Orchids - The flowers that provide even more encouragement for the future prospects of the truffière at Le Haut Repaire.
As spring turns to summer here in the Périgord, a truly amazing transformation takes place. Everywhere goes green - seriously green! After the oaks have come into leaf it is clear that winter has been defeated. However, it is as the walnuts finally burst that one must reach for the sunglasses to avoid being dazzled by the obscene lusciousness. The various wild flowers each take it in turn to show their colours. My opinion of the humble dandelion has completely changed since moving here. Back in the UK I would be reaching for the ‘weed wand’ at the sight of this naughty little weed. However, when faced with a walnut grove completely carpeted with yellow on account of millions of theses flowers you can’t help but be amazed. We often refer to this land as ‘Eden’ as it is just incredible how well everything grows here, including the grass!
As the summer solstice arrives, it is time for a more delicate family of plants to have their time in the spotlight. The orchids. Terrestrial orchids are under strict species protection because there existence in the wild is at great risk. Luckily for us, our truffière is brimming with them. The nutrient poor, calcareous grasslands of dry pasture offer the perfect environment for this quite magical species to flourish. The excellent drainage of the soil and lack of fertility means that the grass naturally struggles to grow here and gives a different group of animals, insects and plants the opportunity to thrive. But this is a truffière. Why do we care that it is filled with thousands of rare and beautiful flowers? Because, interestingly, the presence of the orchids provides us with even more evidence that is a truly fantastic spot to cultivate truffles as they both thrive in the same conditions. Aside from the ‘brûles’ that start to form around the bases of the inoculated trees, we have another indicator above the soil of what is most likely happening beneath the soil. Although most of these orchids are unscented, they certainly provide a wonderful whiff of what the future of this field holds.