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The Dolomites in mid-June 2023 – Day 2: La Villa to Corvara

July 20, 2023
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On the Buses

In the morning Helen’s legs were feeling the awkward descent we made on Day 1.  We had purchased weekly bus passes, and wanted to get some value from them. So we started the day with a circuitous trip on the buses, to see some of the places and views we had not visited the previous year.

Coral Root orchids

However, by early afternoon we were feeling more lively, so we got off the bus at La Villa, intending to walk back up the path along the river (the Ru Tort) to Corvara.  We had been told about a possible site for Coral Root orchids (Corallorhiza trifida) along this path.  We didn’t find them, either because of the late season, or because we failed to identify the site correctly.  Or maybe the plants just weren’t there any more – last summer was a long hot drought in this part of Italy.

La Villa Meadows

Immediately the path left the main road in La Villa, meadows full of flowers slowed us to a halt. In 2022 at this date, the valley meadows were long past their best, and most had been cut for hay.  This year they were glorious, with Yellow Rattle, Ox-eye daisies, Red Clover, Field scabious (Knautia arvensis), Buttercups, Goatsbeard (Tragopogon pratensis), Salvia pratensis, Onobrychis montana, Campanula glomerata, and more, all woven together into a wonderful tapestry.

Oilseed Rape

As we wandered slowly down the path, we came to a section where the bank was foaming with oilseed rape.

Campanula patula

The next wonderful scene mixed white daisies with the open, blowing bells of Campanula patula, one of my favourite campanulas.  I have grown it from seed several times, but cannot get it to establish here.

Salvia pratensis

We were down in the bottom of the valley now, approaching the river.  In the next meadow, Meadow clary (Salvia pratensis) caught the eye.  Along with the waving heads of the scabious.

Familiar plants surrounded us – Vicia sepium, Trifolium pratense and Ranunculus acris.

Geranium sylvaticum

When we walked into more shaded areas, Geranium sylvaticum made a nice contrasting mix with the buttercups.

Berberis vulgaris

The flowers of this Berberis puzzled me for a while, before I worked out what it was.

Clematis alpina

Clematis alpina adorned the trees by the side of the path.

Thalictrum aquilegifolium

Below, the frothy heads of Thalictrum aquilegifolium, and below that, wild strawberries (Fragaria vesca).

Petasites hybridus

The leaves and seedheads of Butterburr (Petasites hybridus) lined the path, occasionally invading meadows, and looking rather like Gunnera in the sun.


We climbed on slowly, as the river came rushing down to meet us.


Where the woods were thicker, we saw typical woodland species:

  • The purple and yellow flowers of Polygala chamaebuxus var grandiflorus which eluded us last year
  • Maianthemum bifolium
  • Paris quadrifolia
  • Saxifraga rotundifolia
  • Not to mention wood ants

Back to Corvara

Eventually we crossed the river again, and wandered through meadows of cow parsley and bistort (Polygonum bistorta), back towards our hotel.  A much shorter day, but a pleasant walk to stretch our legs out again.

Image of Jon Evans Jon Evans

Jon lives and gardens on the north side of the Hogsback on the border between Hampshire and Surrey, on a heavy clay soil. He is a long standing member of the AGS and has been treasurer of the local group in Woking for many years. He is interested in bulbs of all sorts, particularly those from South Africa, and is progressing slowly towards his Gold Medal at shows, at the rate of roughly one first per year.

However, he is best known within the AGS as an enthusiastic amateur photographer. For about 10 years he was responsible for organising the artistic and photographic section of the AGS shows around the country, and also for organising the show photography. During this period, he set up and ran the AGS Digital Image Library. He still visits many shows each year to catalogue the extraordinary achievements of the exhibitors, and is actively involved in other plant photography, both in gardens both public and private, and on outings to view and photograph wild flowers in the UK.

If you have any comments or queries for Jon, you can contact him direct at