Sunday, April 26, 2009

Mountain pansies





















We made the long, steep, breathless climb up the northern fellside from St.John’s Chapel today, almost to the top of Black Hill. The views back across Weardale to Chapel Fell were stunning, we were accompanied by the bubbling calls of curlews during most of the ascent and as an added bonus heard our first cuckoo of spring in a pine plantation, about 500 metres above sea level. There are plenty of nesting meadow pipits on these fells for it to parasitise. Apart from bird song, the only sound when you reach the top is the wind. Otherwise, silence. But the purpose of the climb wasn’t to admire the views, seek solitude or listen to the birds, but to see if the first mountain pansies were in flower. And they were. It’s hard to imagine a bleaker landscape than the tops of these fells, where most of the vegetation is still brown and withered after a hard winter, but from mid-April onwards thousands of these delightful flowers decorate the short turf wherever there is a little shelter, turning it into a natural rock garden. Currently they are just about the only flowers in bloom at this altitude. Search amongst them and you can find every flower colour, from deep purple through yellow to pure white, sometimes with all three colours on different petals of a single flower. Well worth the climb.

7 comments:

  1. Beautiful scenery and gorgeous mountain pansies.

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  2. They are stunning, and you've captured them beautifully. Certainly worth the climb.

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  3. Thanks to you both, Midmarsh John and holdingmoments. Next week I'm planning to make the annual pilgrimage to the fells of Upper Teesdale, where the spring gentians should be in flower.

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  4. Why, I wonder, such variation in colour? Pansies do it but dandelions don't.

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  5. Why,I wonder,such variation in colour? Pansies do it but dandelions don't.

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  6. Not sure why they are so variable, Nyctalus, but it might be something to do with the fact that they're cross pollinated (I've often seen bees visiting the flowers) so they are genetically very variable. Dandelions always self-pollinate, even though the flowers are visited by insects, so they tend be be genetically uniform. But I do wonder whether the differences in colour in the pansies affects their visibility to bees, and whether they are all equally attractive to pollinators.Thanks for your comment - interesting question!

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  7. Every body is wondering why all the colours.
    its the cuckoo. its been laying its seeds in the bed, nice shots of pansies where does the cuckoo come in.

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