The Olive Grove already contains some plants which are native to open ground along the Mediterranean coast and we are looking to expand the range of species. One group of plants which are particularly characteristic are the Ophrys group of orchids which are very much a feature of the Mediterranean early in the season before the hot, dry weather kicks in. Ophrys species have undergone a remarkable divergence in species adapted to be polinated by very specific insect polinators, their flowers adapted to mimic specific bees and wasps. We are making attempts to see if any of these can be grown successfully out of doors here and have been surprisewd how very ealy in the season some of them have produced flowers. We have had blooms on Mirror Orchids (Ophrys speculum) and Sawfly Orchids (Ophrys tenthredinifera) in January this year!
Undoubtedly, the mild winter has encouraged them into early flower, at a time when they would flower much further south, however the accompanying very wet weather has not been conducive and the plants are now suffering from a surfeit of moisture. It remains to be seen whether or not they are able to survive until next year. Interestingly, a Sawfly Orchid appeared on the Dorset coast in April 2014 although there is doubt as to whether it arrived there naturally.