Flanders Moss NNR
To live on a bog a plant has to be able to survive some very difficult conditions – waterlogging, hardly any plant food and very little nutrients so that plants that do survive there often have to have developed special adaptions. And this is what school pupils from 3 local schools (Port of Menteith Primary, Thonrhill Primary and McLaren High) have been finding out at Flanders over a couple of weeks. Did you know cotton grass has tubes to carry air to its roots? Cranberry has ways of preventing valuable minerals from evaporating from its leaves (they are hairy!)? Sphagnum has special cells that hold water to keep it damp? Some of these intricacies are being studied under the microscope back in the classroom.
But not only are the pupils getting to look and learn about these plants in detail, they then receive induction into the world of botanical illustration where plants and their bits are captured artistically for scientific purposes. Jessica Langford, a botanical illustrator takes them through the ways of studying the plants and recording what they see on paper.
Understanding the structures of these plants also is tied to how people would have used them. Polytrichum moss with its tough central fibres was used for rope making, sphagnum with its absorbency was used for nappies. Kate Sankey, a local creative botanist is showing the children some of the uses of the plants and the crafts associated.
This is a partnership project between Carse of Stirling project and Scottish Natural Heritage and is funded by the Heritage Lottery fund, Thornhill Community Trust and the Stirling Community Pride fund.
But the bit I am most excited about is that the pupils artwork that comes out of this will be exhibited at Flanders Moss NNR and West Moss-side farm gallery in June. But much more about that later.