A heady celebration of the beauty and history of the wild orchid species of the British Isles, embraced in one glorious and kaleidoscopic summer-long hunt by naturalist Jon Dunn.
From the chalk downs of the south coast of England to the heathery moorland of the Shetland Isles, and from the holy island of Lindisfarne in the east to the Atlantic frontier of western Ireland, Orchid Summer is a journey into Britain and Ireland's most beautiful corners. The flowers that are the focus of this treasure hunt are exquisite and diverse. Some resemble insects and develop scents that mimic the smell of a virgin female wasp in order to lure male wasps to sample their unsatisfying charms. Some tower above the surrounding vegetation; others are vanishingly small and discrete. Some are sweetly scented; others smell of ripe billy goats. Some can be readily found but some will prove more elusive – none more so than the last to flower, the rarest of them all, the ghost orchid…
Capturing the intoxicating beauty of these rare and charismatic flowers, Orchid Summer is also an exploration of their history, their champions, their place in our landscape and the threats they face. Combining infectious enthusiasm and a painterly eye with a deep knowledge that comes from a lifetime's passionate devotion to their study, Dunn sweeps us up on his adventure, one from which it is impossible not to emerge enchanted and enriched.
"[...] In Orchid Summer, the subject is not so much the author as the flowers. Jon Dunn, an experienced all-round naturalist and photographer based in Shetland, m ade a very thorough quest. Not only did he knock off the species but he also found many of the colour varieties and hybrids.He has considerable knowledge and expertise. Some of his many digressions into orchid lore, orchid heroes and orchid feats were new to me.[...]"
– Peter Marren, British Wildlife 29(4), April 2018
"From Muckle Flugga to the Isles of Scilly, this is a journey through Britain as you've never quite seen it before – a riveting orchidaceous journey to find our most elaborate, elusive and desired flowers. Jon Dunn is a marvellous guide – a wide-ranging polymath, learning lightly worn, he paints evocative pictures and delivers delicious tales"
– Patrick Barkham, author of The Butterfly Isles
I am thoroughly enjoying 'Orchid Summer', not only is it a fascinating and entertaining read, which I am devouring at leisure. I am on p172 atm, almost my home patch, I live just over the border in Sussex at Elsted. It is a physical delight to read too, well bound and with its own ribbon bookmark. It not only covers wonderful detail of the orchids found but also covers much interesting historical and literary detail too.
Jon Dunn is a natural-history writer, photographer and tour leader based in Shetland, who travels worldwide searching for memorable wildlife encounters. A childhood exploring the water meadows and abandoned orchards of the Somerset Levels and the droves and ancient woods of Dorset's Blackmoor Vale spurred a lifelong passion for all things natural history based. His Shetland home features otters on his doorstep, and summer evenings watching porpoises from the kitchen window. Once stalked by a mountain lion in Mexico's Sierra Madre Occidental, he generally prefers experiencing wildlife on his own terms and not as part of the food chain.