Uphilldowndale

Watching nature take its course, from the top of a hill in northern England


1 Comment

Slow to germinate part two

Following on from my last post (eventually) where explored the underground vaults of Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank. 

Back up into the life giving light for this post: the setting is glorious,  its both contemporary,

 seed bank ext 2

and  historic

MSB3

not to mention scientific

MSB 17

the precious seeds are nurtured,

MSB 18

given the exactly the right  conditions for their development, hot,cold, damp, dry reflecting their origins from around the globe.

MSB 19

Then lavished with care, moving from the laboratory to the glasshouses.

please leave as you find

where highly skilled staff  cater for their every need

how to water

Oh how I love the shapes,

no water 

forms

MSB1

and colours to be found in nature

how house_

When we’d finished our very special tour, we spent some time in the grounds of Wakehurst, which is in Sussex not London, please note! With its abundant wildlife, look how you can see the colour of the flower through the bees wing.

MSB 15

There is scrumptious sculpture

MSB 16

and wild meadows

MSB2

(oh I’m a sucker for a wild flower meadow).

Moon penny  5


6 Comments

Slow to germinate, part one

It would be churlish of me to complain about the weather, its been wet grey and dismal, but we’ve had nothing like the troubles of great swathes of the UK.  I’ve not been out with the camera, I’ve been very happy to fall into a state of semi hibernation. It’s the time of year where curling up with a seed catalogue in front of a warm fire seems like an ideal  way to pass  the time.

So it perhaps seems fitting to dig up a post that has been lying  in  a dormant state in my  blog drafts since June 2014. Yes 2014

Some of you may have been around long enough to remember that the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew hold a special place in the  hearts and history of Mr Uphilldowndale’s family.

It was as a result of this connection we had the privilege of visiting Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank  at Wakehurst in Sussex ;  in a nut shell, the aim of the seed bank is to provide an insurance policy against extinction of plants in the wild.

seed bank ext

When HRH Prince Charles opened the Millennium Seed bank he described it as a ‘a gold reserve … a place where this reserve currency, in this case life itself, is stored’.

It’s a special place.

breathing planet_

We  had a full behind the scenes tour.  Seeds arrive from all over the world, some are collected by Kew scientists in the field,

so many seeds

others are sent directly, volunteers help sort and prepare the seeds for storage.

MSB4

Just sometimes, the seeds arrive  from the four corners of the world with excess baggage, the staff need to keep their wits about them, and a sense of humour.

big spid

Identified and catalogued

seed vault 4

this most precious of treasure is prepared

seed jars

to be stored in an underground vault, at a chilling –21C

seed vault 2

You need specialist clothing to hang about in there, and certainly not shorts;

seed vault 3

We settled for pressing our noses and camera lenses against the glass

seed vault

It’s one thing keeping all these seeds, and knowing where you’ve put them, I’d be rubbish at that! But you also need to know, what you’ve got will germinate.  I was very taken with the x-ray images of seeds, that can tell the trained eye, a lot about the viability of the seed samples; I thought they were rather beautiful.

xray seeds_

Part two to follow.


3 Comments

Between Earth and Air

Earlier this week, Spud the dog and I were out and about in time to watch the sunrise. It was moody and misty, we like that sort of thing*

leaves mist_

I’m not sure what the black bar down the centre of the above image is. Is it some sort of refraction? A reader will know, I feel sure.

sunrise mist_

As the sun climbed higher, and behind a bank of clouds, the electricity pylons on a distant ridge appeared to be striding out along  the clouds.

pylons mist_

that is a bout as pretty as I think you can make a pylon look. Usually they are a blot on the landscape

*Spud likes anything that involves me picking up the camera bag and putting wellington boots on, he always reckons he’s in with a chance of field time.


1 Comment

Thirty days wild. June 24th

The best thing that you can do for nature is too make it part of your life. That’s why we’re asking thousands of people to make room for nature in their everyday lives this June. Please spread the word amongst friends, colleagues and family and get them to sign up, too! After all, all our lives are better if they’re a bit wild… ‘

I’ve signed up to 30 Days Wild with the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust,  with the aim of blogging each day, a little bit of the nature of my world.

watching me_

I’m not sure who was watching who?


2 Comments

Thirty Days Wild. June 6th

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_06

‘The best thing that you can do for nature is to make it part of your life. That’s why we’re asking thousands of people to make room for nature in their everyday lives this June. Please spread the word amongst friends, colleagues and family and get them to sign up, too! After all, all our lives are better if they’re a bit wild… ‘

 

I’ve signed up to 30 Days Wild with the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust,  with the aim of blogging each day, a little bit of the nature of my world.

 

more than 97% of meadows had been destroyed in England since the 1930s

 

DW30 meadow

Freddy the farmer, told me there  were once corncrakes in this field.


7 Comments

Flashes of Light

How it has rained, and rained this week. The occasional burst of sunlight was very welcome.

Spring sun_

I can report that the  neighbouring lambs are ‘growing up with the grass’, or in this case the nettles, as this nettle bed seems to be a favourite haunt.

growing up with the nettles_-2

This morning the sun brought out the bees, to the vetch ( in my head I could hear the theme to 633 Squadron as this bee swooped in)

Incoming_

And the winberry flowers 

polinators

Remember I was given a Trophy Cam for Christmas? Well its only taken us five months to actually set it up (blame the DIY) but look what we ‘shot’ on the second night.

M2E1L0-3R350B300

Brock the badger, we’ve always thought he was around, from the scrape marks and poo pits in the field; but other than one sighting in the lane (which must have been many years ago now, because Mr Uphilldowndale and Joe were coming home from Beaver Scouts) we’ve never seen him (or her) in the flesh.


7 Comments

Out on a Limb

Move over the frogs, the toads are coming to a pond near you…

toad swiming_

It was impossible to count, but I’m sure there must have been over a hundred. When we came home at dusk on Thursday night we had to abandon the car in the drive, we couldn’t have driven on without squashing them, they arriving from  every direction. I wonder how they know which direction to head.

Toads pond

They had no qualms about being disturbed  by humans or dogs. Spud just jumped in

Spud swimming with toads

And joined those looking for love

beautiful toad eyes _

This one was climbing back out, job done I suppose.

toad climbing_

It sat in the sun for quite a while,

toad grden

it was a very sunny day, I was getting a bit worried it might need some factor 50 sun cream, that skin  looks delicate.

I spotted one with only three legs. I wondered if it was a birth defect, or if it had lost a limb in some toady trauma. It amazes me how animals can seem to manage such an injury.

toad three legs_

It seemed to be coping just fine (and no, it didn’t swim round in circles).

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 563 other followers