31 January 2014

Friday Five: Botanical Latin - The Naming of plants

The most common botanical Latin that most of us will come across are the genus and species names of plants, otherwise known as binomial nomenclature. An example of this binomial nomenclature being Hedera helix, which is commonly known as english ivy. The genus should always have an initial capital and the species should always be lowercase; both parts should be in italics.

29 January 2014

Book Review: Grow your own cut flowers by Sarah Raven

Last year I made some small bouquets from the flowers growing in our garden. It made me realise how much I missed choosing and buying flowers for Lucy each month - something I haven't been able to do while I've been off work.

27 January 2014

Berry Go Round #66

Welcome to the 66th edition of Berry Go Round. The previous edition is available over at In the Company of Plants and Rocks.

During this month, I've noticed how a lot of our botanical writings have been about our relationship with plants. Whether we're out hunting for new plants, trying to identify what we see, classifying major groups of plants, deciding their fates, or just enjoying them - plants are a massive part of our lives in many different ways.

24 January 2014

Friday Five: What The Lorax Taught Me

"Thneed's a Fine-Something-That-All-People-Need" 
The Lorax taught me that we can all fall victim to needing the new big thing. The thing that professes to be a magical thing that can help you improve your life. And that's ok - if it is something that's truly useful to you.

But we need to consider where it comes from and how it was made. An excellent example being the Forest Stewardship Council who ensure that wood with their logo is from woodland managed appropriately. More on FSC here.

It's also important to consider what you're going to do with your 'thneed' when it breaks or you want the new model: Recycle - Reuse - Reduce.

22 January 2014

Comma butterfly - Polygonia c-album

Comma Butterfly

Date Photographed: 23/07/2013
Location: Melksham, Wiltshire
Resources: http://www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/species.php?species=c-album
Notes: I managed to snap this one having a rest on one of our plant pots. It appears to be quite a variable species and I was assisted to an identification by Bob Fleming on the Wild About Britain website.

20 January 2014

Introduction to Ecosystems - A FutureLearn Course

A few months ago I heard about a new venture from the Open University called FutureLearn. While currently in Beta, FutureLearn aims to offer free, high quality online courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. Commonly known as MOOCs (massive open online courses), Introduction to Ecosystems is provided from the Open University itself, however other courses are offered via FutureLearn from universities such as those in Bath, Bristol, Liverpool, and Newcastle, etc.

17 January 2014

Friday Five: Plant Cells

Plant cells are amazing in function and under the microscope are beautiful to look at. There are a potentially infinite amount of interesting things to know about plant cells, but here are five features that stand out to me...

15 January 2014

Book Review: The Earth Moved by Amy Stewart

Book Review: The Earth Moved by Amy Stewart
Earthworm or bookworm!?
Sometimes I'm reading a book - or attempting to - and it's just a real effort to pull myself away from whatever I'm doing, even the most tedious task to sit down and plough through the pages.

This book, however, is absolutely magical. The Washington Post say that this book is 'an enjoyable, enlightening educational experience'. I not only applaud the excellent example of alliteration, but wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment.

13 January 2014

Earthcaching - Celebrating the 10th anniversary

On the 10 January 2004, the very first Earthcache was placed in New South Wales, Australia. Geocaching.com now reports that there are over 17,000 Earthcaches around the world.

An Earthcache is a special breed of cache, they take us to places of geological interest - for example the cache we visited brought us to the location of 25,000 sarsen stones. 
Lockeridge Dene, Wiltshire
Lockeridge Dene, Wiltshire

10 January 2014

Friday Five: Making the most of Cut Flowers

Conditioning is the process of preparing cut flowers prior to arranging them. Remove the bottom half to two-thirds of the foliage - at minimum ensure that no foliage is below the water line where it will begin to rot. Cut the flower stem at a 45-degree angle rather than a straight cut. A straight cut will stop the flower absorbing water if the stem is resting on the bottom of the vase. Additionally, an angled cut provides a larger surface area for water absorption. Finally the longevity of cut flowers can be increased if they are left to rest in a cool, dark place in a bucket of tepid water for a few hours.

08 January 2014

Berry Go Round Plant Carnival

At the end of January I'll be the host for the Berry Go Round plant carnival for the first time.

Berry Go Round (BGR) has been around since January 2008 when the first BGR was hosted by Seeds Aside. Since then there have been 65 BGR carnivals, with the most recent being held over at In the Company of Plants and Rocks.

The purpose of Berry Go Round is to highlight posts of botanical interest that have been written in the month prior to the carnival. Posts are either submitted to the BGR spreadsheet or have been found by the host during that month. These posts are then collated into a blog posts with links going back to the original post.

It allows all of us that blog about plants to find out about each other and read the interesting things that we've all been discovering during our botanical adventures.

So if you write about plants, submit your post here - you can submit up to 4 entries from your blog. Any posts about plants are fine, so long as plants are the main focus - that includes recipes of botanical interest, but not normally purely horticultural posts.

I have to say that I'm very excited about hosting the carnival this month. I'm looking forward to seeing all of your lovely plant posts and only hope that I can put together a post good enough for them.

If you'd like to be a host for Berry Go Round, then please email Susannah by clicking here. I know that February is still available and it would be really great to have someone host the carnival and continue on with this fine tradition of collating and sharing botanical posts. If you want a few more details, please click through to the hosting guidelines.

06 January 2014

My 2013 Review

I like to take a few extra days to review the previous year. Not only does it allow me to read lots of other blogger's take of their past year, helping me get some tips on perspective. But I also like to blur the edge between years; to make the dividing line between 2013 and 2014 less important. Like everyone else, I enjoy making and breaking resolutions, but more are broken than persevered with.

I make resolutions as I meander through the year, which is helpful because it means that I can just get on with whatever I've decided on and find out quickly if it's something that's going to stick or just a passing fad. Here is a brief overview of some aspects of my 2013.

03 January 2014

Friday Five: Earthworms and the study of

As it seems with most things, Darwin was the first to take the time to scientifically study earthworms. His final book, The Formation of Vegetable Mould, Through the Action of Worms With Observations on Their Habits, published in 1881 was a detailed study collating his experiment results from a 40 year period about the habits of the worms in his garden at Down House.

02 January 2014

BSBI New Year's Day Plant Hunt

Previously I've blogged about Plantlife's Wild Flowers Count survey, which I really enjoyed. So when I saw that the BSBI had their own plant hunt, I couldn't wait to get started.

01 January 2014

Desktop Calendar - January 2014

Happy New Year

What could be a better way to start 2014 than adding my January 2014 calendar image to your desktop!?

This month it's a photo of a Chaffinch that I took in January 2013 during a short walk in the snow.

Chaffinch photo for your desktop