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.

A heathland walk down to Folly Bog

Being reasonable weather on Wednesday this week I ventured out on a longish heathland walk.

I walked down into Folly Bog from the track alongside Red Road. Actually, I pushed my way through the gorse and heather, and surprisingly found the ground firm underfoot. So, I had a good wander round. There’s nothing much to report, the Bog Asphodel has died down, and the sundews were nowhere to be seen, just grasses, sedge, mosses, and lichens.

As a challenge, I’ve often tried to cross the bog, and have never succeeded, even in dry summer. I’m sure it must’ve have been possible in the not to distant past, as there’s remnants of half-buried tarmac, not much, but some. There are also a few rusting steel plates, which you can see in my photo.

Ranger’s notes for autumn on Brentmoor Heath and Folly Bog

Two things to report from my walk in our local heathland this week.

The Surrey Wildlife Trust Ranger for Brentmoor Heath and Folly Bog has provided notes on autumn in the heathland, in which it states that Belted Galloway Cattle have returned to munch invasive plants.

Below are my photos of the Rangers’s notes, posted on the kissing gates into the heathland, and the cattle munching purple moor grass. [Click on photos to expand]

Scratched and bloodied in re-opening the path to Folly Bog

I say that I was bloodied in re-opening the path to Folly Bog. I massively overstate the amount of blood, it was a couple of small pricks from the gorse that drew blood.

A couple of days ago, here, I said secateurs were needed to regain access to Folly Bog. Yesterday I took secateurs and a pair of thick gloves to the task to re-opening the path. The gloves are worn out in a couple of fingers, hence pricks from the gorse drawing blood.

I’ll report of what I found down in Folly Bog in a later article. Meanwhile, here are the photos on before and after. Re-opening the path isn’t the answer to the meaning of life, I’m just happy to be able to visit the bog again.

Secateurs needed to regain access to Folly Bog

Getting down to Folly Bog from the track alongside Red Road is not everyone’s idea of fun. It is mine.

So, I’m frustrated that the spiky gorse, bracken and other vegetation seem to have closed off the path down to Folly Bog. I say path, it’s never been quite that, but a narrow gap between the plants

I like seeing the Early Marsh Orchid, Sundews, and bog plants up close.

Native wild orchids bloom in Folly Bog, and alongside the heathland track

Yesterday, I was happy to see the wild orchids in bloom in Folly Bog, and those at the edges of the track running alongside the fence line of the Bisley & Pirbright ranges.

The variability in the appearance of native orchids, through natural hybridisation, makes identification a bit of a nightmare. I think my identification is probably correct. At the track edge you’ll find the Heath Spotted Orchid. They have heavily mottled leaves. Their flower colour range is variable, from dark pink to white.

To see the other orchid variety – the Early Marsh Orchid – you’ll have to venture down from the track into Folly Bog. While it’s not too boggy at the moment, a few more days of heavy rain can make a big difference. Here are my photos: from left to right, orchids alongside the heathland track, the Heath Spotted, and the Early Marsh Orchid – click on images to expand.

Should you want to read about my travails, over the years, in identifying local native orchids, type the word orchid into the search box at the top right of the page.

Surrey Wildlife Trust ranger spring update for Brentmoor Heath and Folly Bog

The entrances to the heathland off Red Road, and into Brentmoor Heath display a Spring update notice from Ben Habgood, the Surrey Wildlife Trust ranger for Brentmoor Heath and Folly Bog. He can be contacted at

In Ben’s Spring update notice he mentions to be on the lookout for orchids, which he says can be seen from mid-May onwards. I walked on the track alongside Folly Bog yesterday and found no evidence of their arrival. But then I’m no botanist. I’ll make a trip down to Folly Bog and see I can spot signs of the Early Marsh Orchid.

I think nature is a bit late this year. Our large camellia has only recently ended its flowering. In the past it’s finished its flowering in January.  [Click on the image to expand].