Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Fen Dandelion

Last week I went to visit my friend Owen the botanist and stay with him for a couple of days. He was surveying Wicken Fen and asked if i'd like to go too. In return for going with him on the survey he said he'd help me try and find the Fen Dandelion Taraxacum palustre which is found on the site. As this isn't a common dandelion I was very keen to go and see if we could find some.

The day of surveying was on a part of the fen that hasn't had anyone on it for 100 years (who'd have thought there was such a place in UK?) and we could only get there by boat. It was an amazing place - all overgrown with dense scrub and towering reeds - and although I got bitten, stung (by the stingless fen nettle), scratched, bruised and burned it was an incredible adventure to go to such a place.

After returning from surveying 'compartment one' we tried to find a Fen Dandelion. The image above shows the meadow we had to search. The two dots on the image are Owen and Peter helping me look. After inspecting the ground for ages we only found one dandelion on the whole meadow and it wasn't even a fen dandelion. Boooo!

As it goes it is a rubbish time of the year to look - with it flowering in early spring and dying back. I was hoping it would at least keep its leaves though, but it wasn't to be.

Never mind - i'll just have to visit again next spring. And i did have a great time going to a place nobody has been for 100 years (and probably won't go again for another 10). Thanks to Owen, Peter, James and Tim.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Dandelion Wine

'Every year,' said Grandfather. 'They run amuck; I let them. Pride of lions in the yard. Stare, and they burn a hole in your retina. A common flower, a weed that no one sees, yes. But for us, a noble thing, the dandelion.'

My holiday reading while in France was Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. I bought it at a car boot sale in Alnwick and although i remember really liking Ray Bradbury books when i was a teenager - i did only buy it for the title.

It is the most magical book - one of those books you don't ever want to end. I read most of it on the train journey back across France, in a park in Paris, on the Eurostar train under the Channel and then on the train from London to Preston. There were a couple of bits that made me want to cry, but i thought it wasn't appropriate to cry on a train, plus there was a gripping scary bit that made me shut the book so i could take time to catch my breath. Wonderful!

And now i'm back from holiday i'm reading a hefty text book on meadow management.

Monday, 9 August 2010

French Dandelions

My holiday in France was really wonderful and I managed to collect dandelions from Vimoutiers, Camembert, Trouville and Paris too. Lovely.

I also spotted these tins of chicory coffee with dandelion designs on in a supermarket and brought one home. The tin doesn't have any instructions on it at all so i'm not especially sure what i'm supposed to do with its contents...