Blackthorn winter

Late March is cold and grey with fleeting sunshine; the woods are still winter dead and the promise of spring seems a distant dream. There always seems to be a cold snap when the blackthorn flowers and lights up the hedges. The early spring flowers appear foolhardy in the chill easterlies that keep the land…

Early spring in west Kent woodlands

The hornbeam woodlands on the North Downs are at their best; carpeted with a white blanket of wood anemones. A perfect example locally is on the rolling hills above Eynsford. The anemones are a near monoculture but the dark green bluebell leaves are emerging and the swathe of deep blue flowers will take over in…

Changing Hartnips Wood

In two weeks, the delicate, green and white, wood anemone carpet of early April has given way to a swathes of deep blue bluebells under a high shade of hornbeam. By mid-May the bluebells are fading; there is no further colourful succession, just the shade and silence of a summer woodland. Goldilocks buttercup, a tall but understated Ranunculus species,…

Chalkhurst and Hartnips Woods

Above the village of Eynsford across a wide fallow field freshly sprayed with herbicide, sits a long strip of broadleaved woodland.  Under a blue sky, a single swallow flies across the field calling. A slow worm rests under an old piece of matting and brimstones work the dandelions in the floristically dull field margin; a…