Uphilldowndale

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


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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,

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and  historic

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not to mention scientific

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the precious seeds are nurtured,

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

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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,

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forms

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and colours to be found in nature

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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.

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There is scrumptious sculpture

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and wild meadows

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

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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

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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;

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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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Three Wise Men

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.

Three wise men_

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 .

Sheep Christmas Eve_

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.

Spud Christmas day

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.

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Charming

I’ve been enjoying the multitude of birds coming to the feeder, something to brighten  very grey, wet,  bedraggled days.

feeder

Whilst  perhaps not enough finches to describe them as a charm,  certainly enough to lift the spirits.

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When we did our recent building project, I came under pressure to cut this tree down,

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‘Its in the way of the view’ they said. ‘No, it is part of the view’ I said.

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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.

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Christmas at Kew

We returned to  the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew last week, you might remember we have a special family connection to Kew.  We attended the preview night of their Christmas at Kew event.

We had a lovely, colourful time.

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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.

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Grown ups and youngsters liked the curtain of light, very tactile.

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and great fun even if the photos were a bit hit and miss!

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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*)

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The palm house is my favourite, from every direction, it makes such a fabulous canvas for the lights.

palm house Paxton

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.


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The Problem Solved

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.

 The problem solved_

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.

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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

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Here he’s giving them a bit of a ruffle.  Clever isn’t it?

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