Mid-sprinter flush of flowers in Victoria's orchidfields

I just returned from a few days almost west of the border, the South Australian border. I was talking to 100 or so people in Edenhope about freshwater red algae, at the 16th Wimmera Biodiversity Seminar.

Most of the other talks were of a more practical nature - biolinks, regenerating towns and saving the Malleefowl - but it was a diverse and fascinating day. We also visited a nearby group of three reserves called Minimay, where BankMecu was using carbon offsets from its car loans to restore Buloke Woodland. On the way back I looked in at the orchid growing facilities of Noushka Reiter in Horsham (Noushka and her team can grow almost any native Australian orchid from seed and fungus).

It was also my first venture out into the western Victorian bush since returning to Melbourne earlier this year. The Grampians and surrounds was one Lynda and my favourite holiday destinations. We stayed in various towns but always spent time botanising around the northern Grampians area.

Once we discovered the orchidfields of Stawell these became a regular pilgrimage. I already knew that anything with the tag goldfields was really an orchidfield. The Muckleford forest and other patches of scratchy box woodland around Castlemaine were great places to search for orchids.

I don't have much to add to the immense knowledge in the heads of orchid enthusiasts all over Victoria but I thought I'd just celebrate the mid-sprinter flush near Stawell. The first 'spring' flush of orchids can be found in August and September (in sprinter). There will be a gradual turn over and change over the next few months but the next peak is late October to early November, mid-sprummer.

I'm not going to even name them. Partly because I'm too scared - I just know I'll get a few of them wrong. An partly because, well you can just enjoy their beauty rather than their nomenclature. And yes it was raining!

And then there is always the leaf, or bud, that hints of what is coming next. This expectant donkey orchid looks more like an oddly marked flamingo head at the moment.


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