Before becoming one of the leading botanical illustrators in Europe she was in turn a photographer, actress, wartime Red Cross nurse and ambulance driver, and with her husband Philip ran a Cornish dairy farm for 20 years. They sold the farm in 1968 to make field botany and painting a new career.
The most successful writer of natural history field guides in Europe. He has a lifetime of field experience.
Alastair drew the maps. He is Richard's younger son, and Professor of Biology at the University of York. In September 2003 he will become President of the British Ecological Society.
Sample from the book:
Cranesbills Geranium. All except Shining Cranesbill (p. 176), conspicuously hairy or downy. Flowers 5-petalled, divided below by size. Distinguished from storksbills (p. 178) by their toothed and palmately lobed leaves, usually deeply cut to more than half-way. Fruit with five segments curling upwards from the base when ripe and ending in a long pointed beak, the cranes bill. Only the most frequent of the 15 or more naturalised species and hybrids are described below, divided into large, medium, and small flowers (p. 176).
Flowers large, 20mm or more across
1 Meadow Cranesbill. Geranium pratense. A most handsome medium/tall perennial, stems long-hairy, often reddish, to 1m. Flowers a soft violet blue, petals not notched, 25- 30mm; June-Sept. Leaves 7-9-lobed, cut almost to base. Fruit stalks bent down when ripe.
Grassland on lime, mainly in the lowlands, especially the Cotswold road verges. Numerous cultivars, hybrids and similar species are liable to escape, the most frequent being 1a Purple Cranesbill G. o magnificum, whose slightly larger, more purplish flowers have
notched petals; leaves less deeply cut.
2 Wood Cranesbill Geranium sylvaticum. Much like Meadow Cranesbill (1), near which it may grow in N England, but has rather smaller, mauver and less blue flowers, the petals sometimes slightly notched; June-August; stems to 75cm, leaves less deeply cut and fruit stalks erect when ripe. Open woods, hedge-banks, upland meadows, moors, mountain
3 Bloody Cranesbill Geranium sanguineum. A showy, clump-forming short perennial, to 40cm. Flowers bright red-purple (sometimes pink on Walney I, Cumbria), 25-30mm; May-August. Leaves small, 5-7-lobed, narrowly and sharply cut. Dry grassland, dunes,
rocks, mainly on limy soils; also a widespread garden escape.
4 French Cranesbill Geranium endressii. Short/medium perennial, to 60cm. Flowers
deep salmon-pink, the veins darkening as they fade, 24-28mm; May-August. Leaves broadly 5-lobed. A frequent garden escape. Its hybrid with Pencilled Cranesbill (5), G. o oxonianum, is very similar, with flowers deep to pale pink, the veins often conspicuous,
and no ripe fruits; may be commoner than French Cranesbill.
5 Pencilled Cranesbill Geranium versicolor is quite distinct from both French Cranesbill (4) and the hybrid (as well as all other native or escaped cranesbills), having flowers white or very pale lilac, with purple veins; leaves less deeply cut.Aless frequent garden escape.
Flowers medium, 10-20mm across
6 Herb Robert Geranium robertianum. A strong-smelling short/medium hairy annual, with stems often reddish, to 50cm. Flowers clear deep pink, occasionally white, petals not notched, pollen orange; 14-18mm; Apr-Nov. Leaves 3/5-lobed. Fruits slightly ridged. Woods, hedge- and other banks, shingle (when may be prostrate and hairless), mountain screes.
7 Little Robin Geranium purpureum. Often taller and greener than Herb Robert (6), of which it may be a subspecies, with smaller (7-14mm) flowers, yellow pollen, more narrowly cut leaves and more conspicuously ridged fruits. Dry, often limy banks, shingle (when often prostrate) and cliffs by the sea.
Petals deeply notched:
Hedgerow, Dovesfoot, Small-flowered, Cut-leaved
Purple, Wood, Bloody, French, Pencilled, Round-leaved,
Long-stalked, not notched:
Meadow, Wood, Herb Robert, Little Robin, Shining,