Warden’s Blog – July 2021

15th July 2021

Here we are already in full Summer bloom, with the Commons looking a lot greener than usual in July thanks to all the rain we have been experiencing. In spite, or perhaps because of the weather, we have had a great display of Common spotted orchids this year, with them extending into new areas as well. We were entered into the conservation section of the Britain in Bloom competition again and this year’s judging took place earlier than usual, in late June, so they were all still flowering on judging day and I could show them off.

Common spotted orchids on Tunbridge Wells Common


The rain, now followed by sunshine means that everything is growing madly and we are struggling to keep on top of the grass cutting. It also means that unlike the previous few years, our ponds have remained full of water and I have not had to rescue any tadpoles from rapidly evaporating puddles.

The new ponds we created at the Marlpit site on Rusthall Common and the shallow scrapes at Bulls Hollow are greening up well and it was good to see lots of frog spawn and quite a few newts already colonising the Marlpit ponds. Hopefully we will see evidence of the Great Crested Newts from the original Marlpit pond using them for breeding next Spring. We also installed some new steps at the back of the Marlpit site in the Spring but I think they will need some extra work to stop the thick clay from the slope making them too slippery.

Marlpit ponds

We are now getting started on our biggest task of the year, the cutting and clearing of our many tracks and woodland paths and the cutting of our glades and meadows and the removal of the cut grass. This cutting and removal is our way of reproducing some of the effects of grazing, which created and maintained low soil fertility levels. This is vital if we are to continue regenerating some of the heather areas and increase wildflower levels and diversity; high nutrient levels in the soil results in domination by coarse grasses and aggressive species such as bramble and nettles.

We seem to have huge amounts of flowers on many of our trees this year, presumably down to the wet May again. Our Lime trees in particular are putting on wonderful displays and the scent is quite intoxicating, go and have a sniff around the Victoria Grove on a warm evening but be quick, it won’t last long.

Lime tree flowers

Steve Budden