Sunday, May 30, 2010


click photo to enlarge
In a post the other day I mentioned that I find it harder to get to a bluebell wood in Lincolnshire than I did when I lived in both Yorkshire and Lancashire. I recently spent a few days in the Yorkshire Dales, and came across a number of woods with good displays of these flowers. During my stay I managed to grab a couple of photographs, and anticipated including one in the blog. But that was before I came upon the subject of today's photograph.

Ramsons (Allium ursinum), also known to me as stinking onions and wild garlic, is a plant I've blogged about before. The star-like white flowers and broad green leaves, together with their distinctive onion-like aroma often accompany bluebells in damp woodland in May. However, this particular wood by the River Ribble near Stackhouse, North Yorkshire, was carpeted with ramsons to the almost total exclusion of bluebells, and was a quite wonderful sight. The wood itself was predominantly beech, with a few sycamore intruders, and looked to be managed. High above the leafy floor the light green leaf canopy was thickening up. But ramsons, like their bluebell brethren, are plants that take advantage of the period before the trees' leaves block the light that they need for growth and flowering, and they were at their peak as I passed by with my camera.

The leaves and bulbs of ramsons have long been used for culinary purposes. Moreover, as their name suggests, they are also a delicacy appreciated by brown bears, a species that hasn't been found in the wild in Britain for several centuries. Floral displays of massed wild flowers are not uncommon in the British Isles: on the same trip I came across rhododendrons that were beginning to fill their woods with banks of purple blossom. But it was the ramsons that really caught my eye on this trip, and I used the 16:9 aspect ratio of the camera to capture something of their extent across the wooded slope.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Lumix LX3
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 5.1mm (24mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f2
Shutter Speed: 1/40
ISO: 80
Exposure Compensation: -1.0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On