Folkestone Area, Kent - 20/06/20

 Having missed the Kent orchids in May due to lockdown restrictions, it was nice to get out and about in June to finally get to see some wild orchids (and other plants) up close. Folkestone is backed by the chalk hills of the North Downs which soon become the White Cliffs familiar to many. Here is a selection of the wildflowers I found this day. Early to mid June is the best time to see Common Spotted Orchids. Whilst still relatively common, I have already noticed them becoming scarcer in north Kent with two sites that held them gone within the last 5 years to house building which is ongoing on an industrial scale. Dactylorhiza fuchsii     In the same area as the Common Spotted Orchids I found Chalk Fragrant and the hybrid between the two. For the long-winded scientific name, see the writing on the photo! Here is a close up photo of one of the hybrids. This swarm produces several hybrids types, some closer to Chalk Fragrant, others more like Common spotted. This one below was more akin

Longfield - Kent 17/06/20

 Longfield in Kent is my home town and it is surrounded by fields to the north, mature woodlands to the south and a variety of chalk habitats inbetween. One of the better habitats in the area was formed by the renovation of the railway link line, formerly disused but brought back into service when the HS1 ran to Waterloo a few years back. Below is a selection of plants I photographed on this walk of about 2 hours. I hope you like them. I found a patch of these plants growing in the wild last year and they were a West Kent 1st (VC16) for definitly growing in the wild. It is Mediterranean Sea Holly and this year was in full flower with additional plants found. It's actually on railway land and was not planted. See Kent Botany page 29 Eryngium bourgatii   The first Lizard Orchid in this area for almost 100 years failed to survive the Spring drought of 2020. It put forth a flower spike then had weeks without any rain

Ranscombe Farm, Kent - 14/06/20

 Ranscombe is a very large reserve for rare plants and wildlife located near Cuxton managed by Plantlife. I highly recommend people to visit as it contains an amazing variety of both common and rare wildflowers. Don't be put off by the word "Farm" as it isn't just fields, there are several ancient woodland areas and even chalk grassland too. As such, wild orchids feature heavily and several species are found here. I added Bird's Nest Orchids to the list of those found here a few years back when I saw some on the edge of the Great Wood.  One of the commoner orchids found here is the Bee Orchid which is common especially on the northern edge of the reserve. But in 2019 a special variant was found which is an amazing variant that I haven't seen anywhere else. So I went to visit and have a look for myself. Here it is. It's not uncommon for a Bee Orchid to show variation, but what is rare is for a whole colony to show this variation and where they were found th