Gatton’s Plantation is an oblong piece of woodland lying to the east side of Cocksure Lane (from which access can be gained through a wooden gate) and the north side of Parsonage Lane. It is separated by a narrow strip of horse-grazing fields from Joyden’s Woods to the east and is managed by the Woodland Trust.
The tree cover is extremely dense, yet there is a well-developed understorey and groundcover helped, one suspects, by the limited amount of pathways and absence of any large grazing animals. There are a number of large Turkey Oaks and quite a lot of Elm along the Parsonage Lane margin, which would be worth checking for White-letter Hairstreak butterflies.
Parts of the main path were quite damp on what was my first ever my visit and there were Rushes present, along with Square-stemmed St. John’s-wort which favours such conditions, and only occurs in a handful of places in the Borough.
There was also a single plant of Hairy St. John’s-wort, which is also found at Braeburn Park and on the sewer pipe bank by Thames Road Wetland.
Wood Spurge, an ancient woodland indicator species, was present.
A yet-to-be-identified Mint was enjoying the moist conditions.
There was a single plant of Spurge Laurel (Daphne laureola), which I have yet to see anywhere else in Bexley.
The native Honeysuckle was also present, larval foodplant of the White Admiral butterfly, two of which were seen in the glades here, and also plenty of Violets, larval foodplant of the Silver-washed Fritillary, which was not found (though the plants were in very shady places). There were also some good patches of Greater Stitchwort.
There are coppiced glades either side of the central pathway in which most of the butterfly activity can be found.
More of interest could doubtless be found on a longer visit, with time to explore away from the main central pathway.