Orchids at Clattinger Farm

Burnt orchid

It’s a big claim to be the UK’s finest lowland meadow and it doesn’t disappoint. It’s huge for a start, 126 Ha in total including the ponds and a large part of that area is a series of very good meadows each one slightly different from it’s neighbour.

The star of the show is the Burnt orchid (Neotinea ustulata). Burgundy buds unfold to show a white lip shaped like a clown suit with burgundy polka dots, it’s stunning. Some populations are found on dry chalk downland, but these are in a wet meadow alongside Great burnet and Saw-wort. It has a reputation for growing only on the longest established grasslands.

Burnt orchid

There are other plant superstars at Clattinger. The spring offers fields of Snakeshead fritillary and Green winged orchids. We saw the Green winged, now in bud.

On my visit, on a very hot day in June, there was an abundance of Common spotted orchids and Southern marsh, including an unusual colour variant. The Early marsh had nearly finished and only a few faded flowers were left. There was Pyramidal and Heath spotted. Above the grasses bobbed the heads of Great burnet and there was Salad burnet and the clotted cream yellow of Pepper saxifrage. Hundreds of thousands of bright turquoise damsel flies were using the hedgerows as a corridor to the pools. In a mad dash to mate, many of them were locked together in pairs as they flew towards the water. Well worth a visit at any time of year.

Common spotted orchid
Pyramidal orchid
Heath spotted orchid
Early marsh orchid at the end of flowering