Saturday 10 February 2018

Botanical Bounty in The Garden of England - Kent in May

I've wanted to visit Kent in May for many years now and last year this actually happened and it was well worth the wait! We visited on two occasions once in mid May and again later in the month in order to see the later flowering orchids. One site I'd read about was Bonsai Bank in Denge Wood. It was every bit as amazing as I'd hoped. The Lady Orchids were simply exquisite and in so many different shades of purple and pink. Here's a small selection of them.

 I'll stop now but you get the idea.

Lady Orchid - Orchis purpurea

Not only does Denge Wood have a profusion of these beautiful orchids it also has this little beauty...

Duke of Burgundy - Hamearis lucina

In a fleeting visit to Yockletts Bank we saw more Lady Orchids and some nice Fly Orchids too.

Fly OrchidOphrys insectifera

Darland Banks at Gillingham is well known for its Man Orchids and rightly so, there were hundreds of them and again surprisingly variable in colour and size.

 Little and large.

Man Orchid - Orchis anthropophora

There was also a lovely swathe of Sanfoin

Sanfoin -  Onobrychis viciifolia 

We made two visits to Parkgate Down for Monkey Orchid on the first visit in mid May they were mainly in bud with just one or two flowers unfurling. On the second visit in late May they were spectacular!

Mid May and the first couple of monkeys are unfurling. Eleven days later the same plant looked like this...

Monkey Orchid - Orchis simia

Final orchid of the trip was Late Spider Orchid on the downs above Folkestone

Late Spider Orchid - Ophrys fuciflora 

It wasn't all orchids either. During the mid May trip we visited Sandwich Bay where I was hoping to see the rare Bedstraw Broomrape. The ground was parched and the plants looked to be very stunted. I was surprised to see that they were all different colours and it would be easy to think that they weren't all the same species if it wasn't for their distinctive smell. Because of this they are also known as Clove-scented Broomrape. They were very fragrant but I would say they smelt more like oriental lilies than cloves, they certainly didn't remind me of the dentists which smelling cloves usually does!

This pinkish-white is the most common colour but it also comes in...

Purple and...

Even the stigma lobes are yellow and not the usual  purple.

Bedstraw Broomrape - Orobanche caryophyllacea

While in the area a quick visit to West Malling was called for to see Malling Toadflax an introduced plant from southwest Europe which as been growing on the same wall since 1880.

Here seen growing with a nice specimen of the fern Wall Rue

Malling ToadflaxChaenorhinum origanifolium

Along a roadside verge just outside of Maidstone we stopped to look for White Ramping Fumitory which had been seen by Kent blogging botanist, Dave a week or so previously and he'd kindly given us the directions. The plants are of the rarer subspecies Fumaria capreolata ssp. capreolata in which a pink stripe develops as the flower ages. It is probably a casual at this site as there were quite a few non-natives on the same verge.

White Ramping FumitoryFumaria capreolata ssp. capreolata

We also spent quite a bit of time searching for rare 'arable weeds', always very rewarding to find in these days off intensive agriculture. The first one again thanks to Dave who found a veritable 'field full' of it near to his home in Longfield.

Dense-flowered Fumitory - Fumaria densiflora 

At Ranscombe Farm we found another rare Fumitory

Fine-leaved Fumitory - Fumaria parviflora

Another nice find here and totally unexpected was Crimson Clover -Trifolium incarnatum ssp. incarnatum, a former fodder crop and now an uncommon casual in the wild.
Crimson Clover - Trifolium incarnatum ssp. incarnatum
Finally on the edge of a pea field near Borstal we found Field Gromwell.

Field Gromwell - Lithospermum arvense


Gibster said...

Beautiful. I do so look forward to your all too infrequent postings. More this year, please :)

Conehead54 said...

Stunning images. Have seen the orchids but not knowingly the all the fumitories but they can be a tricky group.

Sylvatica said...

Glad to see you found most things, always pleased to help and thank you for the link. Even though I live locally I still haven't seen Fine-leaved Fumitory and Crimson Clover. That's what makes botany exciting; there's always another species to find and marvel at.

Ian Andrews said...

Stunning again; I love the orchids. It's been a while but worth the wait as usual.

Brian Hicks said...

Beautiful shots, lovely selection. Must look at plants more closely in future!

Karen Woolley said...

Thanks for the comments everyone.

Seth, I'm going to try and blog more frequently this year and hopefully not get another backlog. Stay tuned more of the 2017 backlog in next couple of weeks.

Gibster said...

Consider me tuned :)