Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Trees and local flora

Just over a week ago, thanks to my Warwick friend Penny's tip that a walk led by Steve Falks, Senior Keeper of Natural History, was being planned under the auspices of Warwick County Council, I spent a superb morning at Warwickshire's Police Headquarters at Leek Wootton.
The Mansion built in the 19th Century, can be seen from the walks through the golf course, but it was quite something to see inside. The local pink stone was used to great advantage in the magnificent central hall, and in the dining room, the talk started with a presentation about the families who built the house, with coffee and biscuits, then we went out for our walk. It was going to be one the hottest days so far, and the organisers covered every eventuality with bottled water and sun screen.
I was ready with my camera, but hey failure again, similar to what happened when I set out to photograph the snowdrops as Blacklow Hill. Spooky or what, we were less than a mile away, however it may really be a failing battery. Apparently they have a life of about three years, and I had my camera for about 5 years. I also ought to have taken a note book to write down the special plants we found, that is now on my next take it with list!
Steve Falks showed us around the grounds together with the Head Gardener. There were some wonderful tree specimens, and around the lake we found some rare plant species. I hope to receive some good photographs form Steve in due course.
One of the first unusual plants which I was able to identify was Claytonia. They are not native but come from North America. There were huge drifts under some of the cedar trees, and were thriving in the deep conifer leaf litter which could only receive slanting sunshine.
The last time I had seen it growing was in a friend's garden in Spain, up in the hills, on ground which had been conifer forest. They had been sown as a salad item. and with permission, I brought some home from Leek Wootton, to plant out in the garden. I had been particularly attracted to the plant on account of its lime green leaves, and the pleasing shape of the cauline leaves of above which the small flowers emerge. They are really the prettiest thing to find amongst salads.
Another very green thing happened to me there: Penny presented me with a really lovely cotton three quarter lime green sleeved cardigan. It will well worn this year, just the colour of my handbag! I was just tickled pink that Penny should think of me so.

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