Not many orchids in the heathland and the bog

Living close to the heathland and Folly Bog means I regularly investigate the flora. At the end of April, during a dry spell, I looked for evidence of orchids, and found the leaves emerging of just one. It was only yesterday that I got a chance to visit the heathland tracks and Folly Bog again for evidence of orchids.

Some success, I found a few early marsh orchids in Folly Bog, while also just a few heath spotted orchids alongside the edge of the heathland track. The flowering season for these wild orchids begins in May, and is best in June , July and August. Therefore I’d expected to see orchids, perhaps not in full bloom, but certainly showing signs of growth. I didn’t see many signs of orchids. I wonder if the cold weather earlier in the year has delayed their appearance.

I’ll just have to return to the bog and track side to check on their arrival – hopefully abundant as in previous years. In 2016 and 2017 they were plenty of orchids in bloom at the end of May. To learn of my travails in identifying orchids, type orchids into the search box. There’s plenty to read.

Thought you might like to see what I found. Later, I’ll draw a map of the area to show the best places to see the different flora.

Bagshot’s Earlswood Park spectacular rhododendron display

Earlswood Park adjacent to the Waitrose store in Bagshot is a SANG [Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace], created to offset the development of Waitrose, associated shops and car park.

The stands of rhododendrons, being originally planted as part of Notcutts nursery, were retained when SANG was created. The plants have continues to flourish and grow, many now approaching 4 metres in height. They’ve pretty much all come into flower at the same time, and provide a delightful backdrop to the park.

I investigated the park on sunny day earlier this week, and took a close look at the rhododendrons. It’s no underestimate to say it’s a spectacular group of plants. Planted in nursery style, means there’s a path between the plants providing a splendid opportunity to view them up close. Click on the photos to expand.

The Great Bagshot River of antiquity

While researching online about Bagshot Sand, I came across mention of the Great Bagshot River.

I simply had to find out more. The first mention of the river was in the University of London’s [UCL] paper Sand on the Heath. The paper contains a map of the river, which was imagined to exist in the Eocene era, some 33 to 56 million years ago. It said of the river,

Putting these observations together builds up a picture of The Great Bagshot River flowing from SW England, across the Salisbury Plain, to deposit thick river sands in the London Basin. The lines of pebbles record periods of flood when the river had more potential to carry larger particles.

Below: This is the path that the Great Bagshot River probably followed about 50 million years ago. The river would have been a similar length to the Niger, Indus, or Ganges Rivers today.

The Great Bagshot River drained the ice sheets, which covered Britain, bringing the sand and pebbles that form the Bagshot Beds of today. The Great Bagshot River is also mentioned in an article on local Geology in the Woking History website, which usefully also includes a map of local geological structures [see below].  This article describes the formation of the Bagshot Beds, which are also described in Wikipedia’s Bagshot Formation, though a bit complicated to my reading.

West Green House Garden definitely worth visiting

West Green House Garden is sumptuous. On our visit on Sunday last we were lucky to catch the last of their tulips.

We learned that they plant fresh tulip bulbs each year, which must be quite a task. I knew that tulips should be replaced each year, especially as I’ve only recently dug up tulips that no longer flower. We’ve some garden pots that will benefit from having tulips, just got to remember to buy the bulbs in time for planting in October.

Being a National Trust property, West Green House Garden has a restaurant, and plenty of outdoor seating. It’s got to be worth a visit. It’s only just outside Hartley Witney, so not too far away.

Here’s my photo montage of the garden. The big blowsy red flowers are of Amaryllis Royal Velvet, which was in one of the greenhouses.

The simple joys of tending Housekeeks

The soil in our part of Lightwater is known as Bagshot Sand. It’s ideal for heather, broom and gorse, and for plants that thrive poor quality soil.

A while ago I noticed that houseleeks – Sempervivums in their botanical name – do well in our poor soil. Their name means always (semper) living (vivum). They’re reliable plants, able to survive the vagaries of our climate.

Therefore, a year ago or more I decided to plant Sempervivums in the window boxes at the front of our house. I like it that the window boxes are at eye level, meaning I can easily inspect the plants and care for them.

To report, they’ve established themselves well, and are pretty to look at. I’ve recently given the window boxes a bit of maintenance. The Sedum that I planted with them rather took over and crowded out one of the Sempervivums, requiring me to replace it. Below are photos of the two window boxes, and one of them after my bit of window box gardening.

Before you see my photos, you might like to know more about these easy to grow plants.


Houseleeks belong to the genus sempervivums; there are about 40 or so species and 3,000 named cultivars. We’ve been lusting after these funny little succulents since antiquity. Their name means always (semper) living (vivum) because of their remarkable ability to grow in barren places. Their common name comes from an old practice of growing them between roof tiles to keep the tiles in place and ward off thunder (they do only the former)

Feeling good about myself

While not sitting in front of a keyboard for the past few weeks allowed my to do something that I’d promised myself to do for ages, and ages.

I cleaned and reorganised our garden shed. It might not seem much to you. It has, though, given me inordinate amount of pleasure, inasmuch that it’s removed a small piece of nagging guilt in having a messy shed.

All such tasks always take longer than you think. The disposing of unwanted stuff and such is now a significant task. One form of guilt replaces another, in that it’s implored on us to recycle and not discard stuff wantonly. It’s not helped that when I visit the Camberley Recycling Centre I find it closed on a Tuesday. The opening hours of Surrey Heath recycling centres makes it hard to dispose of stuff.

Ah, well. I am content, and that’s a good thing.

It’s all very confusing to me

I’ve long held to the belief in this proverb, “Ne’re cast a clout till May is out”. This warm weather is putting what I wear to the test.

I’ve always understood this to mean the end of the month of May. A comment in a BBC Wales article looks at the proverb’s meaning, suggesting a mixed meaning of the proverb thus,

Copyright Barbara Carr – CC Licence

“Some people think ‘May’ refers to the month but others take it to mean the May flower or hawthorn. The tree flowers in late April or early May. In other words, the old saying means don’t take your warm clothes off until the May blossom is out because cold weather can return during the spring months which is what is happening at the moment.”

My concession in this warm weather is a short sleeved shirt, not discarding my tee shirt, or trousers for shorts.