Nature run by Simon & Susan of Days on the Claise.
If you click on the photos they will enlarge.