In the Sutton Poyntz area, we are fortunate to have a number of different habitats for wildflowers. The area has a number of old orchards, where Mistletoe is present on a small number of apple trees. During August, a few lawns have flowering spikes of the diminutive scarce orchid – Autumn Ladies-tresses.

With a mainly clay over chalk valley bottom, most of the wild flowers are those of neutral or west grassland. However, many of the fields are intensively managed but a few alongside the waterworks are quite herb rich with plants such as Bird’s-foot Trefoil, Bugle, Self-heal, Wild Onion, Meadow-sweet, Water Forget-me-not and Ragged Robin. A light grazing is helping these meadows to become reasonably floristically rich.

Sheep has grazed the steep slopes of East Hill and West Hill since the Saunders family retired from farming. Regrettably, these animals cannot cope with the Tor-grass, which has become established around the Gorse and Bramble. However, there are still small areas of chalk grassland, which have plants such as Horse-shoe Vetch (the food plant of Adonis Blue butterflies), Salad Burnet, Fairy Flax,, the occasional Pyramidal Orchid and even Early Purple-orchid. During the winter, of 2009-10 Natural England have managed to graze the area with Horses as well as reduce the Gorse mechanically. Let us hope that the grassland quality improves.

We also have a small area of woodland, to the north of the waterworks. Here under the Ash, Pedunculate Oak and Field Maple woodland the ground flora alters with the moisture levels in the wood. To the north in the wet woodland areas, King-cups are found at the streamside together with Ransoms, whilst to the south Dog’s Mercury, Early Purple Orchid, Primrose, Lesser Celandine, Pale Wood-violet cover much of the ground. There is a good shrub layer with Hawthorn, Hazel, Blackthorn, Dog Rose and Dogwood present. Most of the wood is quite recent, but the old field boundaries within the wood contain around twenty veteran trees.

The hedges in the village are of a fairly recent origin and contain, Hawthorn, Hazel, Blackthorn, Elder but Holly is quite scare. The River Jordan and its tributaries have a corridor of wet woodland, mainly willows but some Alder is found off Puddledock Lane. River Water-crowfoot, Yellow-flag iris and Water Speedwell are associated with the river and its banks.

Bird’s-foot Trefoil © John Newbould

Ragged Robin © John Newbould

Autumn Ladies Tresses © John Newbould