Sunday, 7 April 2019

Ightam Mote, Kent - 20/02/19

From November 2018 to the time of writing (April 2019) I have been unwell with a  heart condition. This has of course curtailed much of my botanising. However, I do have some good days and when they come I try to get out and about, though I have to restrict myself to easy and short walks.

This day was one of those good days and my partner and I visited Ightam Mote, a National Trust property near Tonbridge. There wasn't an awful lot to see at this time of the year, so unusually I will include a couple of planted species as well.

Here's some Hellebores planted in the garden, a common planted flower to give some colour at this time of the year.

Helleborus x hybridus
Lenten Rose

In past years I have actually found these escaped into the wild, so it's worth getting to know some garden plants for one's recording trips.

Another common garden escape are Snowdrops. There are lots of varieties, but most escapees (in my area) tend to be this one.

Galanthus nivalis

Ightam Mote has a stream running through it that feeds the small lake. Along this stream were copious amounts of Opposite Leaved Golden Saxifrage, an early flowering native plant.

Chrysosplenium oppositifolium

Other native plants flowering were Barren Strawberries.

Potentilla sterilis

Primrose was flowering. Of course, by now (April) they are old hat and everywhere, but back in February they were still great to see and a sign that winter was losing its grip on the countryside.

Primula vulgaris

Lesser Periwinkle was naturalised along the approach road.

Vinca minor

Note the leaves have no hairy margins (see below) and the flowers are much smaller and delicate than Vinca major. It tends to become patch forming, with patches sometimes hundreds of yards long.

It's now April and Hairy Bittercress is everywhere. However, back in February there were hardly any to be found. However, its close relative the Wavy Bittercress was out in good numbers. It differs from Hairy by being Wavy of course! That's not too reliable to ascertain ID but the 6 stamens are, (eye glass required and Hairy only has 4); the seed pods don't overtop the flowers (Hairy does) and you mainly find them in damp habitats whereas Hairy prefers drier places.

Cardamine flexuosa

 Just because it's winter does not mean you can't find new records. A plant does not have to be in flower to be able to be identified. When you do stop and look at a plant when it's in flower, take the time to look at its leaves in detail and try to memorise them and match it in your head to the flower. You will find that after a while (constant repetition) that you can easily identify lots of species throughout the winter.

Here's Water Figwort
Scrophularia auriculata

You can find this in almost any lawn, the humble Daisy.
Bellis perennis

Mexican Fleabane on the walls of the moat.

Erigeron karvinskianus

There are lots more species you can identify without flowers, go and give it a try.

I photographed these as #wildflowerhour on Twitter was running a challenge to find winter rosettes. It's worth contributing/viewing #wildflowerhour as you can see what's in flower around the UK and Ireland and also learn about plants you may be yet to see. Each week is a different challenge to keep the interest going. Have a look.

We finished up in the cafe and I was pleasantly surprised to see some of my photos on display on a digital screen showing visitors what they might find there. I am happy to donate photos to charities to use free of charge.

Take care

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