Sunday, 8 December 2019

Wildflowers of the Dover Patrol Memorial and from Deal, Kent - 14/09/19

The area about the Dover Patrol memorial belongs to the National Trust and comprises of some good quality chalk grassland.  The memorial itself is an obelisk and much historical informaiton about it can be found here:

https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1070067


Here's a  view of the memorial obelisk with a nice stand of Weld and Wild Teasel (Reseda luteola and Dipsacus fullonum) in the foreground.


Being the second week into September I wasn't sure what I might find as many species had gone to seed, as shown above, and it had been quite dry too. Some of the best plants to be found were in the closely mown lawn around the obelisk itself.


This flower is very small and easily missed in longer grasses. It can be identified easily in that its leaves are of unequal lengths, it is Squinancywort.



Asperula cynanchica


This is quite common on good quality chalk grassland, such as that found close to me along the Darent Valley in north Kent and the Medway Gap too.












I usually associate Harebells with either sandy soils like at Dartford Heath or  occasionally on chalk, so it was nice to find a few in flower around the obelisk. It's on the Kent RPR too.

Campanula rotundifolia


When not in flower, this next plant is hard to find - unless you sit down on chalk turf and then you realise it's everywhere. It's the Dwarf or Stemless Thistle which is very common on short chalk turf.

Cirsium acaule


Below is a Small Scabious in flower, easily told apart from Field Scabious by having black bristle hairs under the petals. You can see them between the petals too.

Scabiosa columbaria


There are some nice views here too.


Of course, the floral superstar of the obelisk flora is our last flowering wild orchid of the season, Autumn Lady's Tresses. These have finished in many other areas, but I think a recent mowing has caused them to flower again here as most were under 3" tall but were still full of flowers.
















Spiranthes spiralis








Wild Thyme was also in flower around the obelisk - another plant that is fine with even close mowing, as it grows so low to the ground.











Thymus praecox subsp. polytrichus










I was surprised to find Ivy Bees visiting the wildflowers here and ignoring plenty of Ivy nearby that still had flowers on them. 


Colletes hederae


My final floriferous find at the Dover Patrol was a few fine looking Goldenrod in full flower.
As usual, the coastal form was squat and bushy with a dense head of flowers up the stem.
Inland, they are invariably long and spindly with individual flowers up the stem.

Solidago virgaurea
 

From here we drove a short distance north along the Kent coast to Deal. At its northern end there is a footpath along the top of the beach that goes all the way to Sandwich. We parked up and followed this for a while.

This is a view from here looking north east to Ramsgate.

 







Sticky Groundsel is fairly common along our part of the coast but it's still nice to find some. Unlike its drab inland cousins, this plant has ray petals (like a Ragwort) but also lots of  glandular hairs. Rub them and it gives off a gone off lemon scent

Senecio viscosus










I was rather surprised to find a single bush of Bell Heather growing amid the shingle. I'd not ever seen it in such a habitat before, but a check on this area when I got home showed it had been recorded from the same spot many years previously. I wonder how it got here and why it hasn't spread?






Erica cineria 

Hedge Bedstraw and this Lady's Bedstraw were still flowering  here. A few miles north is found Bedstraw Broomrape which parasitises these species and is very rare. Perhaps it might be worth revisiting this area in May.

Galium verum


There were of course, many more wildflowers I could have featured, but I decided not to photograph any more as many had recently featured in my blogs in any case. Here's a view of the coastal path to end with, looking north.



 I hope you enjoyed the blog, take care.

Regards
Dave
@Barbus59




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