Lady’s Slipper Orchids – No Match for the Mower

Yellow Lady’s Slipper Orchids growing in the ditch opposite us. You can see our trees at the top of the photo. At the far right of the photo is the stalk of a flowering Meadow Rue.

I’ve blogged about the Lady’s Slipper Orchids several times:  Lady’s Slipper Orchid – Surprise in the Ditch and Lady’s Slipper Orchid Mimics the Old Masters. In that post, I mentioned the fate of the orchids when the county mower bears down on them.

This year the mower arrived earlier in the season than normal and chopped off the Orchid flowers before they had a chance to go to seed. It would be an understatement to say this made me very sad. I had been visiting them and taking pictures of them every morning when I went for my walk. It was while I was photographing them that I discovered the delicate flowers of a meadow rue nearby. (Also a plastic lid and a red straw, which I’ll remove once I don’t need them to accurately mark the location of the now decapitated flowers…)

I first found the Lady’s Slipper in 2011, and while I would have loved to have one growing on my property, I contented myself with visiting them in the ditch (especially since they have established a dozen or so new clumps so close to our place.) The mower changed all that. I’m going to research the probability of success if I transplant one or two of the plants onto my property…

As for the Meadow Rue – turns out I have hundreds of them in our woods, now that I know what to look for!

Plant Profile
Common Name:  Lady’s Slipper Orchid (yellow)
Scientific Name:  Cypripedium parviflorum
Hardiness:  Zones 3-7 – found in many parts of Canada and the United States. It is a hardy plant.
Growth:  A Perennial that varies in height depending on location. In the north it can often be found in open locations with full sun. In other locations it will be found in cool rich woods.
Blooms:   Large deep-yellow flowers with long yellow-to-brown corkscrew lateral petals. Blooms over a 2 to 3 week period in early to mid spring.

12 comments

    • You probably miss the greenhouse! We’ve been thinking about a 3 season greenhouse to grow tomatoes etc in. Alberta as such a short growing season and we have the added challenge of living in Hail Alley.

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  1. I would definitely check into the possibility of transplanting them. Our local road mowers have been going deeper into ditches and along the roadside this year (for some reason), cutting down everything – including all the wildflowers we usually enjoy on our walks. It breaks my heart to see them all ripped to shreds. I have successfully transplanted a few things (wild lilies, snowdrops, some wild iris, and several lilacs) into my gardens – I’d LOVE to find orchids nearby!

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    • I don’t understand the compulsion to mow ditches! Maybe it is a ‘make work’ program for summer students. My husband found a few summer students out inspecting culverts last week…

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      • Weird. When I was in my teens, my father was the town Weed Inspector. It was his job to visit (private / corporate) properties that were weed infested and give notice to the owners to take care of them; if not, he had a team of mowers at his disposal. But the idea of mowing the sides of roads baffles me (on our street this year, instead of mowing back maybe 18″, they’ve gone right INTO the ditch and mowed both sides back several feet. All our lovely wildflowers – including lilies and milkweed – have been decimated!)

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  2. I know someone who dug up a clump of ladyslipper sin the fall (when they were done blooming) and transplanted it successfully into his flower bed. It has boomed every year ever since.

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