Orchid Overload

Jim Fowler, in a meadow of purple fringed orchids in North Carolina.

The Spring issue of Northern Woodlands just reached mailboxes this week, hopefully providing a welcome change of scenery from the wintery conditions outside your window. Among the most hopeful signs of spring in the magazine is Susan Shea’s article about the conservation of native orchids, illustrated by Jim Fowler’s stunning photographs.

Fowler is a son of the South, born in Bennettsville, South Carolina, where as a child, thanks to his father and maternal great-grandmother, he developed an interest in nature – wildflowers, especially. “Studying nature is a necessary part of a well-centered life,” said Fowler.

Native orchids have become a particular passion for Fowler, and he’s traveled throughout the US and Canada to see, write about, and photograph these plants. His writing and photography have appeared in numerous publications in North America as well as overseas, including, now, Northern Woodlands. He’s also written two books on the subject, most recently Orchids, Carnivorous Plants, and Other Wildflowers of the Green Swamp, North Carolina.

So where are his favorite orchid spots? “I’d have to split my favorite native orchid destinations between the bogs in Newfoundland and the longleaf pine savannas along the Atlantic coastal plain,” said Fowler. “Newfoundland’s bogs provide a great habitat for wet-loving orchids that are found there by the thousands. Though these bogs are deceptively treacherous; although they seem solid, you can easily sink up to your waist in seconds. I almost lost a boot in one a few years ago.” The coastal plain savannas provide habitat for many dozens of brightly colored orchid species, he added.

Fowler is recently retired (“The ability to get outdoors and commune with nature was a primary driving force in this decision,” he said), and while he still resides in South Carolina, he now has more time to travel and meet up with other orchidophiles. For those interested in learning more about orchids, he recommends attending the annual Native Orchid Conference, held in a different location each year. Besides in our Spring issue, you can see more of Jim Fowler’s breathtaking images here.

 
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