New Year Plant Hunt 01/01/17 - Swanscombe, Kent.

It's been a drab, cold time of the year, no surprise really, being Winter! However, the end of 2015 was exceptionally mild and wherever I went I always found some wildflowers. Not so a year later. Parts of December 2016 were very cold and in North Kent we had several hard frosts down to -5 Celsius. Worse (for wildflowers) was that these temperatures coincided with thick freezing fog, meaning that layers of ice crystals decimated the less hardy flowers still out. Anyway, back to the first day of 2017. The Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI) now organise a wildflower "hunt" from 1st to 4th January each year. Data is put into a database and observations can be drawn from the results. For full details go to: It really is quite fun to do and gives me a purpose to go general recording at a time of the year when it's all too easy to sit in front of the TV watching the same old films and shows. The main difference to

Autumn Arable Wildflowers, Longfield, Kent. 20/09/2016

There is a large arable field just North of Longfield that has been left fallow for well over a year. I thought it might have some interesting arable plants now so I had a quick visit to see what I could find. Apart from being a nice open space, it doesn't look much does it. However, when the farmer leaves it a while before spraying, the seed bank in the soil comes to life. Longfield can be seen to the left of the photo. Scarlet Pimpernels are almost guaranteed to be present and can be found in a variety of habitats from pavement cracks to shingle areas. However, arable field edges are their stronghold. Always keep a look out for subspecies, such as the rare Blue Pimpernel or a rose coloured variant. Anagallis arvensis subsp arvensis There were at least a thousand of these Small Toadflax plants scattered throughout the field, with their snap draon type small flowers being distinctive. The flowers are mostly white, but look closer and you'll see pink

RIverside Country Park Gillingham, Kent - 11/09/16

This blog is about a month out of date but I've finally got around to writing it! I walked this country park on the banks of the tidal Medway recording plants as I went. The OS square to the West of the car park was under recorded, so that gave the trip a more defined purpose. There's a reasonable amount of salt marsh to explore when the tide is low as it was today, and scrubby areas inland. The most obvious flowering plant on the salt marsh edges was Sea Aster. They are like a saltwater tolerant version of the Michelmas Daisies. There are two forms, one with lilac rays and the other with the rays absent. I only found the rayed form here today. Aster tripolium var. tripolium Glassworts were common too. I keep missing the Kent Botanical Recording Society field trips that concentrate on this species. If I could have attended I would be able to identify each type. Believe it not, this one was in flower! On the lower branch are two tiny yellow