Monday, 6 May 2013

Botany for Beginners.

The first module of the University of Leicester Botanic Garden's new botany course started on Saturday at Attenborough Arboretum, with a tuition session. Five beginner botanists tried out a range of botanical equipment (handlenses, wildflower keys) on some wildflowers of woodland and glade, both in situ and from specimens we had collected earlier. One thing we looked at was bluebells, and how to tell the native and Spanish bluebells apart. There's also a piece about this on the Plantlife Blog here  

The five students are now on our mailing list and will be invited along to local botanical meetings - they are all really nice, as botanists tend to be(!) and I know we will all enjoy sharing our botanical expertise and passing on ID tips - and so will the eight students booked onto the second module. 

Beginner Botanists learning field ID skills,
Attenborough Arboretum, May 2013
Photo: R. Parry
More info about the course here - you can still sign up for any individual module and none is fully booked yet, although enough people have signed up already that we have just about met our minimum attendance requirements for the entire course, so it will run right through to September, finishing shortly before the Plant ID course starts up again.

The 'Botany for Beginners' package is only viable because of the contributions of so many local botanists who are supporting the course by coming along to one of the 5 field ID sessions (the first one is next Sunday at Cloud Wood). If there is a date on the flyer here when you might be free to join us, please email me - the more of you the merrier! If we could achieve a 1:1 ratio of student to local botanist, that would really help people get going with field botany and start to feel more confident. 

A big thank you to all of you who have already offered to come along and especially to four people (and their support teams) without whose huge (unpaid) contributions, 'Botany for Beginners' would never have got off the ground:
Dr Richard Gornall who initiated, guided and oversaw the entire caboodle, and his team at University of Leicester Botanic Garden - Ruth and Jenny have been incredibly helpful in so many ways. 
Co-tutor Russell Parry, who contributed so much time and energy in prep for the session and then helped beginner botanists work through keys for the first time - many thanks to Russell and his fabulous "support team" aka Jennie Parry. 
Mike Jeeves (on whose Flora the selection of species is based) and Beverley Heath, Neill Talbot, Andy Lear and Uta Hamzaoui at LRWT for all their help and support. 
Dave Nicholls and his team at NatureSpot - great to see three of you (and two wives!) at Croft Hill on Friday :-)   

Thank you all for supporting beginner botanists in VC55.


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