A tale of mushrooms and furry friends

Once, more than a hundred years ago, there was a girl called Helen Potter. When she was young she painted pictures of her many pets. She loved to go exploring in the countryside around her home and on holidays in Britain and discover things about nature, and she loved to paint what she saw.

When she was a young woman, Helen was fascinated by mushrooms and other types of fungus. She liked to paint beautiful pictures of them and learn about them. She learnt how to use a microscope to look very closely at her mushrooms and discover how they grew. Her paintings are so life-like that they’re used by scientists who study mushrooms.

Cep mushroom. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/. Attribution: © Hans Hillewaert

Helen went on to write children’s stories and paint the pictures for them. This is what she’s most famous for. She used the money she made from these books to buy land in the Lake District of England so the wildlife she loved so much could be protected.

My favourite story is The Tale of Samuel Whiskers or the Roly-Poly Pudding, because it’s a bit scary, and because Tom Kitten found the hidden passageways in the house. Helen Beatrix Potter is best known as Beatrix Potter. She wrote about Peter Rabbit, Squirrel Nutkin and other furry and feathery friends.

Let’s go exploring – toadstools

Do you wish you could go exploring?

You can! Wherever you live, if you look around you there’s something interesting waiting to be found.

I didn’t have to go far for this beautiful fairy toadstool – it was outside my house.

Another name for it when it’s not in a storybook is a fly mushroom or fly agaric. Like other living things it also has a proper scientific name (Amanita musca).

There are spores (they’re like toadstool seeds) under that umbrella so I’m hoping I’ll get more fairy toadstools in the garden.

Toadstools and mushrooms come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Lots of them are poisonous, so you should never eat one you’ve found growing unless you know it’s safe.

What will you find when you go exploring?