The dykes and drains of south Lincolnshire contain hidden treasures.
What at first glance look like little more than watercourses crisscrossing fields to help drain the land are actually rich in plant life.
Surveying the plants is important in terms of understanding the best habitats for them to grow, but they also reveal an important scientific outlook on our environment, providing lots of information about climate change, plant genetics as well as nature conservation.
Now, a new Heritage Lottery Fund supported project aims to inspire young people to become the botanists of the future, helping to safeguard and improve our understanding of plants and the environment.
Lincolnshire Plants – Past and Future, once it is running properly, will offer lifelong learning events and help young people develop botanical skills like plant identification, wildlife recording and the careful collection of important specimens.
The project will also fund the creation of a contemporary collection of Lincolnshire plant specimens, inspired by a collection created by 18th century Lincolnshire botanist Sir Joseph Banks.
Botanist Jeremy Fraser, who is Wildlife Sites Officer for one of the partners in the project, the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, says the south of the county has quite a few Local Wildlife Site designations, mostly connected with watercourses such as drains and rivers.
He highlighted the connecting watercourses of the River Glen and Counter Drain between Baston and Pode Hole and their connection with Vernatt’s Drain and the Welland as being important.
Jeremy said: “That inter-connected area is extremely rich in water plants.”
These included aquatic plants submerged under water, some of which might project above the water’s surface when flowering, as well as those that grow at the water’s edge but with their roots under water, plus the plants growing on the banks.
Jeremy highlighted an area between Bourne and Baston as being “one of the best places in the country” to see certain species, such as Fen pondweed and various leaved pondweed.