Saturday, 11 August 2012

Book leaving questions.

Dalrymple: City of Djinns is definitely mind improving, full of fascinating facts for QI fans. I find his style a bit plodding, hard to get as excited as one should discovering things like Maya ( standard software for producing virtual buildings) being the Gods’ architect in the Mahabharata (Mulciber, fallen angel then death-eater, was the architect of Hell in Paradise Lost). The snippets about eunuchs, familiar to anyone who’s travelled in India, are interesting, but he never explains why so many, & why nowhere else in the world. Are they castrated at birth as it’s a lucrative way of live? Or are there masses in the rest of the world, hiding their secret? A must for anyone visiting Delhi with a serious interest in history.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Maxi&Mini, beautiful pests! Hopeful.

A heavy duty gardening day today, so sunny I had to keep my camera close, spiders are so satisfying to photograph when they're busy, so many bits to look at, when they work I love the pictures.

Spiders please me as I imagine them to be sitting there feasting on creatures that bite me or eat my best plants, not so snails, but they're sort of intriguing  in a gruesome sort of way, certainly survivors.

Butterflies are a real dilemma! I love them until I think what damage the caterpillars do, gooseberries totally stripped of leave for the last three years. This Brimstone looks so innocent.

Finally, my cucumber really looks good, will be yummy with crimson basil, but I might have to wait a while for the tomatoes.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012


The canal is full of surprises, a terrapin the other day, and again yesterday. Today, on the way back from a celebration lunch in town (NO alcohol, L&A both driving later)  a cluster of broadleaved helleborines: orchids to the less geeky! We must have walked past then a dozen times in the last month, how did I miss them? One was over 2 feet tall. I'm sure they haven't been here for all the 30 years we have. A UK first for me, although I saw them in France a couple of years ago.

The characteristic feature is the large bract at the base of the ovary. The colour is anything from green to purple, and according to Harrap&Harrap "...nowhere is too stumble upon rather than search for..." It's said to be common in inner Glasgow, what a little gem!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Bit Late, Unusual House Plant

The strange weather has produced a late crop of moor-hen chicks, sweet and fluffy but have they got time to grow up before the inevitable winter?

This little treasure sprouted in a house plant pot decades ago, I have no idea where from, and it was many years before I identified it, in a display at the Chelsea Flower Show as a rare specimen. It's very easy to grow, decorative with exuberant near fluorescent green stem-leaves, and understated flowers, tidily dies back to bulbs for the winter. It should be featured in the RHS magazine's "Plants that should be better known"  feature. It's called Bowiea volubilis, would be nice to think David Bowie was related, but of course that's not his real name!

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Success? Success!

Regular followers might remember excitement last year over embryonic cucumbers, what I didn't post though, was that unlike Clare(3BT)'s they all rotted before even becoming teenage, let alone grown up enough for salad. I'm not really counting, but the bigger one looks hopeful.

For the wild flower geeks amongst us, the common under-appreciated teasel is a big success story, remember when every gift shop was filled with little teasel hedgehogs, and the real plant only safe on dangerous motorway verges? I'm sure lots of you have noticed how many more are growing with pride in more accessible places, including my garden. Apart from being a little spiky, they're wonderful creatures, robust,  add what the garden designers glorify as "an architectural element" i.e. they're tall and have the unusual habit of the florets opening from the middle, spreading up and down in 2 lilac bands. The leaf bases have little ponds, an interesting place to hunt for creepy-crawlies, I've yet to find frogs like some or the tropical Bromeliads. They provide nectar for our bees and seeds for shy goldcrests, I'm still hoping to photograph them.