Uphilldowndale

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


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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.

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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.

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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.

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Identified and catalogued

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this most precious of treasure is prepared

seed jars

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

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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.


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Taddington Moor High Mere

Taddington Moor High Mere looked nothing like this when I stumbled upon it today. I was on one of my pre work diversions again, I thought I might be in with a chance of mist mantled hills, punctuated by field barns or piercing church spires. But I simply couldn’t get above the cloud that has superimposed the inversion mist I’d hoped for.

Never mind, the beauty was in the detail.

Scabious seed head

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Rosebay willow herb

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There were so many beautiful flowers, but it was the cobwebs that stole the show.

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Here soggy  thistledown has caught in the web

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I’ll go back another day in search of the view

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It only took until lunch time for my trousers to dry out….


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Thirty Days Wild. June 2nd

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_02

 

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 I endeavour to bring you a post everyday.

 

Well that was certainly a wild night if not a day wild. A storm did rage.  What a difference a day makes, this morning not a dandelion clock could be found, not one in sight, in four acres.  Where ever the seeds were blown too, at least they would have been well watered.

30DW Clock_

 

Dandelion clocks are a joy

I had planed to show you some of the goings on at the nuthatch box that Tom fixed up for me at Christmas, it seemed to have a nest of blue tits in it, yesterday I could just about see a beak or two, and their was a lot of cheeping;

30DW Bird box_

today it is deserted. Either that or they are having a long lie, after such a wild and disturbing night. I hoping for more shots like this.

Little bird 2

My nest on the other had is full, Tom is home, for a few days, before he goes off on a big adventure.


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Bdahlia

As a child I could never quite master the word dahlia, I always called them bdahlias, b’s and d’s were never a friend of mine.

Bdahlia -1

My Dad grew lots of dahlias his favourites were  spiky deep crimson varieties, they always remind me of him (and earwigs!). He used to insist each autumn on drying the tubers that he’d lifted from the flower bed (to protect them from frost)  in the airing cupboard. My Mum was never impressed by this intrusion to her line dried laundry!  I snapped these  dahlias in the garden at Chatsworth House on Saturday, I nipped over just in time to capture the penultimate day of the Barry Flanagan sculpture exhibition. More photos to follow.


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Summers Past

And the making of memories.

Forgiving me for returning to the beach and family holidays. But a couple of   posts I’ve read this week have catapulted me back to Devon.  First there was Nancy’s post reflecting on just how many summers her family had enjoyed their favourite beach  just like the Uphilldowndale family’s love of a certain Devon beach,

Summers Past -1

then there was Sarah’s post that made me smile and recall our coastal meeting with a grasshopper.  So I nipped back to the post I’d written at the time, back in 2009, about our encounter with the artist David Measures, about his glorious art and his generosity with both his time and knowledge: sadly, when I followed the links, I discovered that David died last year.  Looking at the website of Southwell Artists I saw that Christine Measures, David’s wife, is also an artist.

When I met David he told me he was working on a book that would capture, not just the markings of a butterfly, for identification but how it moved, its mannerisms, what a bird watcher might call it’s jizz.  The slide show of Christine’s art captures both David and Devon summer holidays perfectly. Beautiful.

 


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Seaside Rock

How quickly our seaside holiday is becoming a distant memory. How quickly the real world piles in to the vacated mind.

How heavy it has rained today! Just as well I have some holiday snaps to look back at.

On the coast path there were some fine lumps of rock (you know I’m fond of them) ancient gate posts, long since disused girded with hand forged iron.

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The remnants of old walls

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The bizarre weather we’ve had in UK this summer seems at least to have pleased the costal flowers, or just made them flower later than usual. I can’t ever recall  ever seeing quite so many as this year.

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The insect world seemed appreciative

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Just delightful really, *sigh*

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Here, There and Not Quite Everywhere; Yet

We’ve been bouncing around the country like a pinball this week, the trusty family estate car (station wagon) clawing through the miles*, since the wedding in Oxford last weekend, destinations have included, Aberystwyth which is as difficult to get to as it is to spell, London, Manchester, Bakewell, Matlock and Bangor. And it’s not over yet, Stirling and two trips to Manchester have still to be chalked up this week.  Whilst we’ve had some rainy trips, we’ve managed to avoid the worst of the flooding that has blighted great swathes of the country, it is all to do with the Jet Stream apparently

At dusk tonight Spud  the dog and I went out for a spot of bat watching, no hope of capturing them on camera I’m afraid  they are too swift and agile for me to manage anything other than admiring them.

Another summer evening pleasure to my mind is the scent of the garden, however this year, to my nose the honeysuckle’s perfume seems rather diluted by the lack of good weather,

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but closer inspection of an image taken with flash shows that as far as insects are concerned the honeysuckle is as attractive as ever.

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*We tried to travel by train, but the cost of fares and scheduling of trains put the mockers on that plan.

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