Wednesday, 27 May 2009

On the verge.....

Kent has a network of roadside reserves, inconguously placed alongside the tarmac and fast cars of our modern world.
Chosen for a variety of reasons, these small reserves may conserve plants, reptiles or insects, and seem to be well maintained. One of the largest is on the cutting in the chalk on the old A2 at Lydden, where the scraping of soil off the rock has provided a niche for plants that need just a little soil and not much moisture. Mignonette is flowering now, and a few orchid spikes have emerged. A bank of strawberry fruits has also emerged - barren, I'd guess, judging by the lack of flavour.
Nearby, at West Langdon, is another reserve, protecting the verge that holds a good variety of downland plants - scabious, knapweed, horseshoe vetch, kidney vetch, bedstraw, milkweed, goats-beard and poppy are all represented, so it's a valuable resource in the prairielands. As the crops come close to it, it's likely that orchids will have been chemicalled, but it's worth keeping an eye on.
ScabiousGoats-beardThe inspiration for this pottering around the verges was a post by Tony St Margarets on a dozen spikes of man orchids that were found by the eagle eyes of Phil. He cycles, and so presumably sees more that the rest of us.
I was struck not only by the size of the spikes, but also by a large mat of pink milkweed, a plant that is more usually seen hanging on alone on sparse soils, not thriving profusely on an apparently rich roadside. Is the fact that the verge is on the site of an old fort earthwork relevant, I wonder?
In the wood nearby, a few more man orchids grow in the shade of a beech tree, sharing mutually-usefully fungi.
Still the painted ladies pour over and around us - an extraordinary invasion.


Mary said...

You always see so many interesting flowers. It is great to get to "go along" with you to see them.

JJ Beattie said...

Kingsdowner, I'm originally a Kent girl but I'm living in Thailand now. I've been lurking at your blog for a while. I found your blog by googling images of the Kent countryside for the novel I'm writing which is set where I grew up in the Weald of Kent.

Today, I've linked to your blog from mine because I'm passing on a blog award that I received for creative blogging. I've no idea if you're interested in receiving such a thing, but at least you'll know how much I enjoy your photographs.

DOT said...

I have landed her, lightly and without disturbing the soil, thanks to JJ.

I love your blog. I am not a naturalist but grew up with a brother who was/is. Your enthusiasm reminds me of his. (Sadly we are not really in contact any more). We were separated for some years when very young and when we re-met he had discovered his love for nature and was very knowledgeable much to my awe.

uphilldowndale said...

JJ pointed me in your direction, love the blog (especially the flowers) I'll be back for another peek ASAP