Helleborines at Yockletts Bank

I love the downland landscape around Canterbury, there is a maze of ancient hollow ways overhung with coppice and hedgerows traversing steep banks and hidden valleys occasionally allowing a peek at a lovely English landscape which in my imagination has been unchanged for millenia. This was the scene as we turned off Stone Street (the Roman Road connecting Canterbury to Hythe), went through Petham and on to Gogway, a fantastically named and no doubt ancient lane cutting through the Yockletts Bank nature reserve.

I have not visited Yockletts Bank before, but it is famous for it’s Lady Orchids which being August we were far too late for. We were rewarded by a diverse woodland flora though, including Field Maple and Hornbeam coppice, ripe hazelnuts (can I call them cobnuts?) on the floor and most excitingly, helleborines. I am not a helleborine expert and I wasn’t able to immediately identify them, but there may have been two species present. I think one was certainly Broad-leaved Helleborine but the other was smaller, had darker, smaller flowers and was a more shy plant altogether. I was able to take these pictures of the two differing flower spikes:

Broad-leaved Helloborine
Tall Broad-leaved Helleborine flower spike
Smaller helleborine with darker, redder flowers (pity the picture is out of focus - they will improve!)

You can find Yocklett’s Bank here:

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