Tag Archives: botany

Object of the Month – January 2021

These Snowdrops from Littlebury in Essex are January’s ‘Object of the Month’. The snowdrops were collected by George Stacey Gibson in a meadow at Littlebury in March 1864, so these preserved plants are 156 years old.

George Stacey Gibson of Saffron Walden published the first Flora of Essex in 1862. This is an illustration of Snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis, from volume five of the Museum’s copy of his flora.

Herbarium

Specimens of these snowdrops are preserved in Saffron Walden Museum’s herbarium collection of dried plants. The herbarium contains plant specimens collected by botanists in Essex and it is now more accessible at the new museum store. The collection is an invaluable record of the plants found in this region and has been used to produce Floras for Essex and Cambridgeshire.

To preserve the plants they were pressed, dried and mounted on a paper herbarium sheet. The plant name, the location where it was found, the name of the collector and the date were written on the sheet, or a label which is fixed to the sheet. Each herbarium sheet represents a biological record of where a plant species was found at a particular time.

Flora

A Flora is a book that describes the plants that grow in a geographical area and records where they are found at a certain time. Research using the Museum herbarium has plotted how the number of plant species and the distribution of plants have changed over time because of habitat loss, changes in management of the countryside and pollution. The Museum’s copy of the Flora of Essex by George Stacey Gibson, 1862, includes so many beautiful coloured illustrations of plants from English Botany  by James Sowerby (1757-1822) that it has expanded to six volumes which are each bound in green leather.

The snowdrops were chosen by Sarah Kenyon, one of the Natural Sciences Officers at the Museum. These beautiful little plants produce their white flowers from January to March and they signify that spring is on its way. Snowdrops grow at the entrance to the Museum on Museum Street. We look forward to welcoming you back to Saffron Walden Museum later in 2021.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Images (top to bottom, left to right):

A herbarium sheet of snowdrop plants collected at Littlebury in 1864.

Snowdrop Gibson Flora. An illustration of snowdrop in the Flora of Essex by George Stacey Gibson, 1862.

The historic label for the herbarium sheet.

Introducing our brand new – Click & Collect Activity Packs

Bringing our usual holiday craft and learning activities to your home! Each pack contains all the materials you need plus exciting stories from our collections and is just £5.

Simply follow the link to order yours

https://saffron-walden-museum.arttickets.org.uk/ 

Week One: Brilliant Botanists

Learn all about the botanist George Stacey Gibson. Make your own plant press and create your own herbarium. Become a plant hunter with the plant hunter trail. Grow your own bean plant and learn about what plants need to grow!

Your pack will include:

1 x plant press kit

1 x Herbarium kit

1 x Glass jar and bean “seeds”

1 x A4 activity booklet, including instructions and plant hunter trail

5 x A5 Museum collections photographs to collect and keep

Collecting your Activity Pack

Once you have ordered your pack please email the Museum to arrange a collection slot. Do not come to the Museum without contacting us first.  Collection from outside the Museum will be available from the 17/06/2020 Tues to Fri depending on staff availability.

PLEASE NOTE: When booking, the date you select has no impact on when you collect – we just can’t get around this part of the booking system.

After you have ordered your pack please email cpratt@uttlesford.gov.uk to arrange a time to collect your pack from the Museum.

Hygiene & Corona Virus

Packs will be prepared by one member of staff wearing gloves and a face covering, and materials with hard surfaces will be wiped over. We recommend you also take your own additional precautions, especially if a member or your house hold is in the higher risk group.

The museum is closed for the time being, but remains active online…

Website: www.saffronwaldenmuseum.org      

Blog: https://exploresaffronwaldenmuseum.blogspot.com/

Email: museum@uttlesford.gov.uk

Phone: 01799 510333

Object of the Month – January 2019

The Holly and the Ivy

Holly and Ivy specimens from the herbarium collection of pressed, dried plants mounted on paper sheets. They were collected in 1864 by Joshua Clarke, a Botanist who lived at The Roos farmhouse on Debden Road, Saffron Walden with his brother Joseph. The Holly is from Stansted Mountfitchet and the Ivy was collected in Saffron Walden.

Holly is traditionally used in Christmas decorations.  Did you know that holly and ivy are also a fantastic resource for wildlife? Animals struggle to survive in winter.  Food is hard to find, days are short, the weather is cold and snow can cover the ground.  Small birds and mammals spend all the daylight hours trying to find enough food.  Deciduous trees lose their leaves in winter.  However evergreen trees keep theirs, giving shelter and nesting sites, and their berries provide welcome food.

Female Holly trees produce red berries which are eaten by blackbirds, redwings, fieldfares and song thrushes. Caterpillars of the holly blue butterfly and privet hawkmoth feed on Holly leaves. When food is scarce in autumn and winter Ivy provides nectar, pollen and high calorie black berries. They are essential food for insects, small mammals and a variety of birds.

Come to Saffron Walden Museum to see these remarkably well preserved 154 year old plants, learn more about Joshua Clarke and find out how you can help animals to survive the winter.

On display from Wednesday 2nd January 2019 until the end of the month.

 

 

Ivy, Hedera helix