When the weather is harsh, its worth putting some effort into reaching the last berries on the pink rowan, it was quite a display of agility as the tip of the branch swayed wildly.
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,
not to mention scientific
the precious seeds are nurtured,
given the exactly the right conditions for their development, hot,cold, damp, dry reflecting their origins from around the globe.
Then lavished with care, moving from the laboratory to the glasshouses.
where highly skilled staff cater for their every need
Oh how I love the shapes,
and colours to be found in nature
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.
There is scrumptious sculpture
and wild meadows
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.
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.
We had a full behind the scenes tour. Seeds arrive from all over the world, some are collected by Kew scientists in the field,
others are sent directly, volunteers help sort and prepare the seeds for storage.
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.
Identified and catalogued
this most precious of treasure is prepared
to be stored in an underground vault, at a chilling –21C
You need specialist clothing to hang about in there, and certainly not shorts;
We settled for pressing our noses and camera lenses against the glass
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.
Part two to follow.
They didn’t come from the east, more of a south westerly direction.
Cutting and sticking away at Christmas cards in my girl shed the other day, I thought I heard voices, not from above you understand; but from the field below: and low, it came to pass that three wise men had decided that the old slurry tank in the field would make a great bench for a winter picnic lunch. It seems quite fitting, as my girl shed was once a stable.
Just a quick snap, I didn’t want to disturb them, they looked very contented, with their bales of butties and flasks of tea.
When they were rested, they set forth, following yonder star, and probably in search of a swift half of beer in the next village.
On Christmas eve, I was more in need of a shepherd than a wise man; the grass being greener on our side of the drystone wall, we had unscheduled visitors .
We are have a quiet and relaxed day, just the four of us and Spud the dog of course, he exhausted himself with his wrapping paper shredding fest, as is traditional.
Have a lovely Christmas, wherever you may be, especially those who don’t have the chance t rest and relax and have to work.
We liked this decoration, spotted in our local hospital, definitely making the most of what comes to hand to raise a little festive cheer.
I’ve been enjoying the multitude of birds coming to the feeder, something to brighten very grey, wet, bedraggled days.
Whilst perhaps not enough finches to describe them as a charm, certainly enough to lift the spirits.
When we did our recent building project, I came under pressure to cut this tree down,
‘Its in the way of the view’ they said. ‘No, it is part of the view’ I said.
Jammy and Dodger the cat haven’t been paying much attention to the birds, under floor heating and Spuds bed is obviously a more attractive option.
We had a lovely, colourful time.
The candle lights were a big hit with the grown ups, we loved the smell; they had a touch of the pagan about them (the Wicker Man was mentioned) , my photos don’t do them justice, they seemed to go on into infinity, and that was beyond my skills.
Grown ups and youngsters liked the curtain of light, very tactile.
and great fun even if the photos were a bit hit and miss!
Mr Uphilldowndale had a go at finding his inner child, I couldn’t keep up (nor would I want too, I can feel nauseous on the Pendoino trains*)
The palm house is my favourite, from every direction, it makes such a fabulous canvas for the lights.
The palm house was designed by Sir Joseph Paxton, I think he’d have been impressed by the theatre of it all.
* The train is forgiven, we can leave Euston station in London and be turning the key in the front door just over two hours later.
I’m always curious to peep into a box of mystery items, I came across this on my travels this week.
A book, published in 1900. The Problem Solved, a practical treatise on artificial incubation and chicken rearing. What a title.
A quick scoot around the Internet shows me that that the title reprinted many times, and translated into French. According to the box, this particular copy was found in a empty farm house that was about to be demolished to make way for a quarry.
Hearson’s Patent Champion Incubator or not, Rocky our cockerel, will be pleased to note that he can’t be cut out of the process of rearing chick. He has been growing new feather of late, just to let the girls know he is in peak form.
I know I’ve blogged about new feathers before, but it’s a process that never fails to interest me. The way the quill grows first, the tip breaks off and the new feather emerges like a fine paint brush
Here he’s giving them a bit of a ruffle. Clever isn’t it?