At least once a year, every year since I can remember, I head up north
to Scotland to see my family and connect to my roots. My mum is a Mackenzie and my family gather every year in a little place called Findhorn for our annual clan gathering. It’s a jolly old doo involving traditional Mackenzie storytelling passed through the generations,songs that have never been written down (probably a good thing),copious amounts of whisky, terribly played bagpipes and usually some Munroe exploration of some sorts. Many moons ago, a younger version of myself journeyed out to explore the Scottish highlands under the trusted supervision of an older member of the Clan. As I walked along the hillside, grass seeds running through my fingers, and the hot sun beaming down on my face, I came across my first ever wild orchid. In fact I had to stop abruptly so as to not step on it. It was an early purple orchid. A striking flower of vivid purple colouring and it was packed full of characterful expression as it danced in the breeze. I was entranced.

My family call the flower ‘Gradh is Fuadh’, which means ‘love and hate’. They say eating the larger root of the plant would make someone fall in love with you but eating the smaller root would make them hate you. I love a good old Scottish yarn, but I’d highly recommend you do not consume any part of the plant! Here was where my love of wild orchids started and I’ve been hunting them ever since. So you can imagine the absolute joy I felt in the first year of starting this job as Project Officer, when I strolled through the garden during a sunny June lunch break and turned a corner to find
colonies and natural drift after natural drift of wild orchids living in the South Cliff Gardens. A sea of pink if you like. June is a really good time of the year to see them and if you have not had the incredible opportunity to experience this absolute treasure before. go out now, right now and

The bank just above the Clock Café, behind the octagonal shelter below the putting green and on the Holbeck landslip are good places to see the orchids. I’ve seen Pyramidal, common pink and even the odd delicate bee orchid, which are slightly harder to find. Please share photos of your orchid exploration adventures with us. Although orchids have been around
for 120 million years and were one of the first ever flowering plants
to evolve, please help us protect them and be careful not to damage
the orchids as they are critical to the local biodiversity. If you cannot
find them, please get in touch; I’d love any excuse to meet up for an
orchid hunt!

Welcome to the beautiful world of wild orchids.

Victoria Thompson
Project Officer


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