Orchids & Flowers
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Even here in the Low Weald, Marden can hold its own with its orchid species. To witness Marden Meadow on a fine May morning, a sea of purple green winged orchids dotted with yellow buttercups, is a wonderful experience. The orchid, nicknamed the Harlequin, also comes in shades of pink and white.
Coming into flower with the bluebells, the Early Purple orchid is a plant of woodland. Its leaves are generally spotted with purple, it is the first orchid of the season – a promise of things to come.
Spotted orchids are paler-flowered, heavily spotted plants, widespread in the wilder areas of Marden. In addition, recent recordings of common twayblades, pyramidal and southern marsh orchids have been a welcome addition. These first two species are more associated with chalk meadows, so it’s a nice surprise to find them establishing in Marden. Orchids are very particular about the places they choose to grow and rely heavily on a good population of fungal mycorrhiza to thrive.
As well as differing species of buttercup and speedwell, there are many members of the vetch family, including the vetchlings, thriving in meadows, from the tiny pops of cerise of the grass vetchling, to the eggs and bacon of bird’s foot trefoil, the tiny flowers of the tares, and rich purple vetch. All of these intermingle in a carpet of selfheal and trefoils. Ox-eyed daisies spring out from this mosaic in spring. This richness is seasoned with the flowers of the grasses and sedges. Adder’s tongue fern, a tiny meadow inhabitant, grows only a few inches tall, and is hard to spot. It pushes up its single shield-shaped green frond in spring and pokes its tongue – a spore-bearing spike- out. These are very ancient plants, and while we humans have a mere 46 chromosomes, adder’s tongue fern has 1260.
After the early summer richness, come the high summer flowers: bright yellow agrimony, sugar pink centaury, knapweeds and autumn hawkbit. The fortunate few can find wild strawberries growing amongst the flowers. Ragwort is grazed relentlessly by caterpillars of cinnabar moths.
Marden’s waterlogged areas that are prone to flooding have just as varied a palette of plants as the meadows. Marsh bedstraw produces clouds of tiny white stars, while water forget-me-not grows thick luxuriant leaves with bright blue flowers. Hairy buttercup grows in damp soil, but the wettest conditions are where its near relations the celery-leafed buttercup and lesser spearwort are found. The closely related marsh marigold, or kingcup, enjoys wet feet too. Both our native white and yellow water lilies are a beautiful sight in ponds in summer. Yellow and purple loosestrife are later flowering plants that are important for insects. Walking in damp ground releases the pungent scent of water mint.
Some of our most interesting sedges prefer wet conditions: the Cyperus sedge has dangling flowers and can grow a metre tall. The elongated sedge, a rare find in Kent, prefers growing curled along willow trunks. And the rarest of them all, true fox sedge, loves ground that is underwater in winter, but drying in early spring. It is a plant that is easily lost by changes to its habitat. It is one of three plant indicator species for Kent under the Kent Biodiversity Strategy. These indicators, selected by the Kent Botanical Recording Group, are all ‘iconic for the county and deserve fuller understanding of their current status and needs.’
Generally, these are viewed as weeds. While most people see a field of poppies as a visual feast, to the farmer trying to grow a crop, they are embarrassing evidence of a breakdown in weed control. However, there are many flowers that steal into arable crops and orchards. They are tough survivors and will grab a chance of life if they can. There are millions of seeds waiting in the soil for the slightest slipup in agriculture, or perhaps a fallow period between crops. Many are mat-like plants that can tolerate growing on farm tracks and getting run over with tractors from time to time. Flowers such as mayweeds – some have a pleasing chamomile-like scent when bruised. Some, like stinking mayweed, have the reverse – a noxious, chemically smell which lingers. Scarlet pimpernel is always a cheerful sight on a sunny day, with its light red stars. More rarely, the lovely yellow-eyed white field pansy can occur in the base of an arable crop.
A significant cornfield weed for Marden is the fumitory, with its pink bottle-brush flowers. It is among the plants most attractive to turtle doves, so on that basis alone should be granted some limited space by all of us.
Countryside stewardship schemes on farms are meaning that more areas of land are left as buffers to the crop, allowing these tough chancers more of a chance of survival.
Fauna and Flora
We have generically grouped all our Fauna and Flora and know that these groupings aren't always perfectly correct, but this has been done to make it simple to get an idea of the variety of species we have in our parish. We do not expect this website to be used as an encyclopaedia.
Our unique environment allows a great variety of species
Reptiles & Amphibians & Mammals
You'll be surprise what's we have in the area
Great variety of moths, butterflies, dragonflies and more
Without these Trees and Plants would not survive
Orchids & Flowers
Such a diverse amount of flowers in different environments
Trees and what comes with them
Trees create homes for many different elements of wildlife