Category Archives: Botany

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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Plant of the Month: July 2020

The other day, I found myself standing under a Broussonetia tree in the Cambridge University Botanic Garden (so happily now reopened, though you do have to book), and was reminded of my oft-repeated note to self to find out more … Continue reading

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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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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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Quinquennium

Well, the plan was to be writing from lovely Lucca to mark the fifth anniversary of La Vita Nuova, but fate has decreed otherwise. Instead, I sit contemplating the garden, and will shortly be going with Him Indoors on a … Continue reading

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