My Showy Lady's Slipper Adventure: In Pictures
Those who have been following my posts for a while now will maybe remember past posts about my photography resolutions (original post) (revisited). For those who have started following since, or who are new here today (welcome!), I’ll quickly explain. My very first blog post EVER was about my photography resolutions, or bucket list, for the 2014 year. I wanted to give myself goals to work towards this year, and put said goals out here so that you could help keep me accountable for them. Well, I’m very excited to say that just this past weekend, I achieved one of my goals. This was a big bucket list item for me; one that I’ve wanted to accomplish for a long time, and one that I’m SUPER excited about.
The particular goal was to photograph this (in the wild, I might add):
The beautiful orchid, Minnesota’s state flower, the Showy Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium reginae).
Being that the showy lady’s slipper is Minnesota’s state flower (one of 40+ orchids found in MN), I have seen it a couple of times before this occasion, just not in the wild. The lady’s slipper is somewhat uncommon, and not the easiest to find. The species is also suffering from habitat loss, which makes it that much harder to find them.
They bloom (during an average year) from the end of June to mid-July, and can be found in a variety wet habitats including damp woods, bogs, swamps, wet meadows and wet prairies (source)
To help accomplish my goal, I researched where I could go to find the orchid. Luckily, there is lots of interest in Minnesota, so I found a variety of different parks, forests, etc. they could potentially be. The problem is that although they COULD be found in some areas, according to the map above, doesn’t necessarily mean they are there. Your best chance of finding them is in northern Minnesota, which I don’t conveniently live by (meaning I couldn’t just drive up every day to try and find them).
My husband and I picked a day that we would be able to make a day trip up north to find them. The question was where to go. During the week before our trip date, I contacted over 15 different parks and organizations to see if they could give me any information to help point me in the right direction. I heard back from about half, and some said that they lady’s slippers had already bloomed in their area, some hadn’t started yet. Finally, I heard back from a very helpful naturalist at Jay Cooke State Park who said that the slippers had just started blooming that week, and that they would probably be blooming into the next week as well. Jay Cooke is about 2 ½ hours from the Twin Cities, perfectly doable for a day trip. I was EXCITED.
The day of our day trip came, and I was ready to go. However, we seemed to run into one of those mornings where things kept popping up that pushed our departure time further and further back, to the point where I wasn’t sure we were even going to be able to go that day. We finally left around 2:00-2:30pm, MUCH later than we originally anticipated. About an hour and a half into our drive, the beautiful, sunny day we were having turned into a cloudy day with raining looking iminent. I started to get really nervous, as I knew we were already really pushing it with the available light, weather conditions, etc.
By the time we found the lady’s slippers, I was feeling really stressed about the conditions (#photographerproblems). However, like a lot of things we stress about in life, the lady’s slippers were in a beautiful, bright area even though it was cloudy, AND, the sun peaked out between the dark clouds just enough for me to snap a few sunny pictures. It was amazing.
On a side note, earlier this year during a trip to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, I found the Greater Yellow Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens) and the Small Yellow Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium parviflorum var. makasin ).
I thought it would be fun to compare these two orchids to the showy lady’s slipper. I have seen the great yellow lady's slipper in the wild, at Nerstrand State Park in southern Minnesota, but not this year. I visited this park earlier this spring, and saw the leaves, but again, they weren’t quite blooming yet.
The left & middle pictures are of the great yellow lady's slipper, and the far right picture is the small yellow lady's slipper.
What items have you crossed off your photography bucket list so far this year? What is one thing you were SUPER excited to photograph?
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