Autor Beatrix Potter had a great fascination for fungi

Yellow Swamp Brittlegill, a common fungus found in the birch woods at Aberfeldy.
Yellow Swamp Brittlegill, a common fungus found in the birch woods at Aberfeldy.

This year is the 150th anniversary of the birth of celebrated author, illustrator and conservationist Beatrix Potter who lived most of her life in the Lake District where she had a large farm.

She is probably best known for her many childrens books such as The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Jerima Puddle-Duck, Squirrel Nutkin and Mrs Twiggy-Winkle, in fact she wrote about 30.

Two films were made from adaptions from her books, The Tales of Beatrix Potter and The Tailor of Gloucester, the latter is a story about a poor tailor, his cat and the mice that lived in his shop. The Royal Ballet performed The Animal Stories of Beatrix Potter.

On her farm she was interested in the breeding of the local Herdwick Sheep which she exhibited, winning many prizes and she was very much concerned about her local environment and the landscape in the Lake District and beyond. When she died in 1943 she left most of her property to The National Trust.

Beatrix was very interested in fossils and the study of plants and insects, but unknown to most people was her fascination for fungi - mushrooms and toadstools. For many years she had a summer holiday in the Highlands near Aberfeldy and spent a great deal of time searching the local countryside for fungi.

She went to great lengths to try and identify her specimens studying the spores with the aid of a microscope and she also studied the germination of fungi spores and wrote a paper on this subject.

She was rebuffed by the Director of Kew Gardens because of her sex and amateur status and when she submitted a paper on The Germination of the Spores of the Agaricineae to the Linnean Society in 1897, as a female she could not attend the Proceedings or read her paper!

She was of course acelebrated artist and her paintings of fungi are superb in detail and beauty. Her ability to illustrate the vital features which distinguish each species make her a celebrated botanical artist.

There is a collection of her fungi paintings in Ambleside and in the Perth Museum and Art Gallery.

To celebrate her work Prof.essor Roy Watling, former senior mycologists at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh will be the speaker at the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Berwickshire Group meeting in Duns on Thursday, September 1, his title is ‘What Beatrix Potter Can Teach Us About Fungi’. The meeting starts at 7.30 in Duns Parish Church Hall. Visitors are welcome.

The SWT Berwickshire Group have an evening walk to look at the trees and other wildlife at Dunglass, Cockburnspath, on Thursday, September 8, meeting at 6.30pm at the old bridge over the Dunglass Dean. NT769721 Visitors welcome.