Homefield Wood

Orchid spotting at Homefield Wood, Buckinghamshire

My family doesn’t share my love of orchids. Or, more specifically, the walks spent looking for them.

Back in mid-May we visited the BBOWT reserve at Homefield Wood in Buckinghamshire. Although relatively small it’s one of only three sites in the UK where military orchids flower, a good enough reason to drive an hour to reach it. Or at least I thought so!

Military orchids, Homefield Wood
Military orchids, Homefield Wood

The reserve is a short walk through the Forestry Commission’s woodland. As we arrived the military orchids were immediately visible in the meadow, along with other chalk loving plants. Aside from the flowers, the most impressive sight was the number of bees, insects and butterflies flying and buzzing around the grassland. Something that is sadly lacking on my local farmland walks.

However, despite the rarity of military orchids (in the UK), they weren’t my favourite find.

Fly orchid, Homefield Wood
Fly orchid, Homefield Wood

I preferred the fly orchid. Although it was only when another visitor pointed one out to me that I realised I’d already walked past several without realising. It might have been hard to spot but it’s easy to identify. Why? The fly orchid, erm, looks like a fly!

Common twayblade, Homefield Wood
Common twayblade, Homefield Wood

Alongside the fly orchids I found common twayblade. Compared to other orchids it’s nondescript so I didn’t mention it to the family. If they’re not excited by colourful orchids how would I interest them in this one?

Walking through Homefield Wood
Walking through Homefield Wood

The family had skulked off into the woods at this point. My other half looking for birds, my son and daughter taunting each other with sticks. I remained in the meadow, chatting to a couple of visitors laden with expensive looking camera gear.

Military orchids, Homefield Wood
Military orchids, Homefield Wood

They told me most of the military orchids were in another field, a short walk away through the wood. I headed over to find a much larger patch, some roped off to protect them from human feet. Volunteers cleared this area several years ago allowing the orchids to flourish and conservation work looked ongoing. Thanks to these efforts over 700 military orchids were recorded on the reserve in 2016.

Walking back to the entrance I detoured into the woodland to find my last orchid of the day, white helleborine, growing under the beech trees. I strolled happily back to the car to find the family waiting, bored, hot and only placated by the promise of an ice cream.

If you, unlike my family, are interested in orchids you might also enjoy reading my posts about Hartslock and Warburg nature Reserves.

More info

  • Homefield Wood is 2.5 miles from Marlow. It’s not the easiest reserve to find so follow the directions on the BBOWT website.
  • I highly recommend Peter Creed’s ‘Guide to finding orchids in Berkshire,  Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire’.

4 thoughts on “Orchid spotting at Homefield Wood, Buckinghamshire”

  1. Orchids are so beautiful. It sounds a wonderful place. I loved the photos of the military ones you posted on Instagram. The fly orchids are something else. So intriguing, yet slightly sinister.

    Couldn’t help chuckling. Your description of family interest – so real! I’m pleased if my lot show a little interest. I like to think I am planting acorn of interest in their heads.

  2. Hi Christine, I’d go orchid spotting any day with you! I think we get military orchids here, well they look the very similar and I know they are a type of orchid. I’ve not seen the fly one before, although we do seem to get plenty of bee orchids here.

    When on the mainland I did see some orchids that we don’t get here, but in my rush to take a photo and not get left behind it didn’t come out too well. Which gives me a good reason to go back!


  3. Just been out there today and yes it’s amazing. I did like the military orchids but like you was Korean impressed with the fly orchid- it looks as though its died but you look closer and realise the flowers are alive!!

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