Saturday, 5 October 2013

Roses Workshop, September 2013

Kate Thorne offered this taxonomic training workshop as part of the BSBI's annual programme of meetings, which are advertised nationally. Members of the Society are welcome to attend free and learn from experts at events which would be quite expensive if they were run, for example, by the Field Studies Council.  They are designed for all levels from complete beginners to vice-county recorders [VCRs]. Last year a Sedge training day was attended by at least four VCRs - and another meeting was designed to introduce people newly interested in botany to the important plant families of Britain

Ruth's amazing rose-petal cake
Kate has cultivated a wide variety of native roses in her garden in rural Shropshire, so we were able to see them "in captivity" before we went out to see them in the wild.  The day started with a small group - just six of us - enjoying coffee in Kate's farmhouse kitchen before we got down to work, with remarkable cakes, appropriately decorated by the creative Ruth Dawes with rose-petal icing!

Roses in Kate's garden

We looked at the three main groups within the genus, Dog Roses, Downy Roses and Sweet Briars, and the characters which separated them.  That made it so much easier to assign them to species - as with many groups it is much easier to recognise the salient features when all the extraneous information is cut away. We also discussed the complex, asymmetric reproduction of hybrid roses, in which the seed parent often provides four-fifths of the genetic material as against the pollen parent.

Rose identification near the Stiperstones
After seeing the plants in Kate's garden we went off to look at roses in several sites near the Stiperstones, and were able to practise our new knowledge. It's such a lovely area - and we finished off with a splendid tea at The Bog Visitor Centre, which is "a gas-lit Victorian former school..... one of the few remaining buildings of a lost lead and barytes-mining village." Their cakes were superb and sent us home well-satisfied with our day.

Thanks to Ruth Dawes for all the photographs

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