Common flowers ornament the gardens of Leeds Castle in Kent; the Wood Garden hosts azaleas, rhododendrons and daffodils, while the Culpepper Garden exhibits roses, lupins, poppies and lad's love. Kent is also home to flowers that grow in the wild, like orchids that find the perfect combination of light, moisture, warmth and nutrients to germinate.
Chalk Habitat Flowers
Wild orchids, some shaped like insects and animals, are among the attractions at Samphire Hoe, a conservation area in Kent. Samphire Hoe is the product of the Channel Tunnel construction (completed in 1994), when chalky soil dug out of the ground formed ideal growing materials. Thousands of orchids such as the early spider orchid (Ophrys sphegodes) shaped like a spider, bloom in April and May. Park Gate Down is part of the Hector Wilks Reserve of chalk grassland with scrub and surrounding woodland. Here are monkey orchids (Orchis simia) with pinkish-mauve flower spikes that open from the top moving downwards, creating a disheveled appearance that resembles a monkey. The relatively rare lady orchids (Orchis purpurea) have large and profuse flowers on spikes and the appearance of a small person in crinoline. Denge Wood, a nature reserve in east Kent, is an open area with surrounding woodland. Wildflowers include greater butterfly orchids (Platanthera chlorantha) with white cross-shaped flowers on open spikes, and common twayblade (Listera ovata), which exhibit tiny, yellow-green flowers on long stems.
Meadow and Dry Habitat Flowers
Meadow habitats are common homes to bird's foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), which has several common names including bacon and eggs, fingers and thumbs, cat's claws, bird's claws and lady's slipper. Pretty, yellow flowers grace tall, thin stems about 16 inches high, from May to October. This perennial wildflower grows in dry grassland and open woods. It is a member of the Pea family. The harebell (Campanula rotundifolia) is native to dry and sunny habitats including dry grasslands, open woods and scrub. It is the equivalent of Scotland's bluebell, and also called witch's thimble. "Harebell" comes from the belief that it grew where hares lived. The scented, blue, bell-like flowers appear in clusters of about 12 inches in length, usually blooming between June and September. The harebell has magical associations with witches, fairies and, of course, hares. The harebell prefers sun or partial shade, but does well even in poor and dry soil conditions. This perennial is a member of the Bellflower family.
Sand Dune Habitat Flowers
The Royal St. George's Golf Course in east Kent is the unlikely habitat of the lizard orchid (Himantoglossum hircinum). No one can confirm exactly why this orchid thrives on the golf course. One theory is that golfers' shoes and trolley wheels spread the orchid seeds. Another theory is the suitability of the sand dunes to orchids. This orchid exhibits up to 80 flowers on a spike. Its name comes from the resemblance of the orchid lip to the tail and hind legs of a lizard.