Monday 20 June 2016

Big Yellow bee orchids are back

Chris Durdin, NWT Volunteer

I know what you are thinking: bee orchids aren’t big and not much of them is yellow.

The Big Yellow here is the Self Storage company on Canary Way, opposite Norwich City FC. It’s been a reliable place to see bee orchids in the heart of Norwich for several years. That it’s reliable isn’t down to chance: the staff at Big Yellow have been persuaded to enjoy and protect their unlikely guests. The temptation to be tidy is resisted.

The meadow in the city had 30 bee orchid plants in flower when I visited on 19 June, which is double my tally from last year. It’s a great step forward from when I first saw a few spikes of flowers in 2009 and persuaded the man with the strimmer to leave them.

A friend of mine suggests that orchids are popular “because they look expensive.” They are certainly a work of beauty in miniature – perhaps ‘priceless’ rather than expensive.

At Big Yellow, the orchids’ glamour has helped a pocket-handkerchief wildlife community. Ox-eye daisies dominate the meadow, visually, but there is St John’s wort, mouse-ear hawkweed and more.

I found several bright common blue damselflies, too, and a scary-looking yellow-and-black ichneumon wasp that was just too quick to be photographed.

The bee orchids are at their best so now’s the ideal time to take a look: you can see them from the pavement. If you have a moment to pop in and say thanks to the Big Yellow team it can only help the show to go on.


Chris Durdin leads monthly wildlife walks at NWT Thorpe Marshes. Details of monthly walks on

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