18 December 2012

Life at Lake Ellsworth

This week a very exciting mission began at Antarctica. The search for life 3km under the surface of the ice. While we may have some headlines in the near future, the scientific papers that will detail the findings are not likely to be published until late 2013. Exciting times.

More on the mission here:

04 December 2012

Welted Thistle - Carduus crispus

Date Photographed: 01/07/2012
Location: The Avenue, Claverton
Resources: http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Carduus+crispus

03 December 2012

Book Review: Gardening Techniques, RHS New Encyclopedia of

This was the best present that I ever bought for Lucy. I'm not sure she's ever actually looked in it, but I certainly have. I spent Spring 2011 reading it during lunch breaks and managed to get around 150 pages in before other things took over my time.

What do I like about this book? I like that it's a general all-rounder, with a breadth of topics and also what it covers within a topic. Take, for instance, Roses. The book begins with buying roses, moves on to planting roses and routine care, before discussing bush roses, climbing and rambling roses, species and shrub roses, and standard roses. Then to finish the topic of roses, the book discusses rose renovation and rose pests and diseases.

I also like the wonderful illustrations of the techniques described, they really make this book something special. An example being all of the illustrations for pruning all the different types of plants in the book, they're all unique. They show you exactly where to chop and how to train that plant. Mixed in are photographs of plants and flowers, which are also sometimes used to illuminate the topic further, as well as for interest.

The book covers the following general topics, there are sub-topics within them, but you'll have to search them out as I only have so much time to copy this list out!!
  1. Gardening Basics
  2. Wildlife Gardening
  3. Ornamental Gardening
  4. Growing Vegetables and Herbs
  5. Growing Fruit
  6. Lawns
  7. Water Gardening
  8. Container Gardening
  9. Gardening Under Glass
  10. Plant Propogation
I also like this book because it took a team of about 15 experts in their field to create it. Meaning that you get the best of the current information at the time of print.

But this leads me on to what I don't like about the book. With so many cooks in the kitchen, or more aptly so many gardeners in the greenhouse, the book does lack personality. I know that they have to choose a house style for the book and stick to it chapter after chapter, but it was a bit much for me at times. I have read a heafty chuck of this 480 page book, which is why I go back to it time and time again - because while I may not remember something specific, I remember the information I need is in this book. So for that, it's a go-er for me. I'll just dip in and out over time and get through it - the book's too useful not to.

My review is of the 2008 edition and I've noticed that there is a new edition coming in October 2012, so I've added that to the Amazon widget below too.

Own or Loan:         Loan
Read Again:           Not in entirety, just the relevant parts
Recommend:         Yes
Overall out of Five:4

"Collecting" : The everyday struggle

As many readers of this blog will know, I admit to having that hoarding instinct. Sometimes to make ourselves feel happier with what we're hoarding we call it collecting.

That can make it much harder to deal with if we see that it's a problem and want to deal with it.

For instance, the other day I was in a book store and there was a book about the gardening at the Eden Project down in Cornwall. It was a bit tatty, but was only £1.99. I felt those familiar pangs of wanting to buy the book and to place it on the shelf with my "collection" of gardening books.

Luckily, I'm quite well versed with this now and as I leafed through the books I asked myself the standard questions:
1) If I buy this book will I have time to read it immediately; if not would I make time? No.
2) Do I want a book specifically about the Eden Project? Not really.
3) Is there anywhere else I could buy this book - probably in better condition for less money? Yes. Many options online!
4) Is there anywhere I could read this book or a book like it for free? Yes. The library
5) Do I want this book? No.

What this made me realise is that I would like to read a book about the Eden Project. But not in isolation. I'd like to read a book about the Eden Project just before we next visit it - which as we made our second trip to it last year, is unlikely in the near future.

It made a lot of sense to say no to myself about this book. I have a very intensive OU module that I'm currently studying that requires I read many books leaving me with little time. In addition, I've asked for a couple of books for Christmas, ones that I've researched and ones that I'd decided months ago I wanted - not ones I'd stumbled upon accidentally and wanted because of the 'now' factor - the feeling of short lived happiness I'd get from buying the book before the long lived disappointment that I caved in to myself and bought a book that I might read (at the soonest) in a couple of years, but might never read.

It just goes to show that even a successful decluttering project doesn't mean we're fixed forever. It's something that we have to recognise and question constantly if we're to keep aligned to our goals!

Happy minimalism to you all :)

02 December 2012