Polona and Peter Strgar are two of the local people who love discovering the mysterious beauty of the flowers of Bohinj. Peter has caught many flowers on camera that otherwise skilfully evade curious eyes. One such flower is the ghost orchid, which grows in the forest. “I had been searching for this one for several years, even though the botanist Igor Dakskobler had told me where the flower had been spotted and when to look for it,” Peter said about the “hunt” for one of the rarest orchids in Slovenia. “I finally found it and realised that it had been right in front of me the whole time – I was able to see its habitat from the window of my house.”
Polona remembers finding bumblebee orchid in Soteska. This is a wild orchid similar to the garden orchid, but with smaller flowers. “You just want to stroke it,” she said enthusiastically about her find. She also sees that foreigners on her wild flower guided walks, especially the English, share the same enthusiasm. “They are excited when they find every flower, even ones that we consider ordinary,” Polona said and added: “On these occasions you become aware of what we have here.”
The idea of organising the International Wild Flower Festival in Bohinj every May and June came from the UK. The Scot Ian Mitchell, a regular guest in Bohinj, fell in love with Bohinj’s nature and its blossoming richness. This is why he became one of the main initiators of the festival. The idea soon bore fruit and the festival is now expanding every year. There are many local people who work together at various events organised under the main topic – wild flowers. They organise music evenings, craft workshops, tours, and some flowers even fall into the saucepan!
Since children are our future, the local primary school and kindergarten have been cooperating with the festival from the very beginning. The children gain knowledge of the diversity of wild flowers growing in their environment through various activities. The youngest can also learn about nature in interesting ways with the help of fairytale characters from Bohinj at the two-day event entitled U konc’ sveta so pravljice doma (Fairy Tales are at Home at the End of the World).
Raising awareness among the young pays off. Former forester and amateur botanist Ivan Veber has noticed that the younger generations have more respect for wild flowers than older people, who often pick flowers, even rare ones, just to put them in vases.
When you arrive in Bohinj, look carefully – perhaps a wild orchid will surprise you on your way. But take care! Leave it where it is, since it feels best right where it grows.