Amgueddfa Cymru — National Museum Wales


While I enjoy going to the Youth Forum very much, I have to say a once-in-a-lifetime experience was not what I was expecting when I turned up last week. But there we were, in the art conservation room, a few feet away from an original Van Gogh, out of its frame on the next table, having just come back from being loaned to an American museum. I could have actually touched it (and I was quite tempted, though of course I didn’t).

Now, I’m not exactly an art aficionado, as you can properly tell by the way I haven’t included the name of the painting because I don’t know it, but I have to say it was pretty amazing. 

However, the focus of the meeting was actually the imposing ‘The Welsh at Mametz Wood’ by war artist Christopher Williams, which is going to be part of a new exhibition focusing on the First World War battle at Mametz in a few months time.

This is a battle where hundreds of men from the Welsh Division were killed in July 1916, and thousands more were injured, something that the painting certainly doesn’t shy away from. It’s big, bloody, and quite brutal. While war sketches of poppies blooming among the trenches and beleaguered soldiers limping through mud evoke the tragedy of the slaughter that took place, they arguably don’t capture the fighting itself, but the aftermath, the few moments of calm in a four-year storm.

Christopher Williams (1873-1934), The Welsh Division at Mametz Wood, 1916 © National Museum of Wales

Williams’ painting does the opposite. The desperate struggle of the hand-to-hand slaughter was immediately obvious. It felt almost claustrophobic, the way the soldiers were almost piling on top of each other, climbing over their fallen comrades to try and take out the machine gunner. It was certainly a world away, as we discussed, from the posters bearing Lord Kitchener encouraging young men to enlist. We also talked about the way the painting is quite beautifully composed, almost in a Renaissance style.

It was hard to look at, but at the same time it was something you wanted to look at. 

After this, we went to the archives to look at some sketches made by Williams and other artists while at the trenches. I was about to get goosebumps fro the second time that evening - one of them still had mud from the trenches staining the edges!

In any other context, 100 year old mud probably wouldn’t have been very exciting, but this mud is so strongly linked in people’s minds with images of the First World War.

Think of the trenches, and you think of mud. People slept, ate and died surrounded by this mud; it seems to be inextricably bound up with the nightmare of having to live and fight in that environment, and made looking at the sketches even more powerful.

Another document we looked at was a sort of manual given to recruits of the Royal Welsh Division, containing poems, stories and pictures that the soldiers would have submitted themselves. It was touching to see one of the ways they would have injected moments of humour into their lives as soldiers, and also their own perspectives on their experiences. All in all, I’m really looking forward to seeing how this exhibition comes together, and learning more about Mametz, a part of the war and hadn’t even heard of until a couple of weeks ago. 


Holly Morgan Davies, 

National Museum Cardiff Youth Forum



Hi Bulb Buddies,

I would like to congratulate schools that have entered flower records to the National Museum Wales website:


School Name

Average Flowering Date

Stanford in the Vale Primary School

23 Feb 2016

Broad Haven Primary School

23 Feb 2016

Ysgol Nant Y Coed

25 Feb 2016

Hakin Community Primary School

29 Feb 2016


School Name

Average Flowering Date

Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Llantrisant

31 Jan 2016

Hakin Community Primary School

5 Feb 2016

Burnside Primary School

16 Feb 2016

Ysgol Nant Y Coed

22 Feb 2016

Ysgol Gynradd Llandwrog

22 Feb 2016

Stanford in the Vale Primary School

24 Feb 2016

Broad Haven Primary School

25 Feb 2016


Watch your plants closely Bulb Buddies, you could see flowers any day now! Please remember to share your flower records on the Museum website. My last blog and the resource on the website entitled ‘keeping flower records’ give you advice on how to do this. Once all the plants have flowered and everyone has entered their flowering records, we will be able to work out the average flowering date for the Crocus and the Daffodil. We will then be able to compare our findings to those of previous years.

We had predicted that plants would flower earlier this year due to a mild December, but a colder January – March and lower sunlight hours could have impacted on our bulbs. In my next blog, I will look at averages and compare the weather so far this year to the same period in previous years.

There have been some lovely comments over the last few weeks, which have shown a lot of care and concern for your plants. I would like to say a big thank you to all of you for looking after your plants so well.

Keep up the good work Bulb Buddies.

Professor Plant

Hello. Here is what has been happening play area wise in St Fagans!

Our artists have been talking to curators and visiting our stores. They now know all about the themes covered in the new galleries and are thinking of ways in which they can incorporate them into the play area design. Some of the themes are food, work, fun - which also covers toys and games (that one might work), customs and folklore, childhood, as well as the perhaps not so appropriate - sleep and death.

We have also been talking about language - having text in the play area, maybe incorporating lullabies and sound into it (or is that too horror film?), sound, music, pigsties, beds and enclosed spaces, gates! (we have a collection of photographs of lots of different gates in the collection, all with different names) roofs! washing.... so much we could do, so many things...

Fern Thomas (supporting artist) has been managing to do research into folk remedies for her own art work - she has been looking at remedies for physical ailments from all around Wales which all seem to say 'wrap a piece of bacon round it' whatever the problem is.

Imogen Higgins (supporting artist) has started documenting all the different play areas in Cardiff and has also started blogging about it. If you know of any interesting ones, perhaps you could let us know?

I went to talk to Woodlands Special Secondary School a couple of weeks ago and some of the students there are going to help us with the design. We have our first meeting this week, so I will let you know how it goes. Meanwhile, please share, comment, and let me know stuff you've come across. Will be updating again soon.

Arkholme CE Primary School: It was so wet that we had to call off our football match on the field. The weather got a bit milder for most of the week though but our bulbs are doing very well despite the weather conditions.

Professor Plant: Hi Arkholme Primary, I’m glad to hear your plants are growing. I’m sorry you had to call off your match because of the bad weather. Ysgol Pentrefoelas also reported wet and cold weather, and had to play in their hats and scarves: Ysgol Pentrefoelas: Cawsom wythnos wlyb arwahan i ddydd Iau. Disgynnodd y tymheredd yn ystod yr wythnos ac roeddem yn chwarae yn ein capiau a sgarff!


Blackwood Primary School: We have noticed that some of the plants have been growing in the plant pots.

Professor Plant: Fantastic Bulb Buddies, keep a close eye on them and remember to read the ‘keeping flower records’ resource on the website.


East Fulton Primary School: School started back on Wednesday. Some of our plants are showing through the soil.

Professor Plant: Exciting news East Fulton. Watch them closely because they will grow quickly!

Coppull Parish Primary School: Sorry we didn't do Friday. This is the best job EVER.

Professor Plant: Thank you for letting me know and don’t worry about Friday’s data. I’m very happy to hear that you are enjoying the project! If you think that studying the Weather is the best job ever maybe you will become a Meteorologist when you are older!


St Robert's R.C Primary School: We had an INSET day on Friday 12th so we couldn't send the data. Sorry professor!

Professor Plant: Thank you for letting me know St Robert’s RC Primary. Keep up the good work Bulb Buddies.


Shakespeare Primary School: Dear Professor Plant, The temperature has actually been okay this week. But on Tuesday there was a LOT of rain wow I still cannot believe how much rain there was, can you?

Professor Plant: Wow Shakespeare Primary, you must have had some bad weather to collect a high rainfall reading! I hope this week will be dryer for you!


St. Mark's Primary School: The thermometer broke and we were trapped outside in the pouring bucketing rain on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and A refused to wear a jacket on all days.

Professor Plant: Hi St Mark’s Primary, I’m sorry to hear that you were caught in the rain. Thank you for continuing to take weather readings despite the bad weather! Have you fixed or replaced your thermometer? I hope A has started to wear a jacket – it’s been very cold!

Rougemont Junior School: The water in the measuring funnel froze. Which must mean it's getting quite chilly. We melted the ice. That was really fun.

Professor Plant: Hi Rougemont Primary, well done for remembering to take the rain fall reading after the ice had melted. I’m glad you enjoyed the experiment. Keep up the good work!


Drumpark Primary ASN School: We can see the leaves sticking out but not all of them yet.

Professor Plant: It won’t be long now Drumpark. There are some fun experiments you can try once your plants are a bit bigger, have a look at ‘Professor Plant’s investigation ideas’ on the website.


Henllys CIW Primary: We had a minus 2 reading this week brrr but it was before our recording time.

Professor Plant: I hope it starts to get warmer for you Henllys. Well done for taking your readings at the same time each day, and for also looking at how the temperature changes throughout the day. Why do you think it is colder in the mornings than it is in the afternoons?


Severn Primary: We wonder if plants can get too much rain?

Professor Plant: Hi Severn Primary, this is an interesting question! Plants can get too much water. The plant pots you are using have holes in the bottom to drain the excess water so that they don’t become water-logged. You should only water your plants when the surface of the soil is dry. If the soil is damp then your plants won’t need extra watering. Keep up the good work Bulb Buddies.


Craigbank Primary School: This week, there was snow and our plants were covered in ice. Our ice melted and we had a lot of water in our rainfall collector.

Professor Plant: Well done for letting the ice melt before taking your readings Craigbank Primary. Did you notice if the reading was higher before the ice melted or after?


Broad Haven Primary School: A really cold frosty morning on Wednesday ice on the playground. Will it affect our bulbs?

Professor Plant: Hi Broad Haven Primary. Lots of schools have reported colder weather through weeks 2-6. Frost can affect your plant. Usually, cold weather would mean that your bulbs would take longer to grow. However, because we had such a mild December your bulbs will have started growing earlier than normal and should now be sturdy enough to survive short periods of cold weather.


St. John the Baptist Primary School: J saw some flies today and says that the country is warming up and the flies are coming out of hibernation - it is much warmer today! H says it is already starting to turn spring because it has been mostly sunny this week. But, it really snowed on Saturday and some children built snowmen and went sledging but the snow melted very quickly and was away by Monday. The sun is very bright today and it made L's eyes a bit sore. R says it was boiling today compared to what it has been. Interestingly, M saw a bee in her garden this morning, it tried to land on her finger! She says it was a very big bee perhaps a queen.

Professor Plant: Wow St John the Baptist’s, what a busy week! Well done for noting changes in the weather and looking out for the first signs of spring! There are lots of early signs of spring as a result of mild weather throughout December, but the cold snaps keep reminding us that it is still winter! Hopefully the weather will start to get warmer soon!


The Blessed Sacrament Catholic Primary School: The weather this week has been variable. We have had sun, rain and snow. The plants have not needed watering but have not grown very much more. On Wednesday we found that the rain gauge had disappeared and we found it on the other side of the garden with a crack in it. We think someone had been playing with it! Fortunately, we don't think it rained that day so no results were lost.

Professor Plant: Hi The Blessed Sacrament Primary, I’m sorry to hear about your broken rain gauge! Do you need another one if it is cracked or have you already replaced it? Keep up the good work Bulb Buddies!


Ysgol Rhys Prichard: It was -6 degrees on Wednesday morning. Frost on the ground all day in the shade.

Professor Plant: My gosh Ysgol Rhys Pritchard, -6 is very cold! I see it warmed up slightly by the time you took your weather readings. Well done for checking on the thermometer throughout the day to see how the temperature changes.


Coppull Parish Primary School: Hello! This week it has been very very cold and muddy we are also training people to do the rain gauge and we are upset that were not gonna do the rain gauge any more! Thanks for the opportunity! Thanks so much from J and L!!!!

Professor Plan: I’m glad to hear you are enjoying the project J and L. Well done for taking the skills you have learnt and training other people to use the rain gauge. You really are Super Scientists!


Stanford in the Vale Primary School: What a bitter cold week! All our water butts have been frozen solid, we have had lots of fun playing with the ice we have found around the school grounds, and endless experiments!

Professor Plant: Hi Stanford in the Vale Primary. I’m glad you have been having fun despite the cold weather! I’d love to hear more about the experiments you have been doing with ice! There are lots of great weather experiments to be found on the MET Office website:


Keep up the good work Bulb Buddies!!

Hello Bulb Buddies,

An exciting number of schools have reported that their Daffodil and Crocus plants are growing. Some schools have noted that their plants look close to flowering. With that in mind it is a good time to discuss the next part of the project – flowering records! There is a resource on the Spring Bulbs for Schools website entitled ‘keeping flowering records’. This document tells you how to keep flower records, the equipment you must use and the methods for collecting information.

The resource pack sent to your school in October contained a Crocus flowering chart and a Daffodil flowering chart. You can use these to record the dates that your flowers open and the height of your plants on these dates. You can then enter your flowering date and the height of your plant on this date to the National Museum Wales website. Once the first flowering date has been entered for your school, a flower will appear on the map on the Museum website to show where your school is!

Last year some schools were confused and entered the height of their flowers weekly. You can monitor how tall your plants are growing each week and let me know in the ‘comments’ section when you enter your weekly weather records. But, the ‘flowering date’ and the height of your plant on the day it flowers are to be entered on the NMW website only once the flower has opened. 

Look at the picture of Daffodils at St Fagans National History Museum. This picture was taken on a cold day, so the flowers haven’t fully opened. But you can still tell which ones have flowered by looking closely at the picture. If you can clearly see all of the petals then your plant has flowered. Before flowering the petals are held tight in a protective casing and look like this: 

The picture to the right shows a flower bud. Once the flower has matured inside the bud (and the weather is warm enough) the casing will begin to open. This can take a few hours or a few days! If you watch your plants carefully you might see this happening! Once you can see all of your petals and the casing isn’t restricting them at all you can measure the flowers height and enter your findings on the website.

Have you compared the heights of the flowers in your class? Are there big differences in the size and maturity of the plants, or are they all very similar? What about the plants planted in the ground? Are these any bigger than the ones in your plant pots? Why do you think this is? You can let me know your thoughts in the ‘comments’ section when you enter your weekly weather records!

Once the bulbs start to grow send your stories and pictures to our bulb-blog and follow Professor Plant on Twitter

Keep up the good work Bulb Buddies!


Thank you for updating me on how your plants are doing Bulb Buddies:

Ysgol Pentrefoelas: Dim llawer o law ond yn gynnes. Aethom am dro i weld y lili wen fach yn nghoed y Foelas ac roedd miloedd yno fel carped gwyn. Dim swn am bennau ar ein bylbiau ond maent yn dechrau tyfu. 4 pot heb ddim byd yn y golwg!

The Blessed Sacrament Catholic Primary School: Not so much rain this week but some frost at night. Almost all the crocuses have shoots now.

Arkholme CE Primary School: Warmer week than usual. Rainfall was less than last week. Bulbs are growing well. Some of last year’s bulbs are flowered.

Bacup Thorn Primary School: We have noticed a real growth in our bulbs and shoots. We have also observed a faster growth in our experimental plants indoors. Our crocus bulbs are around 9cm high and dafs are around 12cm indoors and 10cms outdoors.

Maesycoed Primary: A few crocuses are popping through the surface, yay!

East Fulton Primary School: Some of our bulbs are starting to sprout.

The Blessed Sacrament Catholic Primary School: Variable weather, mostly windy with a little rain. The daffodils are growing well and 22 of the 30 crocuses are showing shoots. They still don't need watering.

Silverdale St. John's CE School: One of the daffodils has nearly opened - it might happen over the weekend!

Darran Park Primary: This week, the growth of the Spring Bulbs was 5cm. Last week it was 2.5cm, therefore it has gone up 2.5cm

Grange Primary School: We have lots of shoots appearing! Children very excited to see their first flower.

Braidwood Primary School: Still no signs at all of any growth in the bulbs planted in the ground. The bulbs in pots show some growth in the form of shoots.

The Blessed Sacrament Catholic Primary School: This week has been quite windy with rain at times; the end of storm Jonah! The bulbs still don't need watering! It is quite warm outside for this time of year. We have noticed that 2 crocuses have now got shoots and the daffodils are growing quickly. It is very exciting.

Darran Park Primary: Last week, the growth of the spring bulbs, was 1cm but it has increased by 2 cm this week, and is now, 3 cm.

Stanford in the Vale Primary School: Very windy week observed and we have 3 daffodil flowers in the ground out in flower!

Castlepark Learning Centre: The crocus are starting to appear.

Castlepark Learning Centre: The first daffodils are showing.

Arkholme CE Primary School: It was not very wet this week, mild temperatures as well. Some snow on Saturday and Sunday. Our bulbs are growing well because it is very mild weather.

Ysgol Esgob Morgan: We have had a very windy week, but the daffodils are starting to grow now. From W.

Darran Park Primary: The majority of the pots the spring bulbs have sprouted around 1-2 cm.

Drumpark Primary ASN School: We can see the leaves sticking out but not all of them yet.

Stanford in the Vale Primary School: Starting to feel like spring....