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This eastern Ontario conservation area is home to the largest colony of lady's slipper orchids - and they're in bloom


Not far from Ottawa, there are thousands of wild orchids that bloom just once a year, and you can visit along a boardwalk.

If you're looking for a sight to see this week, the showy lady's slipper orchids are in full bloom at a conservation area in eastern Ontario.

The Purdon Conservation Area is home to the largest colony of the plant in Canada.

The Purdon Conservation Area is about a 30-minute drive northwest of Perth, Ont.

"Pretty spectacular," says Joyce Bielby, from Vancouver Island, who is visiting family. For her, this was a must-see.

"Many years ago, I saw it and I thought, it's been a long time. I'd like to make a return trip," she tells CTV News Ottawa.

Peak bloom is generally around Father's Day, and the show that nature puts on is a hit with visitors.

"They're the star of the show at Purdon every year for about three weeks," says Scott Lawryk, Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority Property Manager.

"Within the conservation area here, we have between 6,000 and 7,000 lady's slipper orchids," he says.

Why are there so many in one place?

Lawryk says the plants need very specific conditions to thrive.

"It's the moisture in the soil," he says. "There's certain kind of soil compounds that help them grow. And also they tend to enjoy the combination of other plants to be able to help them thrive as a colony."

The Purdon Conservation Area in the Lanark Highlands is home to Canada's largest colony of showy lady's slipper orchids in Canada. (Peter Szperling/CTV News Ottawa)

An elevated 450-metre long boardwalk keeps your feet dry, and the orchids safe from getting trampled or touched.

Lawryk says thousands come to see the plants in bloom each year.

"I can see why they are called lady's slippers because they look like wee shoes," one visitor told CTV News Ottawa.

Parking and admission is free. Donations are accepted. If you're planning to visit, you'd best hurry – the bloom is almost done for the year.

You can check the status of the bloom on the official page for the conservation area. Top Stories

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