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Sunday 29 April 2018

The Loder valley today.

The Loder valley, is a beautiful place at any time of year and especially now the bluebells are in full bloom.

 National Trust Charcoal burner,
 Great-crested Grebe.

Purple toothwort, Lathraea clandestina, West Sussex

 Either side of the public footpath at the exit gate from Wakehurst towards the Loder valley,  Purple toothwort, Lathraea clandestina is abundant now.  It is a parasite on tree roots and has no chlorophyll or green leaves spending its life underground, except now when it flowers.

If you want to see it, be quick.  These photo's at GR TQ332308

Thursday 26 April 2018

Green-winged Orchids, East Sussex, UK

My great thanks to Mick, the gardener, who was not mowing orchid patches in this graveyard and for sharing with me his knowledge of this wonderful place.

All is well with nature in this delightfully maintained churchyard.
Would you like your local society to host a talk on our beautiful native orchids?
Then please see for my talk on twenty six Native Orchids of Sussex, Surrey and Kent.

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Tuesday 24 April 2018

The evolution of a formal garden to a nature reserve.

Here are some pic's of my garden from yesterday.
 It is amazing that all these Cowslips originated from just one plant acquired from my mother's garden.  She got it from an RAF airfield.

Yellow Rattle lawn area
 A couple of summers ago, Yellow Rattle seeds were thrown on the lawn.  An annual, it is now seeding very successfully.  Hemiparasitic on grasses it restricts grass vigour to the benefit of other wild flowers and Common Carder bees love the Yellow Rattle flowers.

 Spanish bluebells (here before I moved in) are not killed off by mowing and hoeing so now I pull them up to avoid hybridising with our native ones.

A former lawn, now a Hazel copse.

Lady's-smock or Cuckooflower
 Last year Bittercress was weeded out of the flower beds.  Lady's-smock seedlings, Cardamine pratensis were left though and now they are flowering all over the place, which was the effect that I wanted to the benefit of butterflies and other insects.

Lady's-smock or Cuckooflower

 The white flowers above are Kale, "Spis bladene".  See also
Euphoria has come in from next door.  That's fine:Nomad bees enjoy it.

 Nomad bees constantly patrol areas of Ground-ivy, Glechoma hederacea, searching for bee nests to parasitise.  All bees seem to love this plant - a dead-nettle.
 The dustbin lid is there for grass snakes, which appear intermittently.
A wild garlic path

 Geum, grasses and ivy were weeded out and GarlicMustard, Alliaria petiolata seedling left for the effect that I hoped for.  Garden carpet moths' and Orange tip butterflies' larvae feed on it.

 Rosemary is treated as a shrub growing to head height, which makes it easier to photograph bees.

 A beech hedge was planted some years ago converting a lawn to a small woodland habitat.

 Above, the fruit cage has gone and the weedy, overgrown fruit is a mecca for bees.
Please see
for pic's of insects from last May.
 A really wild area.
The lawn is really damp in places, which allows Marsh thistles to grow, which are visited by bees.
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My experiences are now an illustrated talk.  Please see

Monday 23 April 2018

An "Early-purple Orchid walk" from Hurstpierpoint to Wolstonbury Hill in West Sussex, yesterday.

 At about six and a half miles, this is a lovely walk at any time of year and especially now as Early-purple Orchids are flowering.  Start at Trinity Road car park, grid reference (GR) TQ282165 and from the High Street walk into West Furlong Lane for some hundred meters or so to the second footpath off to the right.  At GR TQ281159 go over a stile and eventually at GR TQ283155 to have the view below.  A Roman road runs alone the tree line.
 At the tree line turn right along the edge of the field to Bedlam Street.
Bluebell wood

 At the end of Bedlam Street GR TQ279154, turn left and pass Randolph's farm

 After Randolph's farm there are great views of Wolstonbury Hill as you go along the bridal path to pass through Randolph's copse.
 Either side of the bridal way are Early-purple Orchids. TQ278147

 And Twayblades were also emerging.

 After Foxhole Cottages keep on the bridal way to Wolstonbury Hill.
It was a warm day and the cattle were sheltering from the heat amongst the trees.  On this day we walked along the base of the hill going east and joined the bridle path through the beech wood.

 Emerging from the woods are views of the Jack & Jill windmills.
 A crab apple flowering now.
 And although the blackthorn blossom was almost finished, a hoverfly was feeding on the flowers.

 We passed the dewpond with no signs yet of dragonfly or damselflies.
 Wellcombe Bottom had earlier been very well mown by the National Trust.  Thanks Graham: good job!
 Consequently the primroses and emerging Twayblades stood out without competing tall vegetation.
More Twayblades.
We returned past Coldharbour Farm and Ockenden's wood to New Way Lane and then the footpath through Danny park to Tott farm and back to Hurstpierpoint: a lovely walk.
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