I popped up to the reserve in the afternoon today to look for new orchids and to see if I could help out any visitors. I found 1 more new Monkey orchid near the top of the slope – bringing their total to 448 plants, of which 136 have been spotted flowering or trying to flower. The number of flowering plants is likely to be much lower than the real number because it is very hard to count them all.
The most surprising thing was to find that all of the Lady orchids had gone over and even a few of the hybrids had gone to seed. Most hybrids are doing fine but I think the rest will start to go over in the next week – especially if there isn’t significant rain soon. Most of the Monkey orchids are flowering OK but a significant proportion of them have wilted and died – either due to being eaten by small animals or having aborted due to drought.
It seems quite clear to me that we just haven’t had enough rain during April & May and the small showers kept the orchids alive for a while but in the absence of some serious downpours the plants are starting to fail as the tubers decide to abort flowering to save the plant itself.
The drought has also contributed to the large worn patch of ground around the hybrids (see below).