Season's Greetings from the Inelegant Gardener.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Season's Greetings from the Inelegant Gardener.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
This post is an elaboration of a comment made on Baklava Shed Coalition about the accents of vegetables. Somebeans and I have long agreed that different birds speak in different accents.
Obviously, the house sparrow speaks with a cockney accent - this goes without saying. But have you considered that the starling is in fact a Brummie? Blackbirds have a soft Worcestershire accent, and song thrushes the closely related but rather more rural Herefordshire accent. Robins have a relatively neutral accent, but are generally rather cross about life.
Seagulls all speak with a German accent - I think this one is due to having watched Watership Down at an early age. Crows are rather posh. Magpies have a Black Country accent (subtley different from the Brummie starling accent). Mallards are from Norfolk, and wrens from Newcastle. I'd argue that wood pigeons come from Dorset, but Somebeans says they have 'village idiot' voices - I won't comment on that, as Somebeans is from Dorset...
However, this may not be quite as far fetched as it seems - research has found that species of birds do have regional accents (as do dolphins, frogs and cows).
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
With the Clangers, I learnt about the important things in life. Mischief, blue string pudding, dustbin lids. And environmentalism - even in the early '70s, Postgate used to compare the dirty factories on earth to the carefully nurtured environment of the Clanger's home world. I was slightly scared of the scolding soup dragon. And I shared the fears of
Small Clanger when he became lost in the caves beneath the surface of the planet - I cried as he folded his ears over his eyes, as I cried when the Hamish pincushion went back to his lost tribe in a story in Bagpuss. I'm almost welling up thinking about it now. Such are our lives shaped.
But Oliver Postgate was also a political creature. Grandson of the Labour politician George Lansbury, he was a conscientious objector, spending time in prison because of this. He continued to write political commentary up until recent years. If you're a fan, read his autobiography 'Seeing Things' - a story of a fascinating life, including when he was summoned to the head of Children's Programming at the BBC who wanted to censor The Clangers, as Major Clanger had clearly sworn.
Oliver Postgate - you will be sadly missed but cherished in the hearts of a myriad of children, both young and old.
Monday, December 08, 2008
The rose bows its head when frost comes to it, but buds sheltered from the worst of the weather will ensure there are more flowers to come before the winter festivities end.
Rosa 'Tess of the D'Urbervilles'
Rosa 'Malvern Hills'
Saturday, December 06, 2008
Friday, December 05, 2008
I’ve had a vague interest in slime moulds ever since I first heard about them. Neither fungus nor amoeba, they are strange organisms which defy classification. There are a range of different species, and can be found all over the world.
It is their life cycle which is particularly fascinating. They start off as individual, single celled organisms, which eat bacteria. When food starts to get scarce, individual cells/organisms come together into a large, multicellular ‘blob’, like a miniature slug and can travel around, albeit very slowly. When food disappears, the colony forms fruiting bodies, which release spores into the air to disperse. Some of the organisms sacrifice themselves to become a stalk, whilst others form the spores which will carry on future generations.
Why have I mentioned these on a gardening blog? Well, why not – they’re amazing organisms that few people know about. But, OK, there is a horticultural link. Some slime moulds do cause problems in the garden, for example club root in brassicas, and they can also cause concern to the keen lawn carer, who thinks that a dog has up-chucked on his sward.
Another talent of the slime mould is its ability to find its way through mazes via the shortest route. They have also been used to control the movement of robots (fantastic headline).
Since starting to write this post, I have discovered that the film ‘The Blob’ was inspired by a slime mould (although I hasten to add that there are no reported cases of humans being consumed by slime moulds). Also, for fans of Spinal Tap, apparently the DVD version has an outtake which involves slime moulds.
This website has some great photos. This site has even better ones.
This post has been brought to you by the Slime Mould Appreciation Society.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
I didn't manage to get a photo, but the above photo shows it beautifully. Venus and Jupiter were in conjunction, and the cresent of the moon esclipsed Venus briefly. As I was driving home, it looked as though the moon had a tear, like the tear of a Pierrot in negative.
I wish I knew more about astronomy, but it makes my mind boggle when I start to think about the incredible distances, and even the thought that when you see a star, you're looking back into the past. Wonderful.