Older garden varieties and the knowledge inherent seems doomed ?

I don’t know if some words were altered and even the original Daily Telegraph copy leaves something to be desired in how it reports the impending possible/ probable loss of a great variety of horticultural material, ie bred named forms, diversity,  varieties treasured, things kept going for generations, the product of clever hands and minds. In other words anything that is produced for a ‘mass market’ seems to be squeezing other more knowledgable specialist approaches. I found the article via MSN and clicked to the Telegraph original. It certainly could be better worded, to be clearer, to make the point far better; the loss of specialist growers and the lack of younger people to take on such a precarious business with often a low financial reward. Reads as if the writer possibly had no real understanding of the subject.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/05/17/british-rose-snowdrop-risk-extinction-42-per-cent-nurseries/

What they really meant is the nationwide network of SPECIALIST ENTHUSIAST plant nurseries is declining. The prospective not particulary knowledgeable or even totally unknowledgeable customer finds it easier to go to the big commercial garden centres where its often bought-in and all designed to sell and sell quickly. I can appreciate that position. That is good news in avoiding pot bound con-jobs, worst case recently was my unknowingly bought a £30 shrub from an unknowledgable so-called garden centre (non-specialist) ie a buyer-in of all material only to find half of the lower pot bound rootball sliced off to leave a disc four inches thick in a eight inch deep pot!

In other words the specialist growers are finding both that no-one wants to follow on after them and fewer people nowadays hunt out their specialist plants, that the general non-specialist garden centre ie plastic furniture, ornaments, novelties are one-stop shopping centre for most ordinary occasional gardeners; plants and shrubs are dealt with as if any other bought-in product. Like it or not we live in the here and now.

Its called the pushing aside of  ‘knowledge and experience’ … things that if not presented or primarily existing within the screen are seemingly irrelevant to much of the population. Its not only the young apparently middle aged folk also seem bewitched by online activity.

I’ve said this for years, the ability to work with soil, to nurture, to create a worthwhile and ‘intelligent garden’ are quite rare and increasingly rare. An interesting illustration is my patch of the English lake District where its very difficult to find a small scale garden that instills any sense of depth or age, everywhere everything is never older than a decade. ie retirement then infirmity scupper what can be achieved over decades as the garden, the plot itself determines the winners and losers.

 

postscript: its hard to get the point across of basic soil husbandry with many people, ie how to garden. Each autumn I treasure the leaf fall as nourishment for the myriad soil inhabitants, worms, algae, mold, bacteria and its also an insulating blanket for the impending winter cold. Note bulbs by the end of September already are showing significant underground development, in waiting for the spring push. Likewise buds on trees by the September are set and waiting for the Spring dash!  Yet so many unwitting households adore their silly garden vacuums and love to hoover away all that is set by nature to help them! And yes I’m aware of excessive leaf fall and the possible plague of midges, point taken. The so called ‘garden compost’ so beloved of the bbc r4 GQT I am most sceptical of, its not inherent in any truly natural system of organic soil development, can throttle off self sown seedlings in the established flower garden, is much over-rated in fact, most certainly it will kill off all your crocus! I build my compost heaps for the mice. I remember a customer trying to loosen up a v heavy clay soil with annual mulches of sand … my suggestion of a top dressing of FYM to aid worm and soil life development went totally unheeded. She had no realisation of Nature and nurture, establishing the right framework to aid her little assistants underground, yet lift up any lump of FYM and the life is teeming from under.

A fifty yard bank of cowslip from Seaham, seed first cast twenty years ago.
A fifty yard bank of cowslip from Seaham, seed first cast twenty years ago. ie my annexe / nature reserve, a private venture so to speak.
Heres a tricky area, lots of shade, probably its best year yet, a patch three decades old. I've also planted Amelanchier to the left and a few weeks ago the small white flowers were a delight in the semi-shade.
Heres a tricky area, lots of shade, probably its best year yet, a patch three decades old. I’ve also planted Amelanchier to the left and a few weeks ago the small white flowers were a delight in the semi-shade.
Two dozen native british north country species introduced over as many years, latest successes are avens and primrose where my wifes ashes are scattered.
Two dozen native british north country species introduced over as many years, latest successes are avens and primrose where my wifes ashes are scattered.
Doronicum looking good, ivy at right is for nesting wren, lots of honeysuckle and rambler rose to flower in a couple of months.
Doronicum looking good, ivy at right is for nesting wren, lots of honeysuckle and rambler rose to flower in June and July.
Just a small part, looking north, all paths are herringbone brick from thirty years ago. The garden itself decides what shall flourish! The clever part if the unfolding of so many layers and years of planting as the weeks progress from Christmas.
Just a small part, looking north, all paths are herringbone brick from thirty years ago. The garden itself decides what shall flourish! The clever part if the unfolding of so many layers and years of planting as the weeks progress from Christmas.

 

All it takes is a little bit of appropriate habitat and to be left alone ... much like myself!
All it takes is a little bit of appropriate habitat and to be left alone … much like myself! ie damselflies taken on a secondhand £20 ebay camera.

 

 

 

 

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Arctic thawing and landslides…

I assume this exposes hidden methane hydrates to thaw even quicker, accelerate microbial activity, allow subterranean gases to emerge and may well divert established waterflow toward raw earth. A couple of times in my life I’ve been close to landslip material and its a substance unrealised until one has seen and handled it.

An aside, my own husbandry of a watercourse to help reduce erosion … a place I know has had needlessly a mile of ditches re-dug which were very old and functioned fine already, the field border and ditches date from 1680 are moss lined, bound with perennial herbs and a highly efficient web of roots both fibrous and woody to bind it all together.  Lots of runs, holes and trackways from I guess vole activity. Now all this has been scraped away and dumped onto the other side of the road, exposed raw earth will most certainly be eroded and washed down as is already evident a few weeks following the needless so-called ‘improvement’ …  the complete mile is on a hill and runs down in basically a straight line downwards.  This is new work is a recipe for disaster. Again, I know that hill and for the last few winters merely as an anonymous citizen have known which drainage conduit to unblock with my six foot pry-bar to get things functioning (mostly from fly-tipped builders and garden waste) yet also each year for days previous to my visit all the locals, farmers, gamekeepers, middle class out of town country dwellers have sailed past in their cars and done nothing as the torrent carves out and undercuts the edge of the road.  So, as yet again the man in the digger has no intimate knowledge of what he is doing, no perceptible aptitude and merely wrecks what already functions perfectly well. A case in point being run off channels where I don’t think run-off will occur in many cases.  I guarantee as is already being demonstrated that once the heavy rain run-off flushes downwards the silt build up will in fact create flooding, blockage, overspill further down where none need have occurred. I often think man as a labouring animal, as trying to engage with intelligent / common sense husbandry is increasingly becoming useless at this small intimate scale. Further down, each year I also quite easily can divert side of road run-off back into the drainage channel merely banking a few inches of earth and voila! … job done. The digger driver has completely ignored these points / locations. My charming aside re basic hydrology now finished, back to the dreaded thawing permafrost.

http://theconversation.com/thawing-permafrost-is-triggering-thousands-of-landslides-across-the-arctic-114702

Insect decline.

Plenty of news coverage yesterday re insect decline, bizarre predictions of  ‘100 years’ seem so silly, if insect loss stands as it does now I’d say three years, five or seven. How else, if they’re ‘dropping like flies’  (horrible pun)  with nicotinoids and unmentioned aluminium levels then the tail off will can only be drastic. I feel so sorry for the knock on effects, to lose garden song birds will be so sad. Likewise bees, butterflies, and i wonder at earthworms. I garden for birds here, strangers have told me so, yet we use the term ‘garden songbird’ when in fact gardens suitable for them, swathes of urban garden are punctuated with barren grass patches at best or paving and gravel and the dreaded dreaded membrane. People just do not seem to connect, few people plant a garden hedge, there are other preoccupations, other toys to play with nowadays. People are so THICK …

My garden is a maze of carefully thought out ‘jumble’, niche corners, shrubs, flowering things, every day of the year theres something in flower. All done at little expense, lots from seed and cuttings.

Many farmers are not the best of operators in ensuring biodiversity, often on my rambles hedges are left to fail and thin and then remain as a few straggling hawthorn sixty years later. A most useful small / mini wood at the entrance to Old B Church was destroyed a few years ago, snowdrop churned to muck, for no purpose, the Forestry Commission a hundred miles away telling me they granted a license to fell and there will be i assume grant aid to develop another artificial synthetic planting. Here in our local Park much used by urban dogwalkers similar nonsense is occurring, an obsession in destroying potential butterfly habitat ie strimming and putting out of reach leaf litter for blackbirds with an obsession with wood chippings; maybe I’m wrong, maybe it will house worms and woodlice, I shall have to check.

Likewise at a couple of separate places i visit, i place bird seed in useful rough weathered fencepost, for twenty years yellowhammer have always accompanied me along that road in spring and summer, its the least i can do. I feed horses too, initially a little neglected, twenty years ago, nowadays the owners realise they need to make an effort. Its what you do that matters, not platitudes or vacuous observations with no follow up. In the bad snow of seven years ago it was only one visit in six weeks that I missed a 28 mile round trip to feed each afternoon; snow tyres being essential.

Do kids do gardening at school? They’ve stopped the wood and metalwork decades ago. And I always wonder that once the photo-op has passed what are the results of their efforts with trowel and seed packet? The consistency, the regularity of effort?

I recall my years eleven to sixteen in a village Secondary School NE England … the microscopes only ever came out of the cupboard once in five years, the biology / science teacher hopeless and uninterested, many lessons devoted to playing ‘hangman’ while he played around with his admin tasks!

We most definitely are bringing up kids that cannot make perform simple tasks to satisfactorily conclusion, cannot complete a practical task. The term ‘using ones hands’ still carries to many a derogatory inflexion to it. Lets blame the Educationalists, they have eradicated so much that is practical and geared toward a finished piece of work, not just fannying on with the apron and plastic specs. We live in a bullshit world, we are getting what we deserve.

An American style obsession driven by big business, all sizes of business with red meat and burgers will have to be re-thought, likewise population control; likewise what we spray on the fields. Probably its too late, but i would never give in, never decline to make the effort.

Aluminium levels are much ignored, not embraced as mainstream and my interest in diatoms is just too obscure (fundamental to the marine food chain) to yield anything from online searches!

 

https://www.straitstimes.com/world/europe/world-seeing-catastrophic-collapse-of-insects-study

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/feb/10/plummeting-insect-numbers-threaten-collapse-of-nature

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-47198576

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/insects-dying-out-uk

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-00553-8

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-47203344

 

From the Readers Digest Book of Birds, a most valuable and informative book. It 'appeals' ... is a beautiful object, it draws you in like no website ever could.
From the Readers Digest Book of Birds, a most valuable and informative book. It ‘appeals’ … is a beautiful object, it draws you in like no website ever could.

 

Isn’t that a beautiful rendition of the lapwing!  So accurate, so characterful, a credit to the artist. Their antics, their beautiful rippling warble across upland landscape is joyful, a masterpiece of creation. To those that don’t know it, they are sadly lacking.

So lets remind ourselves and also learn …

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silent_Spring

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pesticide_toxicity_to_bees

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_R._Ehrlich

https://www.ecologise.in/2017/10/26/giant-insect-ecosystem-collapsing-due-humans-catastrophe/

We need levity …

… and a fresh wind to blow.

Too much has been taken up with the cloying sadness and ineptitude of trump ie I mean the circus that masquerades as an administration.

Its a Sunday evening here, lets refresh ourselves.

Kenneth Williams was a rare individual,  a shy perhaps exquisite human being that blossomed best when left alone. Parkinson later on paired him with guests that destroyed his presence; but here we are in better times … I never realised Maggie Smith was so deliciously attractive …. maybe its cos now I’m now forty years older.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maggie_Smith

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenneth_Williams

 

 

Postscript : I feel very inclined to end my trump posts, its all plain and clear for all to see how things will proceed, I’ve a great thirst to focus on more worthwhile topics than an overblown pantomime dame who most certainly will be leaving the White House under a very dark cloud.

Mass extinction … trying to understand.

https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/6th-mass-extinction-under-way-may-put-humans-at-6338783.php

Look at the contributors, for instance … Paul Erlich.

Not many bees this last year, no hubble of flies as I walk along late summer country lanes. The little critturs go first …. go ask a diatom.

Then the birds will fail and as above the pollinators and meanwhile some twat at 5G tells us how lucky we are ….

I am so glad I do not live in a city.

 

Nature wins every time …

Just heard on bbc r4 at 09:35 a most fascinating interview with Bernie Krause and his half century of sound recording, particularly how the volume and variety of natures soundscape has been declining for many years. The example given of the loss of water and habitat has rendered his example landscape near silent from a previous abundance of life and natures activity. Heres a vid I clicked at random, also we get a quote from William Dean Howells and so I also include the wiki. I actually did think of doing something with nature recordings, I’d collected a few dozen hours using my new Olympus DM-670 and was utterly impressed by its range and fidelity. I collected recordings out on walks and here several at say 04:30 spring thro early summer. Being out over the years I devised the June 13th shutdown which i’ve never read of anywhere else, its a ‘moveable feast’ so to speak.  Thats why i need to get this posted ASAP, I want to enjoy the atmosphere of my own garden before the bustle of the neighbourhood arrives.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Dean_Howells

A friend asked “How do you know all this stuff ?” … easy really, I use a computer at a desk and so can jot down in my daybook or diary or scraps of paper all I find interesting. Theres always pens and paper in every room in this house, books too, lots. Yet some folk think they are more ‘civilised’ than I am  … by living in stereotypical close to empty boxes !! Oh yes and no tv.

Guardian on wildlife…

Harrowing stats, all down. An open window at night might bring in a moth, 25yrs ago there would be lots and you would make sure it was only slightly ajar at night for eight months of the year. Even toads the Guardian tells us are at two thirds down in the 30 years I’ve been visiting the pit heap, funnily enough these last few years toads have been far fewer, water is fed in at a dribble from ag land further up, I wonder if and what they are spraying?

As cited previously its difficult to find up to date news of moth decline. Silence too on Pacific seabird decline and next to nothing on my favourite topic of diatoms – a strata of base level food chain that all successive levels depend upon.

I think municipal authorities could do more, excessive verge clearing must surely not help, though I do realise sapling encroachment may be part of their remit. Our local park is poorly managed say for unhindered sapling ash sprouting out of everything yet still there is the needless strimming at mid summer of any marginal herbage. So what about campion, yellow rattle or suchlike being able to set and scatter seed? Or my pending one thousand orchids scattered as seed a couple of years ago, the repeat of an experiment conducted sucessfully elsewhere. This tells me they know zilch for butterfly conservation. Also old and dead timber is not allowed to remain, hence are adamant on minimising food supply for songbirds.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/may/31/herbicides-insecticides-save-british-countryside-meaows

 

P1110800
Tiny toad found on the road. say 2011