Leader Andrew Stevens

Eight members plus the hosts, Sheila and Roy, and one of their neighbours met on a sunny afternoon for a very enjoyable walk round the farm.

The group first recorded species in the lane, which totalled 44 and included ferns, sedges such as Glaucous Sedge (Carex flacca), Remote Sedge (Carex remota) and Wood Sedge (Carex sylvatica) with Wood Sage (Teucrium scorodonia), Pignut (Conopodium majus), Betony (Stachys officinalis) and Black Bryony (Tamus communis).

Proceeding to a shady, wooded stream crossing, under Holly (Ilex aquifolium) and Ash (Fraxinus excelsior), Opposite‐leaved Golden‐saxifrage (Chrysosplenium oppositifolium) was noted, with several ferns including Lady‐fern (Athyrium filix‐femina), Scaly Male‐fern (Dryopteris affinis subsp. affinis), Hart's‐tongue (Phyllitis scolopendrium) and Soft Shield‐fern (Polystichum setiferum).

The group entered a woodland some of which had been planted by the owners over the past few years using both self‐sown native species and bought in saplings – hence the presence of poplar, dogwood and Osier. The woodland included open areas of rank grass and tall herb with wet areas. Frequent tree species recorded were Hazel (Corylus avellana), Ash, Holly, Goat Willow (Salix caprea) and Pedunculate Oak (Quercus robur). Other plants included Enchanter's‐ nightshade (Circaea lutetiana), Ragged‐Robin (Lychnis flos‐cuculi), Abraham‐Isaac‐Jacob (Trachystemon orientalis), Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea), Broad Buckler‐fern (Dryopteris dilatata) and Osier (Salix viminalis). Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes), Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) and Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) were are heard singing.

On entering the hay meadow, with tall‐herb patches and occasional colonising bushes and bramble, the party was pleased to find Whorled Caraway (Carum verticillatum), although only a small patch of leaves. Common Spotted‐orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii) was seen and other species included Common Hemp‐nettle (Galeopsis tetrahit), Common Marsh‐bedstraw (Galium palustre) and Compact Rush (Juncus conglomeratus), with locally abundant Yorkshire‐fog (Holcus lanatus). A Blood‐vein moth (Timandra comai) was also recorded.

The wet field margin with invading bramble had Common Spotted‐orchid, Wild Angelica (Angelica sylvestris), Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria), Hemlock Water‐dropwort (Oenanthe crocata) and Marsh Thistle (Cirsium palustre). A Common Blue butterfly (Polyommatus icarus) and a Common Blue damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) were seen.

Back by the farmhouse, a cultivated Mullein plant in the top garden was doubly interesting as it supported Mullein Moth (Shargacucullia verbasci) caterpillars which, it was noted, were also on an adjacent Figwort (Scrophularia nodosa) plant. Several plants of the deep red Common Ramping‐fumitory (Fumaria mualis) were growing in the garden which was planted with interesting vegetables and herbs but also had a very colourful informal border of lupins, poppies, etc. The plants recorded were an interesting mixture of planted, self‐seeded and native species, many supporting insects, which in turn provide food for birds, and included Pink Purslane (Claytonia sibirica), Red Clover (Trifolium pratense), Phacelia tanacetifolia, Meadow‐foam (Limnanthes douglasii), Wall Speedwell (Veronica arvensis) and Common Field‐speedwell (Veronica persica). A Whitethroat (Sylvia communis) was heard and a Common Lizard (Lacerta vivipara) seen.

From the garden, the party walked along a track where Bugle (Ajuga reptans), Field Horsetail (Equisetum arvense), Yellow Pimpernel (Lysimachia nemorum), Primrose (Primula vulgaris) Honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum) and Common Dog‐violet (Viola riviniana) were amongst the plants recorded on the hedgebanks. The meadow at the end of the track was damp and rushy and species noted included Marsh Foxtail (Alopecurus geniculatus), Oval Sedge (Carex ovalis), Crested Dog's‐tail (Cynosurus cristatus), Selfheal (Prunella vulgaris), Yellow‐rattle (Rhinanthus minor) and Brooklime (Veronica beccabunga). A Large Skipper butterfly (Ochlodes venata) was also identified.

The gap into the next field had a muddy puddle with Common Water‐starwort (Callitriche stagnalis), Small Sweet‐grass (Glyceria declinata), Bristle Club‐rush (Isolepis setacea), Toad Rush (Juncus bufonius), Lesser Spearwort (Ranunculus flammula), Bog Stitchwort (Stellaria uliginosa) and Brooklime. The field was a dry flowery hay meadow with Yellow‐rattle (Rhinanthus minor) and many orchids including seven Early Marsh‐orchids (Dactylorhiza incarnata). In another area, a further eleven Early Marsh‐orchids were growing with Common Spotted‐orchids (Dactylorhiza fuchsii), Southern Marsh‐orchids (Dactylorhiza praetermissa) and hybrid marsh‐orchids (Dactylorhiza x grandis).

Southern Marsh‐orchid (Dactylorhiza praetermissa) in the ‘orchid meadow’. Photo Kath Pryce

In hedgerow trees, Dunnock, Song Thrush, Blackcap and Chiffchaff were recorded and from the famyard a Blue Tit family. A Buzzard was flying overhead.

Members were invited to join their hosts in the kitchen where they enjoyed cups of tea, strawberry scones, chocolate ganache cake and convivial conversation, which included Sheila and Roy explaining some of their planting knowledge (bracken is good for tomato plants as it provides potassium; a succession of gorse, nettle then Bracken occurs naturally) and Sheila telling us about the Swallows nesting one year in the spare bedroom, necessitating the use of a tent in the garden when visitors stayed. Then the party spent some time in the other part of the garden, raised beds with more interesting vegetables and weeds, also green manure beds and in the farmyard, a pair of Linnets posed for a photograph!

The pair of Linnets seen in the farmyard at the end of the meeting. Photo Richard Pryce

A very enjoyable walk, led by generous, interested and knowledgeable hosts – well worth attending. (Most Nats. meetings stick in my mind but this will be especially memorable). Richard Pryce promised the hosts a copy of the plant lists recorded from various habitats and locations made during the meeting in appreciation of the hospitality received.

Now a statistic: Number of plant species recorded during the visit = 174.