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Bee orchid colony returns to bloom in “meadow in the city”

PUBLISHED: 17:29 06 June 2017 | UPDATED: 17:38 06 June 2017

A bee orchid in the

A bee orchid in the "meadow in the city". Photo: Chris Durdin.

Chris Durdin

A colony of bee orchids has flowered again in a local wildlife spot known as the “meadow in the city.”

Chris Durdin and Helder De Sousa outside the Big Yellow Storage Company in Norwich city centre. Photo: Jessica Frank-Keyes.Chris Durdin and Helder De Sousa outside the Big Yellow Storage Company in Norwich city centre. Photo: Jessica Frank-Keyes.

Located outside the Big Yellow Storage company, opposite Carrow Road, the cluster of flowers currently has around eight blooms of the lilac and yellow buds; named the “bee orchid” after their stripy appearance.

While the orchids are not rare, their appearance year on year in a city centre location has brought a touch of glamour to the surroundings of the nearby Norwich retail park. The city centre wildlife oasis also features oxeye daisies and other wildflowers, and attracts wildlife including common blue damselflies, ladybirds, bumblebees and swallows.

The flowers were first spotted in 2009 by Chris Durdin, 61, a UEA economics graduate and local nature enthusiast. They blossom in early June for around ten days each year, making this week the ideal opportunity to take a look at them.

Helder De Sousa, 57, a sales advisor at the Big Yellow Storage Company, said it was “really nice” to have the little piece of wildlife near to the business premises.

A common blue damselfly resting in the wildflower meadow. Photo: Chris Durdin.A common blue damselfly resting in the wildflower meadow. Photo: Chris Durdin.

“The last two or three years we’ve been in agreement with Head Office to protect the flowers.”

The blooms are staked out where they appear, and the grass of the “meadow” is not cut completely until they are gone, ensuring the orchids keep flowering year after year.

Mr de Sousa says the mini nature reserve gets a great response from customers, with people dropping by specifically to visit the blooms.

“It shows that Big Yellow as a company listens to local needs,” he said.

An oxeye daisy with a red ladybird on its petals. Photo: Chris Durdin.An oxeye daisy with a red ladybird on its petals. Photo: Chris Durdin.

“We asked to hold back [on mowing the grass] and let it grow naturally.”

It also provides some ‘nice publicity’ for the business, according to Mr de Sousa: “You need people to care about different issues.”

Chris Durdin, who describes himself as a “keen naturalist” after working for the RSPB for over thirty years, said: “I think it’s all about location: this meadow here in the city, with a wonderful show of oxeye daisies with bee orchids cropping up every year, cheek by jowl with people walking past shopping in Morrisons.

“It’s not because they’re rare but they are very special and lovely flowers. We all love orchids and to have them growing so close to the city centre is wonderful.”

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