A hunt for elusive moonwort inspired by my sister-in-Law.
Last weekend saw us make our way to our friend Rachel's cottage in Whitchurch Canonicorum in Dorset, a beautiful thatched cottage.
We met our Brother-in-Law and our 6 year old nephew there. We had all met up because Rachel had struck up a friendly rivalry wih my sister-in-Law Helen, both trying to be the first to find all of Britians ferns. It had been a tit for tat match with both scoring firsts equally. Moonwort had eluded both of them and remained the last of the ferns to be found. Sadly Helen lost her fight with cancer on Mothering Sunday and in the last weeks of Helens life she and Rachel had again spoken about the fern- which spurred Rachel on to try and find it for Helen- sadly time ran out.
Rachel took a lock of Helens hair and made a farwell promise to find it on her behalf. Armed with "inside" information she invited us to help her find it in a secret location in Somerset. We set off on Saturday morninig meeting up with another of Helen's friends, Ali at the site. The weather couldn't have been kinder as we struck out from the car park to begin our search. And we had successs too! Rather fittingly my partner and Helen's sister was the first to spot the Moonwort, with Ali seconds behind with another bigger specimen. Further inspection revealed quite a few more plants all with in a very small area. I had planned to make an engraving of the fern and proceeded to sketch from life to prepare for the engraving I hoped to complete that evening.
Once I had finished the sketch, to the north of where I was sitting was this lone scots pine, so in the blazing sunshine I sketched until I felt the sun beginning to burn the back of my neck.
Rachel wove Helens hair around some handsome long stalks of grass and laid it next to the Moonwort. It was a truly lovely, positive thing to do. We where all inspired to come together to find this incredible plant by Helen. And with my children and their young nephew, hopefully the passion and interest Helen had for Eclology and conservation is further reinforced in them.
I of course managed to engrave the Moonwort on a tiny block, helped by some lovely Dorset cider- I've printed a very limited edition and will ensure all those invovled in the hunt will have a copy.
Before heading for home on Sunday I poped out and drew the view from the rear of Rachel (and Marks) cottage