Ramblings from My Garden

Helen Laidlow Ken and Lynda Dinneen are Lapidary Artists and Rock Hounds

Ken is a Lapidary, Lynda has taught Jewellery Design, Silversmithing and Lapidary Art, as well leading many mining and Rock Hounding tours in and around the western United States.

Ken and Lynda work from their studio on the east flank of the Central Oregon Cascade Mountains in Sisters, Oregon.


Did you know that the science of *Paleoecology was founded right here in the UK? No? Well, it so happens that in 1821 some very unusual trace fossils were found littering a cave, the Kirkland Cave in Yorkshire and it was this discovery that led to the

beginning of one fascinating branch of Paleontology. You see, the cave floor was strewn with fossilized bones... very large bones, actually the bones of elephants, mammoths, hippos, and rhinos. Now the interesting thing, was that these bones had been chewed and chewed hard.

There on the cave floor was the rest of the story!

Scattered amongst the bones were pieces of scat, coprolite, you know….

department of William Buckland who identified the mammoth bones and recognized the fossil coprolite as being very familiar to him. What! Well, turns out he had a pet hyena and the scat looked very like hyena poo in shape size and color to the good Professor.

Hyena mandible

A colleague was chatting about her garden the other day, about how little progress they were making with planting because she and her husband couldn’t agree on what to plant where. It occurred to me that this has NEVER happened to me – EVER!

My garden is mine all mine and that’s the way it’s been for the last 25 years! Mr. L is happy to sit in the garden but has no interest whatsoever in what’s planted there – and I’m very happy to keep it that way. For me, there’s no negotiating to be done and I get to make amazing plans all winter with no compromises and tinker away all summer in my little haven. I know it might seem a bit selfish, but I’m more than happy to mow the lawns (he hasn’t done it once in 25 years), dig over the veg patch, water for hours – because for me it’s worth it, as it means my selfish ways can continue.

Exploring Kirkdale Cave

Long story short, not only did the good Professor identify the bones and scat correctly along with the purpose of the cave, (a hyena den) but along the way founded the science of Paleoecology.

The UK strikes again…. Brilliant!

fossilized poo (above).

Fossil Coprolite

Hyena poo! In the poo, were bits of the bones of many animals. Well, for goodness sake… right here was the whole story or at least a good part of it.

Today, the Kirkdale Cave is a site of the Geological Conservation Review. Did you know that there are over 3,000 such sites in the UK? Once again, there are so many reasons to keep looking down! Well, in the case of Kirkland, that would be up, since the cave entrance is above eye level... I guess my best advice is to stay curious.

Don’t’ get me wrong, he can be persuaded to visit other gardens with me but he’s never going to gush about Cornus kousa ‘Norman Hadden’ which I am besotted with and admired greatly at Lowther Castle recently. Nor will he be prepared to deliberate between Astrantia major ‘Gill Richardson’ or Astrantia major ‘Rubystar’ - it’s the subtleties of their ruby wine colouring – which one to buy? That’s the price I’m prepared to pay, for it would be foolish to risk igniting a glimmer of interest and before you know it he wants his own section of the garden!

I’ll just keep my garden and all the planting choices to myself, thank you very much.

Helen’s July Stunners

Any Astrantia looks fabulous at this time of year but be sure to give them some shade or regular watering, as they won’t cope well in a hot, dry position.

Cornus kousa come into their own in June and in July, their flowers look just as good as their petals fade in colour. It’s great to get a summer flowering tree in your garden, as well as the extra interest of their amazing strawberry-like fruits later in the year.

4' mammoth tibia bone - see left Mammoth showing bone position

Now back in the mists of time, (that would be around 125,000 years ago) African megafauna, (that word simply refers to big animals like bears and elephants) roamed the Yorkshire area in the time between the ice ages. Well, I am jumping ahead of myself... let’s back up a bit.

Sooooo, these very old, old bones made their way to Oxford University and landed in the


*Paleoecology is the study of interactions between organisms and/or interactions between organisms and their environments across geologic timescales.

The study of who did what to whom and when can be fascinating and highly entertaining. Until next time... Happy Hounding!

Lynda Dinneen

Rosa ‘Blush Noisette’ is a reliable climber with masses of pale pink blooms providing a lovely scent throughout summer. It doesn’t get too tall, so it’s great for a fence rather than a tall building.

I have a swathe of Lavender Hidcote and Munstead bordering my path up to the front door and it’s just beginning to look and smell stunning.

Helen ISSUE 427 | 19 JULY 2018 | 18

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