07 April 2014

Book Review: RHS Botany for Gardeners by Geoff Hodge

When I first moved to Wiltshire I came across the word 'lush' for the first time. It's just not something I ever remember hearing where I come from in North Lincolnshire. It's current urban usage means something that's really pleasing, desirable, or even ultra-nice. Of course the current usage can be traced back to various sources but tended to be in reference to the luxuriance of plants. A great example being Shakespeare's Tempest: "How lush and lusty the grasse lookes?", but goes even further back to the Latin, luxuria for luxury. To this book, both definitions well and truly apply.

This book follows on from the previous year's RHS Latin for Gardeners and is similarly not just a book, but a work of art.

Geoff Hodge has a wonderfully readable way of describing various aspects of botany from cell division to how plants sense the environment around them. But this isn't just a reference book, where possible the book delves into the practical benefits that an understanding of botany can provide gardeners, from soil pH to a chapter on pruning.

Along the way we meet some of the botanists and botanical artists that have made a big impact on the history of botany, from Barbara McClintock to Richard Spruce and from Matilda Smith to John Lindley. We learn briefly about their lives and the importance of their work as well as the lasting legacy they left behind.

This book is made ever more lush, page by page, with the inclusion of wonderful illustrations of plants. Some illustrate concepts such as phyllotaxis, others are just plain gorgeous, all are botanically accurate.

This book was a pleasure to read. It's one that not only looks epic on the shelf next to Latin for Gardeners, but it's a book that I will continually be dipping into. I can only hope that the series will continue and I've even cheekily asked for an RHS Ecology for Gardeners (only time will tell)!

If you're interested in gardening, but haven't read a botany book before, then start here - it's a wonderful introduction that will prepare you for more indepth books on botany if you choose to go deeper down the rabbit hole.

01 April 2014

Desktop Calendar - April 2014

A couple of years ago my lovely fiancée, Lucy, bought me a Magnolia Stellata for my birthday. It didn't do much the first year, but last year it put on a good show of leaves and really started growing, finishing the year with some flower buds. So, here is the very first flower from our Magnolia tree! There are so many starting to open and I'm really enjoying spending time looking at them. I hope you enjoy it too :)

1) To ensure that you get the best quality, click the photo so that lightbox opens the image.
2) Right-click the image so that the context menu appears:
Firefox: Select "Set as Desktop Background..." and choose from the position options as below (Center or Fit will generally provide the best look).

Options from Firefox
Internet Explorer: Select "Set as Background". To change position settings you will need to set the personalise settings for the desktop in Control Panel:
Control Panel settings
Mac OS10.6.8
Chrome: Command click on photo (above); it opens in a new Tab. Drag to desktop. Use "Desktop & Screensaver" in System Preferences to center and choose background color.

To Hollis, over at In the Company of Plants and Rocks, for the Mac instructions.
To Jessica Burke from Moss Plants and More for such the idea.

Note: If anyone uses other Operating Systems and could let me know the instructions for applying the photo as a desktop image, please get in touch!

25 March 2014

4th Blogiversary

It's hard to believe that the very first blog post was published on the 25 March 2010! It was published by my friend, Mark, and detailed one of our camping adventures.

So much has changed in the past 4 years. This was initially a blog about camping and was called 'Camping and Outdoors' and I published many posts about camping, bushcraft, and equipment. Then I got ill in January 2012 and found that for the time being camping was out of the question.

As suddenly as illness came on, I found a real interest in plants. So, over time, the blog became more about what we can observe when we're out and about in nature and the name of the blog changed to 'Notes of Nature'. Here's one of the early layouts:

April 2012

Since then I've learned much about plants and really like trying to pass on what I've been learning. I also became interested in minimalism and as well as blog posts of my reflections about clutter and minimalism, my blog design was very minimalistic at one point:

March 2013
I feel that I have reached a happy medium with the blog design at the moment, so it'll probably stay the same for a while. My main frustration at the moment is how tired I am, so I've really had to pull right back using pacing in an attempt to ensure that I don't slip too far back. I really hope to be back blogging soon and really appreciate the messages that I've received from other bloggers. I hope that you're all well and enjoying the onset of Spring. Thanks for reading.