Category Archives: Biography

The Unhappy Countess

I was lured into reading about the melodramatic and unhappy life of Mary Eleanor Bowes (1749–1800), by the National Trust, who said, on its website on Gibside, one of her many homes, that she was a botanist. Further investigation revealed … Continue reading

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Object of the Month: July 2020

This was going to be Object of the Month for November 2019, but various unfortunate events from a database problem up to Covid-19 have rather got in the way. However, onwards and upwards!

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Captain Gurle

I came across the name of Captain Gurle (also spelled Garle and Garrle) in the excellent Economic History of the English Garden, by Sir Roderick Floud, a really cracking book, with eye-opening figures about the importance of gardening in the … Continue reading

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Plant of the Month: June 2020

I never cease to be amazed that garden centres and nurseries actually sell seeds and plants of the Mexican fleabane, Erigeron karvinskianus. In my garden, nothing (except perhaps the dreaded pellitory) flourishes and reproduces better, and it grows best in … Continue reading

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Ruskin Relics

I came across a reference to this 1903 book last week, and was fortunate enough to find a copy (on Abebooks), which arrived a few days ago. It was presented by ‘Miss Hutchinson’ to Alexandra Hall in 1905. Alexandra Hall … Continue reading

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The Pliny of Switzerland

I vaguely knew of Conrad Gessner (often spelled Gesner) as a botanist, but it wasn’t until I was tracing the taxonomy of the bluetit a few days ago that I became aware of his wide-ranging work across the fields of … Continue reading

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Plant of the Month: April 2020

Greifswald, now in the province of Vorpommern-Mecklenburg in Germany, is one of those coastal cities in the Baltic which have always been part of the Debatable Land of north-central Europe. It is closer to Malmö and Copenhagen than to Berlin, … Continue reading

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Jonas Webb, the Southdown Man

I imagine that most people these days, if they have heard of Babraham at all, know it for the Babraham Institute, a research campus at which the nineteenth-century Babraham Hall (it had several antecedents) sits in the centre, and which, … Continue reading

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W.P. Milner

Last autumn, I wanted some new/different narcissi for my pots. (Tulips were already organised via the annual terrifying over-spend at Chelsea: many thanks, Mr Blom, they are looking wonderful!) So I went off to the local garden centre, where I … Continue reading

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Naturalists of the Three Counties

It is an article of (my) faith that the ‘Three Choirs Counties’ – Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire – are the most beautiful and amazing part of England. Imagine my delight, therefore, when I discovered quite by chance all sorts of … Continue reading

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