Hilly Wood & Sissinghurst Castle 01/04/16

There's something rather special in a non descript small wood near Cranbrook, called Hilly Wood. For at least 70 years there has been a naturalised colony of Cyclamen Daffodils with their unique swept back sepals. With my own garden Daffs beginning to wither (after starting to flower in late December) I wondered if I had left a visit too late.
We eventually arrived and after a bit of a muddy walk down hill we came to the area where they grow. As we rounded a bend thousands of these peculiar Daffodils carpeted the woodland floor.

These originate from Western Spain and Portugal, where apparently they are now endagered in the wild.

Here's a photo showing the swept back petals.

Simply beautiful in such numbers.

Narcissus cyclaminius

In places the ground was carpeted with these lovely red catkins. I've not noticed them before, but they came off a tree over 20m tall.

I later looked them up and they are from a Hybrid Black Poplar tree. Native Black Poplar new twigs are hairy and the trunk is fissured and heavily bossed. This had almost hairless twigs but with a smooth fissured trunk.

Populus x canadensis

A small stream ran along the bottom edge of the wood with many interesting bog loving plants there, like this Opposite-Leaved Golden Saxifrage. It formed carpets of gold on quite dodgy welly gobbling ground underfoot.

Chrysosplenium oppositifolium

As we walked back up the hill passing the Cyclamen Daffodils again I noticed several native White Anemones growing with them, making a great Spring Flower photo.

Anemone nemorosa

And then this photo opportunity arose, below. The blue of the Bluebell and the bright yellow and green foliage making a lovely display.

Unfortunately, it looks like a hybrid Bluebell, which is a garden Spanish x native Bluebell cross.

Don't ever eat Bluebells, they are poisonous!
The glycosides found in Bluebells are thought to be similar to those in Digitalis (Foxglove), causing symptoms from shallow breathing to slowed heart rate and lethargy; so don't eat this plant or let your animal eat it.

Hyacinthoides hispanica x non-scripta.

 Naturalised in a hedgerow was a lovely Flowering Currant, a woody shrub that grows to about 8 feet tall.
It's native to California and was brought over many years ago, escaping into the wild since.

I didn't smell them but apparently the flowers smell revolting, so in California at least, they don't put them in vases!

Ribes sanguineum

After Hilly Wood, we had time for a couple of hours at National Trusts' Sissinghurst Castle, near Cranbrook.

There's a tall tower you can climb with amazing views, but most people come for the gardens and cultivated flowers.

So, true to form, I had people asking me if this was a rare plant growing in the walls of the old barn.
Unfortunately it's not rare, it's the humble and common Thale Cress.

Arabidopsis thaliana

Another plant that colonises old walls rapidly is the Ivy-Leaved Toadflax. This can flower all year round if mild (which it did this last Winter).

They are quite pretty but a naturalised introduction.

Cymbalaria muralis

There was one more wildflower growing in pea shingle meant for Spring bulbs, the humble Common dog Violet. These have a fat cream coloured spur which easily distinguishes them from other Violets flowering now.

Viola riviniana

And so on to the formal gardens which looked fantastic. Each type of flower has a name tag stuck in the soil, but I only tend to bother with Latin names for wildflowers.

These flowers were a hit with all sorts of Bees. No doubt this honey bee came from a hive on site, however, there were also Bumblebees in abundance.

Hoverflies didn't want to miss out. This is quite a large bee mimicking type. I saw many there and at Hilly Wood.

I'll look it up when I get time.

On the walls of the garden were these lovely Corydalis type plants.

Native Marsh Marigolds grew in the moat, though I expect they were planted rather than naturally colonising it.

Here's a macro shot of the Marsh Marigold flower.

Caltha palustris

Another odd looking Daffodil grew in the gardens. It was very pale with ultra thin sepals and not tall in height at all.

It made a nice change from the Daffodils seen on every road verge and garden though.

The last cultivar I photographed were these lovely Frittillaries, a very unusual but pretty Spring flower.

While we had a drink and a scone at the cafe, the semi tame birds came to see if any crumbs were dropped.


A Robin at my feet looking for crumbs!

Not forgetting the humble, but declining Sparrow.

That concluded my trip. Sissinghurst Castle is a great place to visit if gardens are your thing.

There's plenty of wild woodland and country walks nearby as well.

Spring is a great time to go for a woodland walk, so when the sun finally comes out get out there before these flowers are shadowed out by the trees coming into leaf.


Twitter @Barbus59
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  1. Lovely blog post to brighten my morning! Nice to have a look about Sissinghurst from my perch in Canada. :)

  2. Thank you, I'm impressed that being in Canada you like to read about English wildlife.


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