Several years ago I was given a wooden planter filled with spring flowers. After the flowers died off, the planter was left on the patio and became repopulated with dandelions and moss! Then, three years ago, we noticed a strange plant growing there. It had long leaves which were covered with dark reddish spots. Eventually a single long stalk appeared with a spike of pale pink flowers at the top. "Hmm!" I thought. "That looks like an orchid!" A perusal of the wild flower book confirmed that indeed it was. A Common Spotted Orchid.
The following year there were 3 flower spikes, and along with those there appeared another plant, with darker purple flowers and no spots on the leaves. We identified that one as a Southern Marsh Orchid.
This year there are several more flower spikes, plus more baby plants of both varieties. The mystery is how they got there, especially as there are two completely different species! We certainly didn't plant them. They weren't there when I was first given the planter. When the first one appeared we wondered whether a seed could have been carried there by a bird or something, but when the second variety started growing, that seemed unlikely. All we can think of is that the seeds must have been dormant in the soil, and sprung to life some time after the original flowers had died off. Anyone got any other suggestions?
We may never solve the mystery, but we have some lovely flowers to enjoy!