This course will cover the identification, ecology and distribution of orchids as well as the astonishing pollination mechanisms which have evolved. The field excursions will provide plenty of opportunities for photography. No previous knowledge is necessary; this is a course for anyone interested in wild orchids.

We will look at the extensive areas of chalk grassland, scrub and woodland on and around Box Hill. The area has a very rich orchid flora, and we should see around a dozen species, most of them in flower, including White Helleborine, Birdsnest Orchid, Common Twayblade, Greater Butterfly Orchid, Common Spotted Orchid, Chalk Fragrant Orchid, Man Orchid, Bee Orchid and Fly Orchid. Depending on the season, we also have an excellent chance of finding the diminutive, honey-scented Musk Orchid. As well as looking at identification features, we will pay particular attention to the flower structure and pollination mechanisms, and the special relationship between orchids and fungi. Box Hill supports many other interesting plants, including Columbine, Deadly Nightshade and the nationally rare Green Hound’s-tongue, while the dense stands of Box and Yew that cloak much of the hill are unique in Britain.

By combining this course with the later orchid course at FSC Juniper Hall you will see almost half of all British orchid species. Due to the location of orchid habitats this course requires a reasonable level of fitness involving a good deal of walking in some difficult terrain.

Book both course 1 and 2 and pay a discounted total of £100. To receive this offer please ring the centre directly.

Tutor: Simon Harrap

Simon Harrap is a naturalist and photographer specialising in flowers and birds. He has authored several books, including Orchids of Britain and Ireland: A Field and Site Guide (with Anne Harrap), A Pocket Guide to the Orchids of Britain and Ireland, Harrap’s Wild Flowers, Flowers of the Norfolk Broads and Flowers of the Norfolk Coast, as well as the RSPB Pocket Guide to British Birds, Tits, Nuthatches and Treecreepers and Where to Watch Birds in Britain. For over 25 years he led overseas birdwatching tours, specialising in southern Asia and Madagascar, as well as organising botanical walks and workshops in Norfolk. Nowadays, together with Anne Harrap, he manages ‘Natural Surroundings’, a plant nursery, gardens and reserve in North Norfolk dedicated to the promotion of wildlife-friendly gardening, plants and other British wildlife.

Example Timetable

Start and finish times
Each day will begin at 09.30 and finish at 17.30.

If you wish to attend both days and need accommodation please contact the centre who will provide options in the local area.

Orchids 1:

  • 09.30: Introductory briefing.
  • 09.45-14.00: Walking Juniper Hall - Juniper Tip path - folly - Zig-Zag road - Juniper Hall with picnic lunch en route.
  • 14.00-14.30: Coffee and biscuits at Juniper Hall
  • 14.30-16.00: Drive to The Hazels and explore for Fly Orchid.
  • 16.00: Drive to nearby grassland and explore for Musk Orchid.
  • 17.30: Back at Juniper Hall

What's Included

  • Expert Tuition
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Hot and Cold Drinks
  • In Course Transport
  • Personal and Travel Insurance

Before You Attend

Please bring the following with you if you can:

  • Notebook and pencil
  • Small rucksack or bag
  • Hand lens (X10 magnification) – these can be borrowed from the Centre
  • Waterproofs (just in case!) - these can be borrowed from the Centre
  • Stout shoes or boots (wellies can be borrowed from the Centre)
  • Lunch
  • Water bottle and/or thermos flask
  • Hat and Sunscreen
  • Casual clothing
Clear