Managing the Orchids

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. After purchasing the property in 1984 with the help of the Nature Conservancy of Canada, MVCA pledged to preserve the site for public enjoyment.

The conservation authority 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.

The active management of the site consists of some tree clearing to allow more light into the fen, water level management through the beaver pond (also known as Purdon Lake), and hand pollination. These orchids don’t attract insects like other flowers; hand pollination helps ensure the seeds are propagated.

In recent years, deer predation has had an impact on the number of blooms. While the plants did not perish, buds and flowers were eaten impacting the aesthetics of the blooming season. The regular application of organic deer repellant has been included in the management practices. It can take up to 15 years for new plants to bloom so measuring of progress can be a slow process.

A full census of the fen to record the number of blooms this season is done once every five years to track bloom success on the site.

Visitors can stroll along an accessible boardwalk for an up close view of the flowers. The Ted Mosquin Highland Trail is a more challenging 1.3 km route alongside Purdon Lake and into the woodland that surrounds the orchid colony. Interpretive signs lead you through the site identifying the plants and wildlife and telling the Purdon story.

This unique wetland habitat is located north of the village of Lanark off County Road 8. The boardwalk, lower parking lot and washrooms are wheelchair accessible. Bus tours are welcome. Admission is by donation and the site is open dawn to dusk. Visit the MVCA website at for regular bloom updates.


A clump of Showy Lady’s Slipper Orchids at Purdon Conservation Area

Ted Mosquin

Ecologist Ted Mosquin hand pollinates a Showy Lady’s Slipper Orchid at Purdon Conservation Area. Domain For Sale For Sale

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