Orchids: A jewel of Lanark Highlands

Lanark Highlands is home to the largest colony of Showy Lady’s Slipper Orchids in Canada!

The colony at Purdon Conservation Area of more than 10,000 orchids bursts into bloom each year from mid-June to early July. The rare flowers attract thousands of people to Purdon Conservation Area, north of Lanark Village off of County Road 8.

Mississippi Valley Conversation owns and manages the site, which includes an accessible 400-metre boardwalk trail, a walking trail, viewing area and interpretive signs. The rare orchid colony exists thanks to Joe Purdon, who discovered a few dozen such flowers on his property in the 1930s. Through his perseverance and protection and work with the orchids, he was able to help the colony thrive to encompass more than 16,000 blooms!

MVC notes that the main boardwalk is best for viewing the orchids. But there is also the Ted Mosquin Highlands Trail on site at the Purdon Conservation Area which is a 1.3-kilometre loop accented by a scenic lookout of Purdon Lake, picnic area, glacial boulder and more than 50 different species of birds (a birder’s paradise!). Other wildlife and wetland species also call Purdon home – there is much to see! Admission is by donation and the site is open from dawn until dusk.

The Showy Lady’s Slippers Orchids bloom from mid-June to early July. For updates on the orchids, visit www.mvc.on.ca or call the bloom hotline at 613-259-5307 ext. 500 starting June 1. The Lanark Highlands Business and Tourism Association will also be monitoring the blooming season, so keep connected with is for regular updates at www.facebook.com/lanarkhighlandstourism or on Twitter @LHBTA.

Map courtesy of Mississippi Valley Conservation

DIRECTIONS: From Perth, follow Hwy. 511 north through Lanark Village and continue for 10 km. Turn west onto Watson’s Corners Side Road (Country Road 8). Follow this through Watson’s Corner’s Village. Continue for 10 km and turn north onto Concession Road 8 and follow the signs to the entrance. From Ottawa, take Hwy. 417 to the Toronto/Carleton Place exit onto Hwy. 7. Then, follow Hwy. 7 to Perth and continue as above.

Be sure to take the family to enjoy one of the Seven Wonders of Lanark County and marvel at some of the natural jewels of Lanark Highlands! Note: While MVC welcomes visitors to take photos of the flowers and the conservation area, it asks that visitors remain on the boardwalk and avoid disturbing the natural balance of the fen.