17th March 2019
Sunday morning dawned with a hint in the air that it was not
going to be like Saturday in any form whatsoever and thus a scoot around the
M25 to RHS Wisley was on the cards.
That dreaded Road to Hell did its best to thwart the attempt
but the alternative A25 through Westerham and such like did add some nicer
scenery and the hoped for Red kite and Buzzards.
Arriving just before ten meant that we were ahead of the
masses and a pleasant couple of hours were spent amongst the spring blooms. Camelias
and Magnolias were in full bloom in various shapes and forms with the heavy
rich scent of the latter discernible in the air.
Helleborines were scattered in carpets of green, burgundy and
white with some great looking doubles amongst them while Snowflakes, Grape
Hyacinths, Daffodils and Narcissus in all shapes and sizes, Wood Anemones, Epimediums,
Winter Aconites and Snakes Head Fritillaries were dotted in naturalised clumps
beneath the trees and in the borders.
|Not sure but suspect Squill or Bluebell related|
|Snakes Head Fritillary|
|Leucojum aestivum - Snowflake|
|Leucojum aestivum - Snowflake|
The huge rockery was just starting to come to life with tiny
Primulas with equally tiny leaves, Saxifrages, Pasque Flowers, saffron yellow
Wild Tulips and mini trumpet Daffs.
|Primroses and friends|
|Wild Tulips - I think|
|Pasque Flower - Pulsatilla vulgaris - grandis|
The glasshouse at the top of the climb had some great spring
specimen plants including exquisite Bumblebee Orchids, some funky Arums,
vibrant Ipheions and different dwarf Narcissus and non-blue Muscari. It was trying to rain at the time and the
greenhouse was a suitable refuge before the blue reappeared.
|Bumblebee Orchid - Ophrys bombyliflora|
|Iris - Skyline|
|Ipheion - Rolf Fiedler|
|Ipheion - Alberto Castillo|
|Narcissus calcicola |
The hot house was superb and I was in Orchid heaven and my
general ineptitude and getting my collection that live on the windowsill at
work was brought home and I could easily see how with the right setting and
glasshouse you could become seriously obsessive about collecting these
There was colour everywhere with spikes of livid red, orange
and yellow from various bromeliads, cascading climber and orchid blooms,
heavily scented Dendrobium orchids
and variegated leaves in a plethora of shapes, sizes and patterns.
Even some of
the Cloud Forest plants were flowering.
The Cacti and succulents were doing their best to look
stubborn, tenacious and seriously aggressive but create some superb spiky
patterns when you get close up. I used
to have a Pachypodium when I was a
kid (a very thorny column with leaves on top) so to see huge ones reaching for
the sky was great too.
The walk back through the gardens revealed a great display
of different colour Cornus stems
interspersed with the white of ornamental Brambles while the scent of the
flowering Edgeworthia chrysantha
(Oriental Paperbush after Googling) was attracting a few hardy Buff-tailed
Bumblebees and a solitary Eristalis
pertinax hoverfly that ended up perched nicely on a Daff. Nuthatches were calling all around and
Treecreeper and Goldcrest were heard but the chill breeze was keeping things
|Edgeworthia chrysantha - Oriental Paperbush|
I always leave a ‘garden’ with grand ideas and ambitions...
time to put one or two into practice I think.
A quick stop to pick up a M&S lunch and then onto
Thursley Common for a quick circuit.
Somehow there was room in the car park and after a quick bite to eat I
headed out. It was still a tad windy and the cloud was starting to billow up
again but the heath and bog were looking magnificent with plenty of water
moving about and it will not be too long before the dragons and damsels will be
back on the prowl.
I found a singing male Stonechat and his partner and heard a
brief Dartford Warbler while a male Woodlark sung his beautifully melancholic song
high it the sky, occasionally being highlighted by the skudding white
cloud. For me it has always been a ‘close
your eyes and take it in’ song and it fills me with a great joy despite its sad
|There must have been enough warmth in the air to stir the coconut scent - it was heavenly|
I looked for brave but chilly snakes to no avail but did
find a bold little Lizard that was too cold to even react as I hunkered down
with my phone for a shot or two.
However it was the Red Kites that made my day with four
patrolling the area. Two immatures kept drifting back towards where I was
standing on the bridleway and gave me the once over. I threw my hat in the air
a couple of times and they came straight back to me and circled a little low
giving me wonderful views that did not result in my losing my beloved Fair Isle
I remember way, way back in the dark distant depths of the
1980s hearing about an Epping RSPB coach trip to Thursley where they were
incredibly luck to see a migrant Kite passing through. I may be wrong but I seem to remember a
little vignette by Ian Lycett in his wonderful illustrated notebook. Must ask him...
|Look at how the sky changed between images!|
And yet now they are so well established and still spreading
into new areas. A true conservation success story.
With the weather on the turn it was time to wend our way east
back through the Weald countryside towards Horsham before heading up the M23
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