Steppe Planting

Here are a few shots of the Big Sky Meadow at RHS Hyde Hall. It is a 46 acre project to convert land to a perennial meadow and I’m sure you’ll agree it looks pretty amazing.

The plants are those common to the Eurasian steppes, North American prairies and African grasslands. The UK has lost 97% of its meadows. To read more about this project, please visit

https://www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/hyde-hall/hyde-hall-blogs/hyde-hall/June-2016/big-sky-meadow

Blue Eryngium planum and yellow Galium verum.

When dried, the yellow flowers smell of freshly mown hay. These were once used to stuff straw mattresses. A yellow dye was also made from these flowers.

Grasses swaying in the wind. The weather was not favourable for photography – a light wind and drizzle.

Queen Anne’s lace, a member of the carrot family. Legend has it that Queen Anne of England (1655 – 1714), pricked her finger and a drop of blood landed on the white lace she was sewing.

Berkehya purpurea from South Africa is a drought tolerant plant, suited to areas with poor soils.

Red clover – in herbal medicine, this was used to treat skin disorders.

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The Yorkshire Dales

A bit of landscape photography from the Yorkshire Dales. A tranquil scene of snowdrops growing beside a small stream, protected by moss-covered dry stone walls.

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There are many sheep farms. Worth a look … Yorkshire shepherdess

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Traditional farming landscapes of field barns and dry stone walls in the valley of Wensleydale. In Winter, cattle were kept in these barns and fed with hay. The landscape has been farmed for thousands of years. Prior to this, it was covered in woodland.

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The Yorkshire Dales is famous for its limestone scenery. The grey rock was formed from the shells and skeletons of billions of sea creatures, laid down millions of years ago in tropical oceans. Ancient glaciers moving over the landscape and then rainwater over thousands of years, produced the cracks (or grykes) of the landscape that exists today. In the distance is the Ribblehead Viaduct, built by 1000 navvies in Victorian times. It has 24 arches and is part of the Settle to Carlisle railway line.

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A dilapidated building in the middle of the moors.

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Dry stone walls are the largest man-made feature of the dales. There are approximately 5000 miles of them. They are ‘dry’ because there is no mortar holding them together.

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Seal study – Part 2

Seals are intriguing creatures. Looking at the way they look back at us, they probably find us quite interesting too. They are playful and expressive. I tried to find out a bit more about their behaviour, but other than the fact that they are ‘highly intelligent marine mammals,’ not much is known about their ‘subtle nuances.’ (Cornwall seal group research trust). 

They are certainly fun to watch from a distance – guidelines suggest 150 feet. Not only can they bite, but they can pass on some infectious diseases to humans. They can suffer stress, or even abandon their young.

Seals look almost dog-like, yet also like big blubbery, furry fish! There are many stories written about seals. Selkie stories from Scottish and Irish folklore, are about creatures which are seal-like in appearance in the ocean, yet take on the human form on land.

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Seal study – Part I

I was fortunate to get quite close to an Atlantic grey seal and Common seal colony with my telephoto lens. Bulls live for 25 years, but cows live up to 35 years. It is important to keep your distance because they can move fast and bite. 

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This seal had beautiful fur. It reminded me a bit of a leopard! 

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Look at those teeth! Seals feed on a variety of fish and shellfish. The smell hangs in the air…

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It is thought that seals bask in the sun in order to remove parasites from their skin. They don’t move a lot.

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A seal breeding area is called a rookery. More pictures to follow in a few days, but I am keeping hold of my best ones for now… I have other plans for those!

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A carpet of snowdrops …

The snowdrops were out in force! Galanthus nivalis is one species which self-seeds and spreads quickly. Bees use snowdrops for nectar when not many other plants are flowering.

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