Somewhere in the French Alps

You know when someone drives you somewhere and you realise you chatted to them rather than looking where you were going?  So today I went into the French Alps on a field trip.  Luckily my phone records where photos are taken so it seems I went to the base of Aiguille de Loriaz in the Vallorcine…

Mosses to mini-mountains

A short train ride from the centre of Berlin is the 43ha Berlin BG.  It’s main draw card is the beautiful Victorian style greenhouses.  But it has more to offer including an expansive arboretum park, meadows, alpine garden (with its own mini-mountains), and a water plant collection.  My favourite is the moss garden!   The…

A castle in the forest

Ksiaz Castle (Zamek Ksiaz in Polish) is set in the Sudetan mountain beech forest. The dominant trees I saw were Quercus robur & Fagus sylvatica. Apparently there are yew trees too but I didn’t find them.  The outlook from the castle windows for 360 degrees is forest which must have been very nice for the…

An aquarium…for plants

The “Botanical Garden Of The University Of Wrocław” is a 7.4ha urban oasis in Poland’s 4th largest city.  Opening in 1811 it’s the second oldest garden in Poland (after Krakow). Like Krakow it’s set out for university teaching purposes.  The signage is wordy and probably not interesting to most visitors (even if you can speak…

The highest mountains of the Capathians

We are in the Tatras, the only alpine part of the Capathians which is in Poland (there is some snow here all year round).  There’s 12 peaks over 2000m (Mt Tongariro height). The vegetation tells the story: broadleaf forest, to conifers, shrubland then herbfield (2300m). Apparently there’s bears but thankfully/unfortunately we didn’t see them.  We…

A research garden

Botanic Gardens have a broad mandate (education, conservation, research, recreation & increasingly social and environmental purposes) and many gardens (like us) try and address the whole spectrum. Some choose to go strongly with one. If it’s a university paying the bills, like the Jagiellonian University BG of Kraków, then research is what it does.  The…

Stipa Steppe

Our conference field trip was to the steppe. The Ukrainian steppe is an almost-extinct ecosystem as it’s fertile land now converted to horticulture (I saw corn, sunflower & soy beans). What is left is fragmented. We saw 3 patches in a nine hour trip. The characteristic, and beautiful, grass is Stipa pennata. It’s also the…

Poplar snow in spring, Kyiv 

Kyiv is known as a green city and ‘the city of chestnuts’ (Aesculus hippocastanum) but right now it’s snowing poplar seed. The story goes that in 1842, in preparation of a visit for Tsar Nicholas I, they planted chestnuts down the road I am staying on.  But he didn’t like them.  So overnight they were pulled…

Joan Dingley

I read a blog recently which described several NZ women scientists as ‘invisible’. Joan Dingley was one. Of course they weren’t invisible, though actual invisibility would be pretty cool, but in recognition of Women in Science Day Siouxsie Wiles  discusses how it’s the men that took the limelight. You can read more about Joan here on page…