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Some recent plant sightings, April 2017

Over the Winter months, the Observatory’s volunteer conservation teams have been clearing back invading scrub, brambles, reeds and other coarse plants around the Estate which, if not controlled, would soon swamp the more interesting, lower-growing flora. This has had the effect of opening up the ground layer to the light and has encouraged the emergence of plants such as Adder’s Tongue Fern in the White House and Tufted Sedge in the Big Gully, where it is growing alongside Greater Pond Sedge. The fern has long been known from the Sandwich Bay area but is only recorded irregularly, while the Tufted Sedge is a real rarity. It is only known in Kent from the Lydden Valley and Worth Marshes area and the Big Gully colony may well be a new site.

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Other plants to look out for at the moment include the large amounts of Green Alkanet in the Elms, with its striking blue flowers, and, just past the Elms on the way to the Gullies, you can find the basal rosettes of Cotton Thistle. If left alone, these will produce flowering stems of up to 2 metres by the Summer. The familiar Red Dead-nettle and White Dead-nettle occur throughout the area on disturbed ground and are a big attraction for insects such as bumble-bees. Silverweed is an abundant plant of damper parts of the grassland areas, while the imposing Alexanders lines all of the Estate roads at this time of the year. The season’s first Green-winged Orchids were in flower on the golf course near the shore on the 21st.