Around Longfield, Kent - 05 to 08/04/16

Th disadvantage of a job is that the time available for my hobby is now limited. The advantage is that when time is limited I make the most of what is around me locally. I live in the North Kent urban fringe only a few miles from Greater London but within yards of beautiful countryside and chalk downland.
My first stop was the local Churchdown Woods near Fawkham. I've extensively surveyed the OS map grid square this is in and added over 30 unrecorded plant species last year to the records.
The North West part of the woods come alive with Spring flowers now and they were already in bloom.

 Carpets of Wood Anemones were out, dancing in the light breeze and reflecting beautifully in the dappled sunlight  beneath the trees.

Anemone nemorosa

As quickly as they appear, they will go. Once the leaves start to open on the trees, cutting off the light, they will all seed very quickly.

Parts of the wood were also carpeted in a mix of native and hybrid Bluebells, the scent of the natives wafting like pleasant perfume through the air.

Hyacinthoides non-scripta

There's still plenty more to open as well, so it should be a fine bluebell display in North Kent this Spring.

Most years there are about 100 or so Early Purple Orchids that flower here amongst the bluebells.
They're a bit behind them this year but this one is about to open its buds.

There was a report of a single Birds Nest Orchid here a few years ago but it seems to have vanished, I'll keep my eyes peeled though, it might come up again!

Orchis mascula

The yellow of the Lesser Celandines mixed with the light blue of the Bluebells looked very nice

Ficaria verna

That was it for Churchdown Woods.

A quick visit to New Ash Green provided me with a chance to walk around the car park of the shopping area. There were Bluebells here as well along with these tiny gems, Moschatel or Town Hall Clock.
These have flowers on 5 sides of a cubed like flower and are the only member of the Adoxa family growing wild in the UK.

Adoxa moschatellina

Cow Parsley was coming into flower along the verges, in a few weeks great swathes of white flowers will line rural road verges.

Anthriscus sylvestris

I also spotted, Common Dog, Early Dog and Sweet Violets and Ivy-leaved Speedwell flowering here.

A couple of days later we were out for a drive and popped into Kent Wildlife Trust's Sevenoaks reserve for a walk.

It's a good place for wildfowl and fungi but there wasn't much botanically to see just yet.

Here's a flowering Common Storksbill, a tiny flower growing in the shallow soil of the path.

Erodium cicutarium

The bright blue flowers of Green Alkanet also grew along the path. These aren't native but have escaped and naturalised into the wild over the years.

They can spread rapidly, but competing with nettles and brambles meant this colony hasn't spread too far.

Pentaglottis sempervirens

I spotted some Alder in flower with both male catkins and female cones on the same branch.

On the way back from there we stopped near Shoreham in the Darent Valley for a look around. On a railway bridge I found several mosses like this one. Very tiny and cute!

Bryum capillare (right)

Close by was a cushion type moss. Looking through the macro lens I found some with fruiting bodies, each only about 1mm wide! From a distance the white hairs made it look like a hairy cushion on the masonry.

Grimmia pulvinata (below)

At the base of the railway bridge some naturalised Common Comfrey was growing and flowering. Always check the upper stem leaves with Comfreys to see how far (if at all) the leaf runs fluted down the stem. It helps identify them! This one runs all the way down the stem to the next leaf. If it didn't it could be the native Tuberous Comfrey

Symphytum officinale

On some fly tipped soil were these mega Bluebells, which are in fact hybrids. Unlike most of the woodland hybrids, these are 95% Spanish Bluebell, with just the slight reflexing of the petals hinting at some native genes. Unlike natives, their flowers are saucer shaped, hardly rolled back with thick stems and wide leaves.

Hyacinthoides x massartiana

 The final plant of note on this short trip was the lovely but small, Sweet Violet. These have leafless stems, rounded sepals and sometimes scent. This distinguishes them from the other wild Spring violets in flower now.

Viola odorata

 So, even if you have limited time like me, there's still plenty to see.



  1. We have a newly planted urban woodland nearby. The only flowers there at the moment are Butterbur, but there is a lot of bare, disturbed soil. I shall be monitoring the new woodland to see which flowers colonise the area and how it changes at it matures. Thanks for your interesting blog.

  2. Hi Gillian,
    Butterbur is a fantastic plant, uncommon in my part of drier Kent. Look forward to seeing photos of your colonists in due course on Twitter.


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