John W Blanchard's 'Spanish Diary 1986' revisited

by Matthew Topsfield in Andalucía

John W Blanchard's 'Spanish Diary 1986' revisited
We did it
On 28th January 2016 we successfully raised £630 with 23 supporters in 56 days

Recreating John Blanchard's trip to central-southern Spain thirty years on to study the occurrence of Narcissus species in wild habitats.

by Matthew Topsfield in Andalucía

New stretch target

I am very grateful to everyone who has helped me to achieve my initial fundraising target. In addition to the pledges, the support and encouragement I have received is greatly valued. Knowing that people believe in my project I am setting a 'stretch target', which will help me to deliver the project outcomes more effectively. I have added further rewards that will enable the information I gather to be shared more widely through additional talks to more SRGC local groups. Additional funding will also mean that I will be able to work more effectively in the field, i.e. in the event of bad weather I will have the option to find accommodation, rather than relying on my tent. Your support is much appreciated and I look forward to sharing the results of my work. Thank you!


In March 1986 the world-renowned Narcissus expert, John Blanchard undertook a botanical study trip to south eastern Spain. He visited a number of locations throughout Andalucía and Castilla-La Mancha with the aim of finding Narcissus species in the wild. His trip was detailed in the RHS Daffodil Yearbook 1986-1987. It was whilst using the Lindley Library at Wisley that I accidentally stumbled across his article and the seeds of an idea for a research project germinated.

In March 2016, I will use Blanchard's detailed article to revisit the same sites that he was at some thirty years before me, to review the occurrence of Narcissus species in their wild habitats. I will visit the specified sites during the same time frame as Blanchard's own trip (end of March), seeking out the species and natural hybrids that John Blanchard was looking for and found as well as collecting my own, incidental records of other species at those sites and along the way.

The Iberian peninsula is the centre of diversity for Narcissus species, many of which are increasingly facing pressure from both natural (climate change) and anthropogenic (development and land-use change) impacts. They are also a fast-evolving group with many naturally occurring hybrids, sometimes leading to the formation of new species. This project will generate valuable new data on Narcissus species and hybrids in the wild and review the fortunes of known populations (for good or ill) over the intervening thirty years.

Whilst this research project is planned to be carried out on a minimal budget (expenditure is limited to travel, accommodation and two pieces of essential equipment - a tripod and GPS), I am unable to meet the total costs of this trip wholly from my own pocket. Unfortunately, the application window for the Scottish Rock Garden Club's Exploration Fund 2015/16 has passed and the next panel will not convene until after this project must be undertaken. Therefore, I am seeking the support of like-minded "Narcissus nuts" who would like to help increase our understanding of these beautiful plants. Your pledge, of any value, will be a greatly valued contribution to this research project and will allow the knowledge gained to be shared with a wider audience.

The outputs of this research project will include articles to be published in the SRGC journals 'The Rock Garden' and 'International Rock Gardener', a series of lectures and a detailed report of the findings from this research project.

You can find out more about the SRGC, including access to a huge amount of freely accessible information at: www.srgc.net

 

Blanchard's 1986 article                                                      Cover of Blanchard's great opus

     

 

 

 

  

Some of the Narcissus species Blanchard found on his trip include:

Narcissus (bulbocodium) nivalis

Narcissus cantabricus (shown here is the tenuous North African ssp. tanaicus)

 Narcissus jonquilla ssp. henriquesii (this is the cultivated selection 'Twinkling Yellow')

Hybrids between bulbocodium and triandrus (this is Rannveig Wallis' hybrid 'Solveig's Song')

Narcissus hedraeanthus ex Cazorla (one of the locations to be visited)

Forms of Narcissus bulbocodium

Narcissus fernandesii 

All plants shown above are from cultivated sources and are growing in my own collection.

 

Rewards

This project offers rewards in return for your donation.

£10 or more

£10 Reward

A big thank you for believing in my project! You will be helping to increase understanding and share new knowledge about these beautiful plants. 1. You will receive a personal notification when a photo-rich supplement about this trip is published in the SRGC's 'International Rock Gardener'.

£20 or more

£20 Reward

A big thank you for believing in my project! You will be helping to increase understanding and share new knowledge about these beautiful plants. 1. You will receive a personal notification when a photo-rich supplement about this trip is published in the SRGC's 'International Rock Gardener'. 2. You will receive a copy of the report detailing the full findings from this trip (July 2016).

£50 or more

3 of 5 claimed

£50 Reward

A big thank you for believing in my project! You will be helping to increase understanding and share new knowledge about these beautiful plants. 1. You will receive a personal notification when a photo-rich supplement about this trip is published in the SRGC's 'International Rock Gardener'. 2. You will receive a copy of the report detailing the full findings from this trip (July 2016). 3. In addition, SRGC Members / Local Groups can receive a lecture about this trip for their Local Group's lecture programme (autumn / winter 2016/17).

£75 or more

2 of 2 claimed

£75 Reward

A big thank you for believing in my project! You will be helping to increase understanding and share new knowledge about these beautiful plants. 1. You will receive a personal notification when a photo-rich supplement about this trip is published in the SRGC's 'International Rock Gardener'. 2. You will receive a copy of the report detailing the full findings from this trip (July 2016). 3. In addition, SRGC Members / Local Groups can receive a lecture about this trip for their Local Group's lecture programme (autumn / winter 2016/17). 4. You will also receive from my own collection 5 flowering-size bulbs each of Narcissus fernandesii and Narcissus 'Solveig's Song', a stunning bulbocodium x triandrus hybrid bred by Rannveig Wallis (July 2016, within EU only).


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