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Showing posts from January, 2015

Some like it hot

By Helen RobertsWith the dismal wet wintry weather prevailing in the UK at this time of year, most people look forward to the return of warm long days, evenings outside and picnics on the beach. Things can look a little dreary and dull in people’s gardens at the moment, before the arrival of spring and its profusion of bulbs and other spring flowers. The Mediterranean collection at the University of Bristol Botanic Gardens helps to remind me of summer sun and balmy places.
Maquis: scrubland vegetation of the Mediterranean
The Mediterranean Basin of Europe and North Africa displayshows examples from different vegetation biomes; the collection includes evergreen forest, maquis or macchie and garique. Many of the highly aromatic and fragrant plants are associated with maquis vegetation. The maquis biome, which often includes leathery broadleaves, evergreen shrubs and small trees, usually occurs on the lower slopes of mountains bordering the Mediterranean Sea.
The climate of the maquis bio…

A walk through the mendips

By Helen RobertsA few weeks ago our family, had a great day out walking on the Mendip Hills. We set off in autumn sunshine, through pretty deciduous woodland, to an Iron Age hill fort called Dolebury Warren - an upland area of calcareous grassland. Having lived on the edge of the Mendips during my childhood, I am always keen to show my children where I used to explore as a youngster.
The Mendips are a range of mainly carboniferous limestone hills comprised of at least four convex fold structures formed between 363 and 325 million years ago, during the end of the Carboniferous Period. Weathering of the limestone has resulted in features including gorges, dry valleys, screes and swallets (sink-holes) and incorporates the famous Cheddar Gorge and Burrington Combe, each with extensive cave systems. The area also has interesting landscape characteristics like limestone pavements and other karst structures.
The geology of the Mendips makes for interesting ecological communities and consists …