Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Sand and shingle - the soft coast

The first of the habitats includes ten species that are commonly (more or less) found on many of Orkney's soft coasts - the least common is Oysterplant one of the county's flagship flowers that is really only locally common on Sanday and South Ronaldsay.

Plate 1
Oysterplant, Cleavers, Sea Rocket, Sea Campion, Curled Dock

Plate 2
Sea Sandwort, Orache sp, Silverweed, Perennial Sowthistle, Sea Mayweed

And this is how the text should look for one of the shore's prettiest flowers Sea Campion

Sea Campion (Silene uniflora)
Dead Man’s Bells, Dead Man’s Hatties, Witches’ Thimbles        
Campion family
Height to 20cm; flowers May to July. Very widespread and abundant in Orkney (25/28) and around Britain’s coasts (750/2852) but absent from most of the coastline of northeast England.

Restricted to the coast and occurring from sea level driftline to cliff top grassland, this white flowered perennial has waxy leaves and an inflated calyx. It is a sprawling plant and likely to be found cascading over shingle or tumbling down near-vertical cliff faces; the latter habit resulting in two of its vernacular names Dead Man’s Bells and Dead Man’s Hatties – so named because of the inherent danger in attempting to gather a posy. It was never picked and never brought into the house possibly to discourage children from endangering themselves on the cliffs. Because of its ability to tolerate high levels of nutrient enrichment, white cushions of Sea Campion may be abundant in seabird colonies.

Sand and shingle - the soft coast

 The Bight of Lotheran in Sanday

Sand and shingle shore - the soft coast

The Orkney Book of Wildflowers begins its journey by the sea and finishes it on the high hills of Hoy. The first chapter relates to the wildflowers of the sand and shingle shore.

Soft coasts abound on Sanday and the plate shows the shore at the Groanies with Start Point lighthouse in the background. Among the shingle and sand are typical shore plants: Sea Rocket, Curled Dock, Perennial Sowthistle, Sea Sandwort and Sea Mayweed. In among the pebbles you can pick out the grey-blue leaves of Oysterplant - a Sanday speciality

Monday, 17 January 2011

The Orkney Book of Wildflowers

The Orkney Book of Wildflowers is scheduled for publication at Christmas 2014. Tim Dean is writing the text, Anne Bignall is painting the flower and habitat plates and the Orcadian is responsible for the publishing. It will be a sister volume to the Orkney Book of Birds which appeared on the shelves in the winter of 2008 and the format for "Wildflowers" will follow that of the "Birds".

The Orkney Book of Wildflowers will feature 50 plates featuring ten different Orkney habitats and nearly 220 different plant species that occur in the county. The book begins its journey by the sea and finishes on the high hills of Hoy.

The blog will be kept up to date with photos of the plates that have been completed and examples of the text.