Orchids and SW France Weather April 2013

Orchids grow abundantly in our region at this time of year. We have good and bad orchid years – no doubt a reflection of the weather we’ve had. This year is a good one. Our walking group took a route last Wednesday starting from Lavaurette, a pretty village on the last outcrop of the Massif Central. The soil around there is particularly favourable for orchids and we saw many different varieties.

Here are some photos of a few of them – taken only with my small point and shoot camera, so not brilliant quality. I haven’t been able to identify them all, so if you know what they are – or if I’ve got any wrong – please leave a comment below.

Orchis militaris

Orchis militaris

Cephalantera longifolia

Cephalantera longifolia

Anacamptis pyramidalis

Anacamptis pyramidalis

The consensus (well, two anyway) seems to be that the following is probably a yellow bee orchid, Ophrys Lutea

Unidentified orchid

Unidentified orchid

Any suggestions for this one? Maggie below has identified this one as violet limodore and, having looked it up on various websites, I can confirm I agree with that. 

Also unidentified and not yet fully in flower

Also unidentified and not yet fully in flower

Thanks very much to everyone who has helped me identify these orchids.

Every month I post an update on how the weather has been in our corner of southwest France, based on the statistics we have kept since 1998. To see the other weather posts, please click on ‘Weather’ under the Topics tab in the right-hand sidebar.

Weather assessment for April

A quick reminder of our subjective weather assessment: we assign each day a plus if it’s fine, a minus if it’s bad and a zero if it’s indifferent or we can’t decide. In April, we had:

Pluses – 8
Zeros – 11
Minuses – 11

The chart below shows the percentage of plus days each April for the past 15 years (the line is the trend). This April was one of the worst, continuing in the tradition established at the beginning of the year. Two Aprils have been the same; only last year’s was worse, when it rained nonstop. It really has been a grim and miserable year so far.

Weather April 2013

Weather April 2013

Rainfall

Our rainfall stats go back to August 2004. Bucking the trend for the year, we had less than average rainfall in April – 77.5 mm compared to the average of 92.4 mm. But it rained on 12 days as opposed to the 11 we would normally expect. Despite having less rain, April was generally cool and grey, punctuated by the odd sunny, warm day.

The total rainfall for the year to date is about 30 per cent higher than average – 397 mm compared to 306.7 on average.

Rainfall 2013 to date

Rainfall 2013 to date

We had no frost nights in April this year.

We still have the Saints de Glace to come: the 10th (Saint Mamert), 11th (Saint Pancrace) and 12th (Saint Servais). It’s not uncommon for the temperature to drop around those dates and even for frost to result (although we haven’t recorded any frosts in May here). Farmers used to invoke the three saints to protect their crops from the cold weather.

Avant Saint-Servais, point d’été, après Saint-Servais, plus de gelée. (Before Saint Servais’ day, no summer; afterwards, no more frost).

To finish, here’s a couple of shots of deer grazing in the field behind our house. The buttercups were magnificent this year and the deer took full advantage. Our area has been a réserve de chasse for the past four years, meaning that hunting is not allowed. The animals can clearly read the signs and have all piled into our garden. I have had to surround my shrubs and roses with cages to stop them nibbling at them.

Deer helping itself to buttercups

Deer helping itself to buttercups

Partners in crime

Partners in crime

Copyright © 2013 Life on La Lune, all rights reserved

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About nessafrance

My husband and I moved to an 18th-century farmhouse in SW France in 1997. I am fascinated by French history, rural traditions and customs and enjoy seeking out the reality behind the myths. I run my own copywriting business and write short stories and the occasional novel in my spare time. My husband appears here as the SF, which stands for Statistics Freak, owing to his penchant for recording numbers about everything.
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24 Responses to Orchids and SW France Weather April 2013

  1. pfornari says:

    I just love orchids, Vanessa, and we are so spoilt with them here – I haven’t a clue what types they are, but the ‘common’ purple ones are incredibly cheap at every flower stall lining our busy roads. I have white droopy ones living on (or rather, living off) my trees in the garden. They only flower for two weeks in the year, but what a treat when they do!

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  2. amelie88 says:

    Beautiful pictures of the orchids and other flowers. Everything is starting to bloom around here too, including the trees. It’s so wonderful to see the Earth come back to life again.

    We do not have reserves de chasse for deer here mostly because they are a huge problem. We have a deer hunting season which typically occurs in the fall, but I believe if you live out in the country and you own a gun, you can shoot a deer and probably not get fined for it. We have a family of about 5 that have been lingering in our backyard since at least last fall. They eat everything and anything, which drives my father up the wall. Not to mention the rabbits, the woodchuck (who has come out of hibernation, just saw him last week for the first time), and the multitude of squirrels.

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    • nessafrance says:

      The orchids are lovely this year.

      The idea of the réserve de chasse is to allow the animals to breed and regenerate in certain areas. Normally an area is designated a réserve for three years. Ours has been one for four now and it may continue for another couple of years before they can hunt again. Unfortunately, the deer and wild boar are all regenerating in our garden and eat or trample my tenderest plants. Interestingly, we have no rabbits at all here – probably because of myxematosis – but we do have some lovely hares.

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      • amelie88 says:

        We don’t need reserves de chase because the deer have to problem reproducing. In fact there’s a problem with overpopulation here. It is very common to get into car accidents because deer will suddenly jump out into the street to cross (since they don’t exactly think to look both ways before crossing) and well, as you can imagine, the results are often disastrous–for the car and the deer. We also live in a much bigger country than France, so the deer have a much bigger area to roam around which is probably why the idea of a reserve here would be met with much opposition!

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      • nessafrance says:

        I can imagine the situation would be very different in the states. Here, I’m surprised our immediate area has been a réserve for so long, since it’s normally only for 3 years. The animals can roam about freely into other areas but they quickly learn where they are safe from being hunted!

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  3. barefoot60 says:

    I really enjoy your article orchards are gorgeous. We drove through Central Massive a couple of years ago in our camper van but could find places to park for the night. It’s an amazing area with stunning views.
    I would love to live in France but that will only happen if my hubby can get more work there.
    I look forward to reading more about your area

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    • nessafrance says:

      Thanks. I love orchids – there’s something so exotic about them.

      We are in the southern foothills of the Massif Central, so not in the really stunning bit. However, we do go there a couple of times a year for walking and I’m always sorry to leave. I’ve posted about it a couple of times if you’re interested:

      Awesome Auvergne
      Blithe Spirits

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      • Beverley says:

        Thank you so much I really enjoyed readin your others posts, I smiled when I read about the cowbells, we drove into Switzerland from France a couple of years ago and my husband said do you hear the cowbells, I didn’t belive him I thought he was trying to catch me out untill he stopped the camper and showed me the cows in the field with the bells, Quite awesome as I had never seen anything like it. I will continue to follow you writings as they bring to my memory very happy days in a place that I love.

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      • nessafrance says:

        Thanks for following, Beverley. I love the sound of cowbells in the Auvergne. We do a lot of walking up there and the sound travels a long way. I imagine it must be like that in Switzerland – where I haven’t been for years.

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  4. Maggie says:

    Hi Vanessa, the unidentified orchid is violet limodore. There is a great website called les orchidées de nejac with lots of great pictures, french english and latin names. Thanks for your pictures, I love orchids.

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    • nessafrance says:

      Hi Maggie, thanks for this. I’ve looked it up and I think you’re right. It’s a pity it hadn’t opened out when I snapped it. But it’s good to get the final name!

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  5. Kate Swaffer says:

    Wonderful photos Vanessa, further enticement for walking and travel next year!! Don’t you just love Mr Google showing up our images and adding to our knowledge!! Take care and enjoy those orchids.

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    • nessafrance says:

      I wish the photos were a bit better but I didn’t have the right camera with me for that sort of shot. Hope you can get here in spring – that’s when the flowers are at their best and it’s still green and lush.

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  6. Jennifer Stark says:

    I think your yellow orchid could be Ophrys Lutea or Yellow Ophrys also called yellow bee orchid.

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    • nessafrance says:

      Thanks for this, Jennifer. You could be right. I’ve Googled it and found some rather better photos than the one I took, which I have compared with mine in close up. It does look very similar, except that the markings on the ‘bee’ itself don’t look quite the same. But then I freely acknowledge that my photo isn’t great.

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  7. I love orchids and deer too. We get orchids in our orchard which I am always careful to mow around, thankfully the deer are only ever seen out of the village.

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    • nessafrance says:

      We get groups of orchids on our lawns, which I also mow around, leaving rather tatty grassy clumps until the orchids have disappeared. But they are so exotic it would be a pity to mow them down.

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  8. That unidentified flower is a beauty. All the others were lovely too. I can’t say I’ve seen many of those around here. We get lots of chevreuils too. Hunting goes on around us all winter but there seem to be more deer than ever every year, which I can’t say I mind. But then they’re not eating my flowers!

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    • nessafrance says:

      I do like to see the chevreuils but I get very cross when they make a tasty meal out of the tender shoots on my shrubs! The affected branches then die. On balance, though, that’s what you have to expect if you live in the country.

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  9. Sue Whatmough says:

    I love orchids. We don’t have many varieties around here and have yet to see any this year.
    I wish we had réserve de chasse in our valley. Only today we had to listen to the hunting dogs up in the woods. We thought the season was over, but apparently not.

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  10. Liz says:

    Beautiful! I’ve only noticed the small purples here, so I’ll take a harder look now. Is the second to last, not a bee orchid? The very last looks potentially very exciting … I don’t think I’ve seen anything like that at all.

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    • nessafrance says:

      In our immediate area, we get only a few varieties, but where we walked the soil favours orchids particularly. I don’t think the second to last is a bee orchid. It’s not a very good shot, I’m afraid. And I’d love the see the last one in its flowering state. I’m almost tempted to go back just to find it.

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