Snow and freezing conditions don’t stop me botanising ! Over a dozen keen naturalists gathered at the Field Studies Centre at Rhyd-y-creuau, Betws-y-coed to study conifers, a much-ignored group of plants in my view. Yes, some of them are difficult to identify, but that need not be a problem. I think that many of us are afraid to be wrong, or to be unable to do something, but actually it’s fine to say, well it’s probably this species but we can’t tell without the cones (or whatever). Once you get over that, learning difficult groups of plants becomes an exciting challenge.
On the first day, we spent a full day in the lab inspecting numerous samples which the course tutors had kindly collected for us. Maybe this doesn’t sound very interesting, but in fact it was fascinating and very helpful to see similar species side by side and be able to look for the ID features without being concerned about my fingers freezing off! Once suitably informed, we set off on the second day to a really interesting site near Betws which was originally planted as an arboretum and was home to all sorts of exotica as well as the more commonly planted conifer species. Korean fir is a first for me ! It also snowed on and off throughout the day but being hardy types we only decamped to the pub for lunch rather than staying there all day… it was well worth it and I have already used the new knowledge whilst out and about in Cheshire.
The workshop was organised by the BSBI for their members – I highly recommend joining in for any botanists wanting to improve their skills or even if you just want to meet like-minded people and go to nice places 🙂