Tuesday 29 March 2011
An enjoyable day at the RHS show today was further enhanced by the surprise discovery that two American friends were getting awards. Kathryn Andersen, from Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, was the 100th recipient of the Peter Barr Memorial Cup, awarded for meritorious work with daffodils. Kathy was Secretary of the American Daffodil Society for many years, and is also well known for her interests in lilies and clivias. I first got to know her when she and her husband Marvin (who was also in London) came on an Alpine Garden Society Tour I led to East Africa in 1997. I dragged them up Mt Kenya and Kilimanjaro, where they reached higher altitudes (4750 m, 14,480') than most of the group who were much younger than they. Not put off by this experience, they joined a tour to the Drakensberg in 2002. Indomitable is a word invented for Kathy: she came to London from Spain, where she had been seeking wild daffodils.
Harold Koopowitz is also known for his work with Clivia and
daffodils, as well as being a noted expert on Asian slipper-orchids (Paphiopedilum), received the Ralph B White Medal for breeding Narcissus 'Itsy Bitsy Splitsy'. This is is a dwarf split-corona daffodil that, it has to be said, is not at all to my taste - images and information are available at DaffSeek.Org It was good to have chance to catch up with Harold, seen here receiving his award from the President, Elizabeth Banks.
Numerous other eminent plantspeople were given awards, mostly for their exhibits at RHS shows over the past year, but some for long-standing contributions in their fields. For once it was an effective ceremony on the dais in the Lawrence Hall, giving them the public recognition deserved.
And yes, there were some nice plants there too...
Iris sari subsp. manissadjianii, shown in the AGS show by Joy Bishop
Sunday 27 March 2011
|Magdalen tower |
across the meadow
|The River Cherwell and Fellows' Garden|
|New Buildings (1733), from below the Magdalen Plane, planted 1801|
Dinner in Hall was an enjoyable event: it was reassuring to know that the college kitchen still produces dreadful food and that the college cellar still contains excellent vintages. Better was to meet up with many former friends and acquaintances, some of whom I hadn't seen since we graduated, and find out what they're doing, besides making what seem to be lots of of babies. Luckily the much-vaunted Magdalen cabinet ministers are all above - or below! - our years, but every other profession and trade seemed to be represented, especially lawyers. There were lots of lawyers...
|In Hall, post-dessert.|
Friday 25 March 2011
Wednesday 23 March 2011
|Sweet Violet, Viola odorata|
|Dusky pink Viola odorata|
|Wood Anemone, Anemone nemorosa|
|Primroses, Primula vulgaris, and Lesser Celandine, Ranunculus ficaria|
|Barren Strawberry, Potentilla sterilis|
|Even Bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta, |
has moments when it looks almost pretty...
Monday 21 March 2011
|Philip the Lady Amherst Pheasant (Chrysolophus amherstiae) displaying.|
|Philip and Blondie (Yellow Golden Pheasant, Chrysolophus pictus luteus) sizing each other up.|
|Goldie (Golden Pheasant, Chrysolophus pictus)|
Coming home through the lanes this afternoon I saw this impressive herd of 33 Fallow Deer (Dama dama) in one of the Colesbourne fields. Dark animals are common in the local population, with some approaching back. These were mostly females, with a couple of yearling males amongst them.
|Fallow Deer in a field at Colesbourne this afternoon - |
not in the garden, fortunately...
Sunday 20 March 2011
|Betula sp. (grown as B. tauschei)|
|The valley and arboretum at Congrove|
Today I've been for Sunday lunch with Christine and Ben Battle at their home at Congrove, near Bath - an excellent meal and excellent company. Afterwards we toured the arboretum that Christine has been planting on their land in this secluded valley since 2002, and which is becoming a really notable collection. I've known it for several years, and even in its early days I was able to cite specimens growing there in New Trees. It's over a year since I was last there and the growth on the trees has been remarkable, aided by the attention provided by Christine and her right-hand man, Tony Webb, as well as the superb growing conditions in this well-watered, rich-soiled, west-facing valley.
Although it is still too early to see much growth on most trees, many signs of spring were apparent on a glorious warm sunny day. Here are a few details.
|Male cones on Torreya grandis|
|Wych Elm (Ulmus glabra) flowers|
|Magnolia sprengeri var. diva|
Saturday 19 March 2011
|Wild Daffodils, Narcissus pseudonarcissus|
As such, they have become a subject of conservation concern, and the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust has undertaken a study of their distribution and potential threats. This extremely interesting document can be read here. As the County Flower, the wild Daffodil's survival and presence is a matter of local pride, and each year the villages in the Golden Triangle organize daffodil events, which are currently ongoing. Further information is available from the SoGlos website (although they illustrate the events with a picture of an orange-trumpeted garden hybrid!).
The Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust focuses its daffodil conservation activities on two sites. The Betty Dawes Wood, owned by the Forestry Commission but managed by GWT, is an oak-hazel coppice, with a patchwork of areas coppiced at different times, so there are daffodils growing in rather shaded to open sites, with the inevitable differences in vigour and flower production. The Gwen and Vera's Fields Nature Reserve, comprising two adjacent, tiny old orchards, on the other hand demonstrate how the old meadows used to look - a mass of flowers. But wild Daffodils are not rare in the Golden Triangle - just much reduced. Every bit of woodland, and mile after mile of hedges and ditches, has them in abundance, a truly glorious sight.
|Wild Daffodils in coppiced woodland, Betty Dawes Wood|
|Active management in Betty Dawes wood benefits |
the Daffodils: the oaks aren't bad either.
|Field edges and hedgebanks are a refuge for the daffodils.|
|Daffodils in a roadside ditch: in this situation the clumps become quite large.|
|Wild Daffodils in Gwen and Vera's Fields Nature Reserve.|