Farningham Wood revisited

Farningham Wood is renowned, botanically speaking, for its colony of Deptford pinks Dianthus armeria that hide amongst the wood sage Teucrium scorodonia on one short edge of the great woodland. But this is no wilderness; the M25 is just to the west, the M20 and the old village of Farningham to the south, and plastic acres of polytunnels filled with raspberry canes to the north with a distant view of the Dartford Crossing beyond. So, ignoring the traffic noise and the feeling that you are admiring a badly frayed masterpiece, this is a large and lovely ancient woodland on acidic soils that cap the chalk hilltop, decked with great English oak Quercus robur standards and sweet chestnut Catanea sativa and hazel Corylus avellana coppice.

Three years ago, lily of the valley Convallaria majalis was out in a corner of the wood and it remains in rude health today with various loose clumps in semi-shade under the tall hornbeam and beech; these are a long cricket ball’s throw from a small stand of Solomon’s seal Polygonatum multiflorum, a beautiful member of the asparagus family. Both are surprisingly easy to overlook and finding them in other parts of the wood has so far been fruitless. There are plentiful stands of woodruff Galium odoratum; another woodland species with dark green foliage and white flowers.

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