Painted lady

A butterfly lands on the gravel path in Farningham wood and folds its wings; it is unrecognisable. Neither a wall brown nor a grayling both of which nearly always fold up, just a perplexing something in between; the colours are subtle and beautiful and it turns out to be a painted lady doing what it…

Coppice and wood pasture

The coppice woodlands of west Kent are distinctive with their densely woven blanket of sweet chestnuts dotted with ‘mother’ oak trees. Birch and pine are also present and the autumn sunlight creates rich mosaics of greens, orange and yellows. Sweet chestnut coppice is managed on an approximate 15 year rotation and for the first few…

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…

Hunting Pinks

The wheat and oil seed rape has dried to a soft gold in a blink. The huge fields are somehow less mundane than when growing dull, deep green. The tangle of tall rape below Farningham Wood holds an abundance of house sparrows and linnets together with a smattering of corn burnings. The sparrows have finished breeding in the nearby…

Farningham Wood

Farningham Wood is famous for its pretty and rare Deptford pinks (Dianthus armeria) that adorn the southern edge of the large woodland. The Kent Rare Plant Register tells the story of the plant’s history and distribution in the county well. I have been to look for it twice and each time failed miserably in my quest. On the…