Monday, 26 February 2018

Botany keeps you young!

Eric on the summit of Clougha Pike
Image: Emma Greenwood
I've been reminded a couple of times in the past few weeks that even when botanists get a little older, they don't seem to slow down very much in pursuit of an interesting plant or a decent view. Could it be that botany keeps us all young? Take a look at the evidence below and see what you think...

First of all, to celebrate his 80th birthday, Emeritus Recorder for West Lancashire (VC60) Eric Greenwood, who has been a BSBI member since 1963, climbed one of England's finest hills: Clougha Pike in Lancashire. On a cold February day the mist cleared just in time to give extensive views over the Lancashire plain and Morecambe Bay.

The photograph (above right), taken by his daughter, shows Eric, author of the Flora of North Lancashire (2012) surveying his domain from the summit of Clougha Pike. This follows his illustrious predecessor, Albert Wilson, co-author of the Flora of West Lancashire (1907) who was photographed on the summit of nearby Ingleborough on his 80th birthday in 1942.


Margaret and Queenie on Cronkley Fell
Image: Tricia Snaith
Secondly, we have the redoutable Margaret Bradshaw MBE who has been a BSBI member since 1951. I was chatting to her friend Tricia Snaith about botany in Teesdale and of course Margaret's name came up - she was awarded MBE in recognition of her work to help conserve the flora of Teesdale. Margaret gave a talk on this subject at the BSBI Exhibition Meeting last November - click on the link to access the page and you can download Margaret's talk.

Tricia told me that Margaret now uses Queenie, one of Tricia's Dales ponies, to help her get up Cronkley Fell. Queenie was bred to cross this kind of terrain - she previously carried lead over the Pennines, and now she is carrying one of our most precious botanists. Tricia very kindly sent me the photograph on the left of Margaret and Queenie on the way up Cronkley Fell.

We talk a lot in BSBI about the importance of reaching out to the next generation of botanists - but what better role models could we offer them than Eric and Margaret? Let's hope they both enjoy many more years scaling the botanical heights!