Information: David Dickenson, a retired veterinary surgeon, has spent his last 13 summers in the Cévennes National Park in France. This mountainous area, sitting on the borders of the Atlantic and Mediterranean climates, is famed for its rich ‘alpine’ flora, including its 60 species of orchid. An elevation between 500 m and 1800 m, coupled with 3 key rock types, ensures one of the widest range of plant species in Europe. David Dickenson is an amateur botanist, benefiting from his close links with the team of the National Park, and has an intimate knowledge of the iconic species endemic to the region. He runs a web site illustrating and describing every the local plant you are likely to see (in French and English).
1. A Tour Around my Rock – The Causse Méjean is a limestone plateau fringed with dolomitic rocks, displaying dramatic forms resembling ruined villages. This vertiginous tour takes your around just one of these rocks, the size of a mini-bus, but boasting over 50 alpine species which would put shame to anybody’s rock garden. Richly illustrated, some of their survival strategies are discussed. Find out how these plants survive a scorching sun, strong winds and interminable drought. And who needs soil?
2. An Englishman in the Cévennes – enlarging on an article written for ALEPE, the local nature group in Lozère, this talk reflects on the astonishment on arrival in this wild corner of Europe, after half a decade in an England where nature has for a long time been trained and constrained into adapting to the demands of a modern society.
3. The Barmy Botanists - as founder and leader of a local botany group, the Barmy Botanists, David Dickenson has made accounts of many of these outings available for download on his site (www.naturescene.co.uk/Barmies). Although these are in French (or rather, Franglais), they are richly illustrated with the local flora, together with maps. If any of these outings intrigues you, David Dickenson can enlarge on the flora and habitat on request, and take you on a virtual tour that will make you wish you were there.
Fee: A, plus expenses. Only available for talks from late October to early April.
Equipment: I will bring my own computer, with PowerPoint presentation, but would appreciate the use of the group’s screen and projector.