Lady’s Slipper Orchids – Surprise In the Ditch

I’ve lost track of how many times I have walked the road that leads from our property to the main road. Hundreds, I suppose. Round trip is about a mile and a half. In nice weather, it is a good place to walk. In poor weather… well, there are more comfortable places to walk, like the treadmill in my basement…

The road is bordered by a deep ditch which is a repository for all sorts of things. When I walk the road I scan the ditch, looking for items of interest. A few months back I found the little folder of registration and insurance papers that were stolen from our Jeep. Maybe someday I will also find the garage door opener that disappeared in that theft!

12-fence1On one side of the road is a field of hay. It is fenced with barbed wire. I suppose at one time the fence had a purpose, but today it is just a small hurdle for the deer, and a good place for the native birds to sit. About half way along the fence is a gate post.

12-fence2On the fence near the gate is an old piece of rusty chain. It is hooked by the barbed wire. At one time, the gate was probably secured with this.

12-fence-birdOn my walk yesterday, I left the road and started wading through the knee deep grass in the ditch. I had spotted something unusual in the long grass and had to take a closer look. A Chirpy little bird flew from fence post to fence post, either greeting me, or warning me to stay away.

12-ladys-slipperFinally I found the splash of yellow that had caught my attention. It is a clump of Yellow Lady’s Slipper orchidsCypripedium parviflorum.  What a surprise! According to the websites I consulted, these normally grow in moist, wooded, mountain areas, not in prairie ditches like ours. It just goes to show, Mother Nature knows a lot more about diversity and survival than we give her credit for!