Archive | 12:52 am

The Secret of the Super Secret Meadow

15 Jul

I know it’s supposed to be Ruby Tuesday but Ruby is giving up the floor so that I can keep my promise to share the secret of the Super Secret Meadow . . . you’ll see a tiny bit of Ruby at the end, no fears!

Come back with me to the Super Secret Meadow.  If you remember, we saw lots of wildflowers here but there were two wildflowers that I saved to share with you in a special way.  First of all, many of us read Julie Zickefoose’s blog and there is something Julie is well known for . . . no not her wealth of knowledge on birds and birding, no, not her phenomenal ability to paint birds, no, not the incomparable Chet Baker, no, not her naughty parrot, no, not her nearly unbelievable bird rehabilitation stories, no, not her fantastic kids or lovely garden or . . . yes, that’s right, orchids!  Julie has the most amazing orchids and has encouraged many of us to try growing orchids for ourselves.

Well, the real secret of the Super Secret Meadow is that there are two different kinds of wild orchids growing in this super secret place.  The Super Secret Meadow is somewhere near June Lake, California.  June Lake sits at around 7500 feet above sea level on the easter side of the Sierra Nevada mountains.  This is high desert but clearly not all of it is desert.  There is a fresh water spring up here as well as a mineral water seep.  These conditions encouraged the super secret meadow to form and form it did.  And, these conditions allow orchids to thrive too.

Super-Secret Meadow

Look closely at this picture and you’ll see white or pale green spires sticking up all over the place.  That is our first and most abundant orchid in the Super Secret Meadow. It is the White Rein Orchid which is also known as a Sierra Bog Orchid.   It’s scientific name is Platanthera dilatata or Habenaria dilatata (evidently it’s undergoing a taxon change — well, we birders understand that one, don’t we?  Ask me how my Blue Grouse became a Dusky Grouse that was really a Sooty Grouse).

White Rein Orchid

White Rein Orchid

White Rein Orchid

Isn’t it lovely?

The other orchid found in and near the Super Secret Meadow is the Stream Orchid.  We actually saw these along the trail to the Super Secret Meadow.  The Stream Orchid’s scientific name is Epipactis gigantea.

Stream Orchid

Stream Orchid

Look at those gorgeous colors.

I absolutely fell in love with these beautiful orchids.  They are so, so beautiful.  I was so happy to see them wild and thriving.  I desperately wanted to take them all home with me — and they both do grow in Santa Cruz county — but that would have been so wrong.  And if I collected them and they didn’t survive.  Well, I don’t think I could live with that.  Better to collect photographs and know they are there, thriving, wild, and in a Super Secret Meadow.

Ruby in Super Secret Meadow

Ruby hopes you liked the Super Secret Meadow as much as she did!