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Author Topic: in the Val d'Escreins at the end of June  (Read 947 times)

jonathan trustram

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in the Val d'Escreins at the end of June
« on: May 20, 2013, 03:11:15 PM »
You drive from Guillestre in the valley of the Durance (the Ecrins to the west and the Queyras to the east) along a scary narrow road above a gorge and then the Val d'Escreins opens up. The village was abandoned after a terrible fire in the early 20th century. Apart from its ruins, the only building in the valley now is the refuge of Basse Rua, a great place to stay if no one is snoring in the dormitory.
The hay meadows are rich and varied. On the edges of the woods and in rocky places grow Ononis cristata and the creeping Ononis rotundifolia,  and great clumps of Centranthus angustifolia with a humming bird hawk moth lending a mediterranean feel to this high mountain valley. Aquilegia alpina almost seems too gorgeous for such a hard place. Deeper in the woods is Pyrola - chlorantha?, Platanthera bifolia, Cephalanthera rubra and, where more sun reaches, Daphne cneorum.
And this is just the beginning....

Maggi Young

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Re: in the Val d'Escreins at the end of June
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2013, 03:19:26 PM »
If it were not for the fact that I am now imagining myself walking in the Val d'Escreins, I'd be pondering on the see-through wings of the humming bird moth..... super photos, Jonathon.
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!


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Alan_b

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Re: in the Val d'Escreins at the end of June
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2013, 04:06:48 PM »
I'm quite keen on Centranthus ruber but i don't really know Centranthus angustifolia.  Are the leaves a lot narrower?
Almost in Scotland.

jonathan trustram

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Re: in the Val d'Escreins at the end of June
« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2013, 04:14:47 PM »
A fairly easy climb up out of the Val d'Escreins leads to the Vallon de la Selette,  a hard, rocky place - limestone of many colours - which at first glance would seem to be bare of plants. But of course places like that are where the best alpines are at their best: Petrocallis pyrenaica, Geum reptans, Primula marginata (just one lovely clump still in flower), Thlaspi rotundifolium, Vitaliana primuliflora and - well, that makes five: (but there has to be one of the landscape so I'll have to cut one out.)

Or I could just do another wee post for this valley:

jonathan trustram

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Re: in the Val d'Escreins at the end of June
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2013, 04:27:39 PM »
Sorry - I don't know which gentian this is, but it looked amazing, a tiny bright blue light against the grey rock. Campanula uniflora was actually growing much lower down, in the Val d'Escreins itself, at about 18oo metres. (The vallon de la Selette is at about 2400 metres.)
Thankyou very much for the replies I had to my questions about attaching photos etc., the trouble I have with my ageing memory means I can't quite remember already which photos I've downloaded until I post them, but I think the others are Hutchinsia alpina, Saxifraga oppositifolia and - well, I might have to post this and then read it to find out....

yes of course! I just had to click on 'modify'! The fifth photo is the Vitaliana primuliflora - putting the names here so they don't just appear as captions...
« Last Edit: May 20, 2013, 04:30:29 PM by jonathan trustram »

Maggi Young

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Re: in the Val d'Escreins at the end of June
« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2013, 04:27:51 PM »
Jonathon, I have combined your two threads -  you may continue to add to this subject at your convenience..... 8)
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!


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Lori S.

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Re: in the Val d'Escreins at the end of June
« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2013, 04:44:41 PM »
It's lovely to see mountain flowers again - thanks for posting your photos!
I wonder what species the campanula would be (not C. uniflora which is quite different)?
Lori
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Alan_b

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Re: in the Val d'Escreins at the end of June
« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2013, 04:52:31 PM »
Or not http://www.srgc.net/forum/index.php?topic=10497.0 .


Edit by maggI : Alan, this link isn't valid.... :-\
« Last Edit: May 28, 2013, 02:12:40 PM by Maggi Young »
Almost in Scotland.

jonathan trustram

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Re: in the Val d'Escreins at the end of June
« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2013, 05:18:22 PM »
thanks! Yes, it's alpestris, (=allionii, apparently)

jonathan trustram

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Re: in the Val d'Escreins at the end of June
« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2013, 07:34:57 PM »
Another walk led up to a steep, bare, hot, dry ridge, the Crete de Vars, where I wasn't surprised to find Berardia subacaulis, which looks like a plant from the desert:399903-0
I love that plant - it's the only representative of its genus in Europe, and so easy even for me to identify.
But before that, one advantage of a bad night in the refuge is that you're keen to get up and out early, so I got to a beautiful, lush slope just above the forest in time to see the helianthemums open in the morning sun:
399905-1
And is this Erysimum decumbens? One of those plants with an extravagant beauty which seems to defy its stony surroundings:
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Inconspicuous among a wealth of more showy flowers was the frog orchid:
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Then you come to a little rocky summit from where the land falls away gently to another valley, beyond which rises the Crete de Vars. The flora changes with the landscape. There are masses of silver saxifrages, Onobrychis montana, Dianthus sylvestris, Aster alpinus and more helianthemums.   Tasteful gardeners say you shouldn't mix pink and yellow, but it makes for excitement in the mountains. Sylvestris seems an odd name for that dianthus; at least in this area it isn't at all sylvan, growing only in full sun.
399911-4

jonathan trustram

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Re: in the Val d'Escreins at the end of June
« Reply #10 on: May 20, 2013, 08:50:30 PM »
Here I sat in the sun for a while before it grew too hot:399949-0
And then across the little valley where there grew a beautiful astragalus - I love them but find them so hard to identify - is it depressus?
399951-1
Near the ridge appeared the beautifully fragrant Daphne cneorum again:
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You can see right across the deep valley of the Durance to the high peaks of the Ecrins:
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But it was a relief to come to the end of the ridge, although lots of other little alpines cling to the rocks - I think the sun and lack of sleep were telling -  and go down into the green shade of the forest again, where a Clematis alpina was still in flower, with just two pale blue bells:
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This was an amazing little circuit. One of the fitness freaks you meet in the alps would do it in about three hours. Stopping to look at everything,and going slowly anyway, it took me ten. Back at the refuge, the snorer had moved on, and I had a good meal and a great night's sleep.

jonathan trustram

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Re: in the Val d'Escreins at the end of June
« Reply #11 on: May 28, 2013, 02:03:36 PM »
hello Alan B - sorry not to reply before.Yes, Centranthus angustifolia has needle like leaves. And I didn't get your other comment - I clicked on that link and nothing happened....
Jonathan

 


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