Back in 2008 I wrote about the broom cycle at Dungeness click here. The last two photos in this post show a broom Cytisus scoparius I got to know well in the 1990s. It was growing on previously disturbed shingle and was heavily grazed by rabbits, forming a low broom turf. Then an outbreak of myxomatosis allowed the bush to reach for the skies (the second last photograph in the above post shows this just as time was starting to catch up with this plant and it died). The final photo shows a number of seedlings colonising around the remains of the bush, benefitting from the humus it had added to the bare shingle.
Move forward four years and those seedlings have formed several large wood sage Teucrium scorodonia plants.
The wood sage plants are growing with
a straggly specimen of bramble Rubus fruticosus and surprisingly several yellow horned poppies Glaucium flavum. The latter appear to be the legacy of the gravel industry. A conveyor belt carrying gravel dropped sand into the shingle and this matrix seems to have benefitted this plant.
The broom persists as dead stems, now colonised by encrusting lichens.
In the above picture you can also see the dead seed-heads of an annual plant, shepherd’s cress Teesdalia nudicaulis. This is a nationally scarce species, virtually restricted in Kent to the Dungeness area. An example is ringed below in blue, with this years flowers encircled in red.
Life at this fantastic nature reserve builds on the remains of those that went before, creating something different and just as special.