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!


8 Responses to “The Secret of the Super Secret Meadow”

  1. jayne 15 July, 2008 at 2:39 am #

    Oh wow… what a secret this meadow contains! The orchids are beautiful and I can’t even imagine just seeing them popping up and blooming everywhere.

  2. robin andrea 15 July, 2008 at 6:08 am #

    Orchids! There really is something so incredible about finding wild orchids. Such beautiful flowers in the Super Secret Meadow.

  3. Lynne 15 July, 2008 at 6:51 am #

    What a treat to find wild rchids growing there. Thanks for sharing the secret.

  4. Phillip Estenson 15 July, 2008 at 7:27 am #

    WOW! Those are some awesome photos. I love nature and June Lake, California looks very beautiful. Thank you for sharing…
    Phillip Estenson

  5. Mary 15 July, 2008 at 2:30 pm #


    It’s beautiful. I want to find a super secret meadow, too. Your orchid photos make me jealous – I’d have a real field day with you. And then there’s Ruby, lapping up the luxury of her very own Super Secret Meadow.

    I need to catch with you. It’s been so long… “Excuses” :o)


  6. julie Zickefoose 16 July, 2008 at 3:56 am #

    Woo Hoo! To know a place where you can go and find orchids growing wild, in profusion…you lucky girl. You just have to love anything with “gigantea” iin its Latin name. Most wild orchids are small and demure. That’n ain’t! Thank you so much.
    Chet sends Ruby a full-on muzzlepuff chew.

  7. Liza Lee Miller 16 July, 2008 at 5:06 am #

    Thanks all for sharing the secret with me. It is a magical place — this super secret meadow. I mentioned in the post how I longed to collect samples and try to grow them here — well, it turns out that the Stream Orchid is sold commercially in California so I can buy one and try to grow it without damaging that beautiful wild spot. I think that was the most magical thing of all. My step-father saw these trees growing and figured there was a spring there so he hiked in and found it. For all intents and purposes, this is truly wild country — no one goes here but him. And, as you can guess by the name he gave the meadow . . . he’s not telling. 🙂

  8. bevson 22 July, 2008 at 6:44 pm #

    Beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing. There is an alpine meadow here, high on a ridge, but there are no orchids. The only ones we have are lady’s slippers which are long gone.

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