Plant of the Month: August 2017

Quasi-familial motives led the Hedgehog ménage to Thessaloniki recently, and a jolly time was had by all, in spite of 40 degrees C, 98% humidity, and the overwhelming nature of Greek hospitality. We had time for a little light sightseeing; and on all our travels to and from the leafy and lofty suburb where we were staying, as well as driving from the airport and back again, I noticed one particular plant which was surviving and thriving on roadsides and waste land in the extremely parched landscape. Continue reading

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Plant of the Month: July 2017

Regrets, I’ve had a few … but none so profound as for the fatal day on which I gratefully accepted a kind neighbour’s gift of a single plant of Meconopsis cambrica. Up to my oxters (whatever they are) in the stuff today, I marvelled at the foolishness of my distant youth, when – even more ignorant about horticulture than I am today – all I wanted was plants to fill my newly acquired garden, most of which had previously existed as paving and a jerry-built shed, the electric lighting to which was achieved by a cable loosely draped across the said paving, itself so badly laid that the cable mostly sat in pools of water. Continue reading

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Cats in Art

If you were to be foolish enough to Google ‘Cats in art’ (and I really don’t recommend it) you would get ‘about 37,600,000 results’ – probably more by the time you read this: and a great many would look something like the image below (courtesy of Animal Advocates Alliance). Continue reading

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Joseph Was An Old Man

… and a very old man was he, according to the Cherry-Tree Carol, at any rate. William Henry Husk points out, in his note on the carol in Songs of the Nativity, that the description of Joseph as old has no foundation in the New Testament, but only in the various apocryphal narratives of Jesus’s youth, such as the ‘Gospel of the Birth of Mary’: ‘a man named Joseph, of the house and family of David, and a person very far advanced in years’. Continue reading

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A Curious Herbal

In Modena recently, we were having a nice mooch round the Biblioteca Estense in the Palazzo dei Musei, which also houses the Galleria Estense, the Lapidario Romano, the Musei Civici di Modena, and several other collections. (A tasting session for Lambrusco was also in full swing, but at 10 o’clock in the morning we decided it would not be prudent to buy tickets.) Continue reading

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Hortus Academicus

The botanic garden in Leiden is always associated with its hugely distinguished first director, Carolus Clusius, and sure enough, his bust is the first thing you see at the entrance. I wasn’t aware, however, until our recent visit, that other plant collectors and taxonomists also had a close relationship with the garden and the city. Continue reading

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Object of the Month: June 2017

It may be stretching a point to call a small fragment of a painting an ‘object’ – the more so as the small fragment depicts two apparently living animals who may or may not have actually been alive when they were painted. But I was so struck by these particular images that I thought they deserved a bit of further investigation: so here are the Golden Age Guinea Pigs! Continue reading

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