I counted 51 large blues on this glorious day! A warm day, a low wind until mid-afternoon, and patches of sunlight meant excellent butterfly weather, and a magnificent day to be up Collard Hill.
Visitors who spoke with me today met a very happy Butterfly Ranger. After the weekend’s wind and drizzle I was delighted to see the butterflies enjoying the warmth. As I began my first transect a flurry of marbled whites danced around me, a joyous sight.
Have you ever been to the Marianne North Gallery, a gallery dedicated to one of my favourite artists, at Kew Gardens in London? It’s an amazing place, absolutely packed with hand-painted botanical masterpieces.
Marianne North was an unconventional Victorian, she set off on exotic voyages to destinations that were considered far too dangerous for an English woman.
She never married, using her time to paint a huge array of plant portraits.
Marianne North had no formal art training but painted confidently in bold colours, using oils straight from the tube.
The Victorian tradition was to paint flowers as botanical specimens, uprooted and against a plain background.
As you can see Marianne North defied this tradition, painting her plants in their natural settings. She included native insects and birds, the background landscape, and other plants within the same habitat.
Marianne North was an ecologist painter; she gave importance to plants as part of their ecosystems rather than stand-alone species. She changed the way people thought about plants as well as creating amazing artworks in their own right.
You can browse many of her stunning artworks on the Kew Online Gallery, although it is well worth a visit to the small jam-packed gallery in London to see these fantastic paintings in real life.
I am away from Collard Hill for a couple of days now, I will post again on Thursday evening. Volunteers will be carrying out transects for me over the next two days. If the weather is as glorious as today then the hill will be splendid this week!