Saturday 25 June 2011

Helictotrichon pratense Meadow Oat-grass

Grass of the Month for June 2011   

Tall, stiff and upright,  shining in t' sun
Botanist spots it - Oh what fun
On chalk or limestone, to it we'll run
Four awns on t' spikelet, not two or one.

(Can be sung to "Rock a bye Baby", or "I had a little nut tree")

The spikelets are over 1 cm long.
It was formerly called Avenula pratense.

How do you distinguish them from other "Oat-grasses"?


Meadow Oat-grass has 4 flowers (and 4 awns) per spikelet (well, between 3 and 6),
Downy Oat-grass has 2 or 3 awns per spikelet.
False Oat-grass has 1 long awn per spikelet.

When not in flower it is equally easy - the upper surface of the blades are very white and have "Better tramlines than the Poas" - i.e. they have two dark grooves running down at the centre of the blade... I must find some picture to put up.. but it's raining rather to hard outside now to go and get a picture.
.It is an indicator of old grassland and disappears if a field is given lots of fertilizer.

(For links to other grasses through 2010 and 2011 see Grasses Page)

Thursday 23 June 2011

Saltaire Ladies, Ladies bedstraw, Clover, Cake and Coincidences

How is fundraising for the Rainforest Fund going? -

Slowly, but we had a boost today.

And things tie up.. remember me talking about Clover in yesterday's blog? Well you'll see.

Last month, an organiser from  a Methodist Shipley and Saltaire Ladies group had phoned me to see if we (St John's) did teas.

Lesley who sometimes organises church teas nobly offered to organise the salad, and we split the profit between the Church  and the Rainforest Fund. Win and Maurice helped.

And my job?

"You could get some flowers to put on the table" suggested Lesley.

So early that afternoon off I trotted   (sorry, staggered) , up the near vertical hill to Lower Winskill, where I met Tom Lord thistle stubbing.   "May I pick a few of your  Yellow Rattle please?". I admired his Red Clover. He said it grew best where the Yellow Rattle had got established.

Tom told me he had received such a nice letter from a partially sighted group who had visited his meadows, with their wheelchair accessible new path,  for about four hours the previous week. "People need to stay a long time to get enough out of the meadows" he said.

I collected more wildflowers and returned, and placed them in three small vases on the dining table.

The Saltaire Group arrived and were treated to a splendid salad (ham/cheese or tuna)  and trifle and cake.

We all admired the flowers including the Red Clover. I said I had got if from Lower Winskill.

Then their minibus driver said "I know Tom Lord, I took a group of partially sighted people up their last week!"

Small world.

After costs, we made £28.87 for the Rainforest Fund and £28.87 for the Church Fund; and the ladies bought £16.50 worth of Greetings cards.

Thanks to all.

Tuesday 21 June 2011

Bishop Nick ascends Pen y Ghent

How should a new Bishop get to know his Diocese?

On foot of course.

Bishop Nick, new bishop of Bradford Diocese took advantage of today  21 June,the longest day of the year to visit many places and started by setting off for the summit of Pen y Ghent at 5am from Horton school.

The forecast (and arrival) of rain did not deter the groups of 17 people who donned waterproofs and set of .. upwards. The walk would be 5.5 miles long and involve climbing from 232 m at Horton to 694 m (2,277ft)  at the summit.
John Bavington and Bishop Nick

The final steps of the millstone grit ridge on the
 south face of Pen y Ghent

Do we make it to the summit?
Yes we do --

To find a small group has gone ahead and made coffee and flapjacks for us.

Bishop Nick records us on his tape recorder  at the top clapping for the coffee

On the way down he spies some sheets of white flowers on the cliff.

"What are they?"

Later we find some by the wallside. It is Mossy Saxifrage! (see the picture at the top of this posting).

Later we find the grass Yorkshire Fog and the important plant Red Clover

We arrive at the main road by 8am ready for Bishop Nick to go to Feizor for breakfast at the excellent cafe there and to do (wet) dry stone walling with the farmers... and many more activities during the day till evening-time in Bradford

Monday 20 June 2011

Sward - a Drama about Haymeadows

A play by the theatre company Blaise has been performed in 
many local venues in the Yorkshire Dales. there are four actors. Jason a young farmer out spraying thistles meets Jemima a boatny student collecting haymeadow seeds .. and the magically get transported through time from pre-bronze age when everywhere was forested up to the future ..

I went to see it at Hawes two weeks ago. Then on Thursday it would be at Settle. I  made a collection of Haymeadow plants so that people could see what the plants are like that the actors talk about - Yellow rattle, Bush vetch, Meadow sweet 

"And don't forget the grasses - they're often overlooked" was a key phrase in the play - So I brought in Quaking-grass and Cock's-foot and Yorkshire Fog and Ryegrass.

Here are the hero and heroine looking at the plants

Here they are on the stage

The play was held at the Victoria Hall in Settle. they filmed this performance - so people should be able to obtain copies of the DVD and watch it later.

I made some voting slips  and asked people to choose their favourite haymeadow plant.

Wood cranes-bill (above) scored 6 votes followed closely by Quaking-grass with 5 votes.

I took it to the foyer at our church next ready for Sunday service on 19th.. continued in next blog post.

Sunday 12 June 2011

Winskill Open Studio - NYOS

11-12 June and 18-19 June is North Yorkshire Open Studios - Here is what I found at Lower Winskill Farm above Langcliffe on Saturday 11th June. There are stone carvings by  Sarah Smith both inside and outside the buildings. See and
Here is a face contemplating the flowers and view with Ingleborough in the background.

Below a potter is at work.

His coil pots are in the foreground

He has a machine to help him make the coils

Being photographed at work by Stephen

In the buttercup field (now rather red clover and yellow rattle field) is a sculpture looking like a buttercup "seed"

On one side it is polished.

It is made of Persian travertine - and close examination
shows layers of crystals similar to that in the tufa at Goredale.

A demonstration of traditional lime services -
here using different materials for plastering

Photographing the inside of the visitor centre

Meadow buttercup left in doorway

The approach road from the visitor centre
On the approach road

The footpath down to Langcliffe
Margaret Uttley has done a brilliant picture of this view ... but you will have to come to the exhibition to see it.