Oct 13 2020

Are you bonkers about botany?

If there is one good thing that comes out of this year’s pandemic, it is the realisation to many that our natural world can provide tranquility and solace at times of uncertainty.  Volunteer Linda Pitkin tells us about her love of botany:


Red Hemp-nettle (Galeopsis angustifolia)
England: Surrey, Langley Vale Wood, August
© Linda Pitkin LP0474

“My husband Brian and I share our love of wild flowers and nature in general, and we belong to the Surrey Botanical Society, where we have learnt much from field meetings with more experienced botanists. It was through them that we learnt of the rare arable plants at Langley Vale Wood. Many species of arable wild flowers have declined in Britain, as modern farming methods have become increasingly incompatible for the survival of these once typical and well-loved denizens of cornfields, so it is very exciting to see a good range of them flourishing in their natural habitat. Some are very rare. It is wonderful that their presence is valued at Langley Vale Wood, and that volunteers are monitoring their distribution and abundance across the various fields.”  Linda said.


“Last summer, we stumbled upon the volunteer group on a walk and asked to join them on the spot. It has been great to be involved with like-minded people on the monitoring sessions, and to discuss identifications of plants we are less familiar with.”


Linda has had a lifelong passion for nature and wildlife.  Her professional career started in insect taxonomy at the Natural History Museum and much of her spare time was spent as an underwater photographer:

“My interest in botany developed after an early retirement from the Museum, I had more time to enjoy photographing flowers on country walks, and I took up botanical illustration too, working in watercolour. I paint all sorts of plants but I am really drawn to wild flowers.”


Lockdown provided Linda with the perfect opportunity to put paint to paper and inspired by a monitoring session last summer, the outcome was this fine art painting of a Corncockle (below).


Corncockle illustration by Linda Pitkin.

Linda’s work has been featured in The illustrated College herbal: plants from the Pharmacopoea Londinensis of 1618 (2018), and four paintings are in Botanical Illustration: The Complete Guide (2018). She was awarded a Gold medal for a series of 6 paintings: British Native Aquatic and Waterside Plants at the RHS London Botanical Art Show 2019.


You can view more of Linda’s fine art by visiting here. 


The Langley Vale Wood arable plant group are keen to inspire more specialists to get involved, if you would like to help or know anyone who might, please get in touch.


The Woodland Trust is lucky to have a wealth of skills and knowledge from all our volunteers across the region, and our arable plant group at Langley Vale Wood is no exception. It is easy for us to see why Linda is bonkers about botany!


Thank you for sharing your inspiring story with us, Linda. 

Red Hemp-nettle (Galeopsis angustifolia)
England: Surrey, Langley Vale Wood, August
© Linda Pitkin LP0474

Dwarf Spurge (Euphorbia exigua)
England: Surrey, Langley Vale Wood, Penn Field, August,
© Linda Pitkin LP0546


Lucy Shea, Volunteer Development Officer

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