The Orchid Project

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Australian terrestrial orchids 

In contrast to the readily identifiable and cultivated Dendrobium orchids which are native to northern and eastern coastal regions of Australia, terrestrial orchids are spread widely across the continent in many different habitats. In South Australia, there are more than 350 species of native orchids, many of which are very restricted in distribution, or threatened, due to land clearing, grazing, spread of weeds and use of pesticides. Changing fire behaviour and control methods also have impacted on orchid diversity. An excellent resource for appreciating and identifying our local orchids is RJ Bates’  South Australia’s Native Orchids DVD, 2011, available from the Native Orchid Society of South Australia (NOSSA).

My orchid project

Until recently, my own appreciation of native orchids had been restricted to more common flowers such as spider orchids and donkey orchids. Through NOSSA, I made contact with a local expert who has generously shared his love of these plants and has shown me most of the known species in the local area over a 12 month period. In many cases, I have returned to the same sites to watch the progression of the flowering season, recording extensively with my macro lens and using various tripod devices! After returning to my studio, I spent a lot of time cataloging my photographs and checking species identification, before starting to draw these amazing flowers. Detailed photography in the field is essential for my process, as, like all native plants, it is illegal to remove orchids from the bush!!