Highlights: Best orchid fields in the island.
Access: Walk around the paths cut in may-June
Perrys Guide: 20 C3
Dactylorhiza maculata
(Photo: Heath-spotted Orchid )
Aerial Photo
Nature Reserves

Bridget Ozanne Orchid Fields

In the Les Vicheries lane can be found a series of small meadows, 13 of which are owned, leased or managed by La Société Guernesiaise. They are easy to see by walking down the lane, and one or two cars may be parked safely near the abreuvoir (cattle watering place) towards the south end. If you have more or large vehicles you will need to park on the coast and walk inland. When in full flower (middle of May to middle of June) paths are cut around the fields so that you may easily see and photograph the flowers.

These meadows are relics of fields that would have been up and down the west coast many years ago, before most were destroyed by development or intensive farming methods. Many of the fields here have only been managed by traditional methods for many many years i.e. no artificial fertilisers, herbicides or pesticides have been used, very little cultivation has taken place and they have not been ploughed since the war. As a result, they have maintained their original flora and are very colourful in spring, containing four species of Orchids as well as their hybrids, Ground Ivy, Bugle, Ragged Robin, Forget-me-nots, Fleabane, Yellow Iris, Cuckoo Flower, Water Mint, and a number of interesting and rare sedges and rushes.

In the past, the meadows were too wet in winter and spring for cattle and at any time for crops, so were cut for hay when dry enough, perhaps end of June or beginning of July, after most of the wild flowers had set seed. Cattle would then have grazed during the autumn, until the weather deteriorated.

Nowadays we attempt to replicate this, by cutting for hay, and occasionally having access to some cows for grazing. The Hemlock Water Dropwort has to be controlled, which would have been done by the cows' hooves in the past. We have to cut it by hand (a rather unpleasant job!) You may find a field where it is not controlled to see how it takes over.

Orchid field
Orchid field
The smallest field in the Rue des Vicheries
The variety of flowers in one of the fields
Anacamptis laxiflora
Dactylorhiza praetermissa
Loose-flowered Orchid, Anacamptis laxiflora a species not found in the U.K.
Southern Marsh-orchid, Dactylorhiza praetermissa
Dactylorhiza fuchsii
Dactylorhiza maculata
Common Spotted-orchid, Dactylorhiza fuchsii
Dactylorhiza hybrid
Hybrid Orchid, Dactylorhiza cross
Bugle, Ajuga reptans
Tufted Forget-me-not Water Mint
Tufted Forget-me-not, Myosotis laxa
Water Mint, Mentha aquatica




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Candie Gardens, St Peter Port, Guernsey GY1 1UG, Channel Islands.