Lady slippers set to bloom at Purdon Conservation Area

Special to WC Online

CARLETON PLACE – The time of year is fast approaching to see thousands of Showy Lady’s Slipper Orchids at their peak. Purdon Conservation Area near the Village of Lanark is home to the largest colony of its kind in Canada and attracts thousands of visitors every summer.
“Purdon is a Seven Wonders of Lanark County and is owned and operated by Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority (MVCA). The orchid colony exists today thanks to the care and cultivation of Mr. Joe Purdon—the conservation area is a truly amazing legacy of this local stewardship pioneer,” said MVCA Community Relations Coordinator Shannon Gutoskie. “After purchasing the property in 1984 with the help of the Nature Conservancy of Canada, MVCA pledged to preserve the site for public enjoyment. As a water management organization, we are responsible for 410 hectares of conservation area lands across the Mississippi River watershed.”
This unique wetland habitat is located north of the village of Lanark off County Road 8. Visitors can stroll along the boardwalk for an up close view of the flowers; interpretive signs lead you through the site identifying plants and wildlife; discover the woodland that surrounds the wetland and orchid colony by walking the 1.3 kilometre forest trail, or stop for a rest and a picnic beside Purdon Lake.
“MVCA cares for the colony following a management plan created by Ted Mosquin, a well-known ecologist, who has volunteered his expertise since the mid-1980’s,” said Gutoskie. “The active management of the site consists of some tree clearing to allow more light into the fen, water level management through Purdon Lake and hand pollination.”
The boardwalk, parking lot and washrooms are wheelchair accessible. Bus tours are welcome and leashed pets are permitted.
For more information, including maps and directions, visit Admission is by donation.

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