Normally you would not expect to find orchids growing and thriving in the heart of the city. The scene below does not very suggest that there is the right habitat for orchids, yet growing on the hill side are about ten to twenty different orchid species. These orchids have been planted here.
This is a small site in Vale Park, next to the Torrens River and just off Ascot Avenue. It is a public site, with many cyclists and pedestrians passing it on a daily basis. To cater for the public there are small paths that wander through the planting.
All the orchids are marked out with small signs which give tell the name of the plant and show the leaf and flower. This made it very easy to find the orchids. Surprisingly, not many of the orchids have been dug up. This is because it is a public place, and the community wants to protect it.
When I visited the site yesterday, there were a few species in flower, and many in leaf or with buds. There were a lot of Caladenia latifolia (white form – also known as pink fairies) in flower. I only saw one plant which had the normal pink flowers, all the rest were white.
Another species that I saw was Pterostylis curta. There were quite a lot of these orchids in flower as well.
Other species seen, included Diuris orientis, Diuris behrii and Diuris pardina, Glossodia major, Leptoceras menziesii which was in bud, Thelymitra pauciflora and Thelymitra antennifera, and Diplodium robustum.
What is unique about this site is that they have focused on restoring the under-story, which includes successfully establishing some native orchids which have been increasing in numbers. Often it is very difficult to reintroduce orchids. However in this project, there was an existing woodland before planting. One orchid was successfully pollinated within a week of planting, indicating that the correct pollinating wasp was present.
This project did have a few difficulties to overcome when it started, such workers inadvertently spraying the orchids, but now the weeding is left to the Vale Park Our Patch group. There is another site at Gilbert Street, in North Adelaide, and I will leave that one for next week.
If you are interested in seeing this site, there will be an open day on the 14th September from 10am to 3pm. It is on Ascot Avenue on the Vale Park side of the Torrens River. It will be interesting seeing how this site develops over time.