The number one plant that people call the Sanctuary about are the lady’s slippers. This is the week to come see the small yellow lady’s slippers in our gardens. There are beautiful clumps of these small yellow orchids in several of our gardens and they are about to be at peak bloom.[lightbox link=”http://norcrosswildlife.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Cypripedium_parviflorum.sm_yellow_ls5-e1495224888234.jpg” thumb=”http://norcrosswildlife.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Cypripedium_parviflorum.sm_yellow_ls5-150×150.jpg” width=”150″ align=”left” title=”” frame=”true” icon=”image” caption=””]Lady’s slippers are a rare sight, and the small yellow one is quite beautiful and quite reliable in our gardens. We used to say that they bloom around Memorial Day, but that date is moving closer to the middle of May in recent years. Yellow lady’s slippers are found in neutral, or limestone soils – something we don’t often find in this part of the state. If you are lucky, this plant can be seen in Berkshire county where the mountains are actually former sea bed that was heaved up due to plate tectonics around 480 million years ago. Berkshire county is the place to find many of our lime-loving wildflowers (Bartholomew’s Cobble is a good example). Here at Norcross our plants are living in a limestone-spiked garden where the pH of the soils remains above 6.0 and they are truly a sight to see.
Pink lady’s slippers are more typically found in this part of the Massachusetts, where our soil pH hover around 4.5 -5.5. Unfortunately, we do not have many pink flowers along our walking trails. Pink lady’s slippers are plants of disturbance. They like an area that has been logged or where the canopy has been disturbed. Despite the damage that they cause and the nuisance that they are the Gypsy moths caterpillar causes the kind of disturbance these orchids prefer through defoliation of the canopy trees. If you know of an area where there was severe defoliation last year, keep an eye out for more pink lady’s slippers in the next week or two. As rare species and orchids, do not dig or remove any of these plants from the wild. Pink lady’s slippers grow in conjunction with mycorrhizae in the soil and although the plant moves easily, the fungus does not. [lightbox link=”http://norcrosswildlife.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Cyp_acaule-e1495225406156.jpg” thumb=”http://norcrosswildlife.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Cyp_acaule-150×150.jpg” width=”150″ align=”right” title=”” frame=”true” icon=”image” caption=””]
Get out on the trails! Enjoy this beautiful weather. We are coming into the peak bloom time for all wildflowers and even if you do not see the lady’s slippers, there are plenty of other wildflowers to see. The gardens at Norcross will be at their spring peak from now through about mid-June. Come visit us Tuesday through Saturday, 9am to 4pm.