When I was a child growing up in Massachusetts, there seemed no shortage of Lady Slippers; that delicate wild orchid that is at once beautifully dainty and profoundly evocative. They are of the subfamily Cypripedioideae and grace most of the continents. According to Wikipedia:
The subfamily Cypripedioideae is monophyletic and consists of five genera. The Cypripedium genus is found across much of North America, as well as in parts of Europe and Asia. The state flower of Minnesota is the showy lady’s slipper (Cypripedium reginae). The pink lady’s slipper is also the official provincial flower of the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island.
My sister and I recall them differently. She recalls them being in the woods behind her friend’s house and I recall them being in the woods behind our house, the distinction being that we moved to a big house that had acres of woods behind it just before my sister went off to boarding school. I remember ripping them from the ground and bringing them home to my mother. She rarely scolded us but she did suggest, in that way she had, that I simply leave them be. After we moved to Florida, when I was 12-years old I rarely saw a Lady Slipper again. I had heard (incorrectly) that they were endangered. So, you can imagine my delight when I discovered two(!) Lady Slippers on the hillside at Fawn Hill in North Carolina.
This will be our third summer at Fawn Hill and every year brings more surprises. In a few days we are having some trees removed, weed trees mainly, opportunists that have grabbed at a chance to thrive, ironically in the absence of care. As we clear away more and more of this over-growth we uncover a plan. The woman who first owned this land and lived here for more than a decade was a gardener and she installed some beautiful plantings. Daffodils and tulips have popped up, peonies seem abundant, and azalea bushes are emerging from what tried, very hard, to become forest. What will surprise us when the weed trees are gone and more light reaches the bank of land behind the house? Stay tuned. ✦