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Orchid Fortnight looms and blooms at West Wales nature reserve and glamping site

A NATURE reserve and glamping site near Tregaron in West Wales is holding its first Orchid Fortnight shortly. Up to 1500 flowering heads of heath spotted orchid are expected to be in flower at Orchid Meadows near Tregaron, along with smaller numbers of lesser butterfly orchid. Broad-leaved helleborines will be approaching flowering. The fortnight, from Saturday 29 June to Sunday 14 July 2024, will feature an orchid count carried out by members of the Lampeter Permaculture Group. The results will be compared with those at the same time last year.

The spectacle will be a treat for those staying on the glamping site. Accommodation is available in a cottage, yurt and glampavan. Bookings can be made at the Orchid Meadows website.

Orchid Meadows is a 25-acre small-holding close to Cors Caron National Nature Reserve and in many ways mirrors that environment. There are flower-rich hay meadows, an area of wetland with rare bog plants, a pond teeming with damsel flies and a newly planted wood of native broad-leaved trees. The site is managed in line with direct advice and input from the South and West Wales Wildlife Trust.

Site owner Stephen Hounsham said: “Whilst our orchids are not listed as scarce, no orchids can be described as common anymore due to modern methods of land management. We will do our best over the next few years to maximise the populations of these and other wild flowers on our land.

“The orchid count will help us determine whether we are being successful. Increasing wild flower populations will have a knock-on effect on numbers of insects and farmland birds. We are a glamping site offering stays amidst nature and this is what our guests want to see.”

The meadows are managed traditionally with no artificial fertilisers or pesticides. They are cut for hay in late August after most wild plants have flowered and set seed. The hay is used at a nearby horse training centre for feed and bedding. Orchid seed is collected from the fields before cutting and scattered and trodden in the following spring.