Tuesday, August 2, 2011


This last week I've been pleasantly distracted by my 5-year-old niece in Kent, so little time for blogging (and jolly hard to take photos with an excitable small someone tapping your arm all the time).

I managed a few botanical trips though. I ventured to Aycliffe, Dover in search of the delectable assemblage of plants on Shakespeare Cliff. I'd not been to this site before so was grateful for local expert knowledge (here
). I parked in South Military Road (at GR TR 30790 40059) and walked under the underpass to access the beach.

Looking across the A20 to Aycliffe, Dover.

One of the things I love about botany is that wherever I am - a building site, Tesco's carpark, sitting in a queue on the M25 (Did you know that narrow-leaved ragwort grows on the central reservation just before the Dartford Crossing?) - there is always potentially something interesting to see. Usually a plant demanding to be noticed, recorded and photographed (as Phil Gates might put it).

It took me a while to get to the beach and cliffs as I was waylaid by plants down the footpath along the A20. I picked up some litter and side-stepped the dog poop.

The lovely pale blue of, I believe, meadow cranesbill (Geranium pratense).

The cerise blooms of broad-leaved everlasting pea (Lathyrus latifolius), England's own bougainvillea, gushed exotically and extravagantly across the path.
The seeds of Alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum) were everywhere. The path was crunchy with them (I thought they were rabbit droppings at first). The flower heads must have put on quite a show earlier in the year. It used to be used as a pot-herb, but I've never tried it, and I believe the seeds are used as a pepper substitute. I collected some so may crunch those up later.
A dark bush cricket hopped off before I could get a better shot.
Wild cabbage (Brassica oleraceaseed pods brushed my legs as I walked.
...its rubbery grey-blue leaves adding a Waitrose-veggie-counter ambience to the verge. 
Greater knapweed (Centaurea scabiosa) was spilling its seeds and they were blowing suicidally onto the A20.
In the middle of the A20 rock sea lavender (Limonium binervosumblooms by the wheels of continental lorries hurrying away from the port. I love plants, they are just amazing. I noticed a purple flash as I was driving to Samphire Hoe with my niece the other day but couldn't see where to stop and get a look at what it was. Now I know. 
Signs of autumn were everywhere with blackberries, dewberries, and wayfaring trees (Viburnum lantana) heavy with red and black berries. Lots of food for the birds.
And one unknown spurge, which I didn't stop to try and identify. 
Yikes, not got to cliffs yet. Best leave that for next blog.


  1. I was on Langdon cliff yesterday and knocked out by the wild marjoram, scabious and masses of others I cannot name. Then went to Capel to photograph and draw the Alexander seedheads, blackk among the golden grasses with the blue sea behind. Glorious. Your photos are great!

  2. Hi Wendy. That sounds a wonderful day out :-) Thanks for compliment. Flowers are stunning on the cliffs. Have you been to Lydden Down? Amazing there too. Mel