Monday, 8 February 2010


One of the prettiest: Trillium erectum.

Two newspaper articles amused me, this week. The first, which you'll find here, describes how a pair of Royal Albatross, Diomedea epomophora, have reared a chick in a breeding colony in southern New Zealand. No news there, I hear you cry - but the 'man bites dog' angle, in this story is that they are both female. Hence the headline:

Lesbian albatrosses to raise their chick.

This is a ridiculous heap of anthropomorphic twaddle. You can impose all sorts of boundaries and codes of sexual conduct on humans, if you must. Religions, social customs and conventions usually decide what's 'right' and 'wrong' - though 'good' and the 'bad' or 'normal' and 'deviant' are quite different in different societies.

But in the animal world, such definitions make no sense. Albatrosses, like Mute Swans, bond. It's their nature. And sometimes the life-long relationship is between two members of the same sex. So what? You can't apply the word 'Lesbian' to that, can you?

Male Bonobos (aka Pygmy Chimpanzees) play extremely rude games together, but you couldn't really call them 'gay' or 'perverted.' It's just what Bonobos do, the horny little devils! And they're the closest thing, in the animal world, to us 'umans.

The other hilarity is that we have a new School Meals Tsar. (I didn't even know there was an old School Meals Tsar.) He's a chef - not a nutritionist, you'll note - called Robert Rees who trained at La Gavroche. Well, apparently he wants to lock school kids in, at lunch time, to make sure they eat good, nourishing food instead of nipping out to the local chippy for something hot, fatty, bad and delicious. No coercion there, then!

If I was a kid, the very act of locking me in would make me want to rebel - even though otherwise, I'd probably have gone happily for the wholesome, Tsar-approved tucker.

In future, it won't be just a quick fag, or a bit of furtive Bonobo behaviour behind the bike sheds, oh no! Instead, the kids will be sneakily porking smuggled chips and cheeseburgers, or perhaps even Pukka pies - whatever they are - to supplement their rocket and yak's milk yoghourt lunches. (I've never seen a Pukka, but assume it to be some kind of game bird.)

As for gardening - well, the weather's put the boot in. Again. I tried, at the week end, to cut back perennials and remove leaves from the epimediums, but it was so cold, claggy and wet, that I gave up with the job barely half done. Meanwhile, the kitchen stove glowed invitingly, so I sat, gently steaming while finishing The Old Curiosity Shop.

And later, when Little Nell was finally, properly dead - good riddance to such nauseating angelicness - and when the good (apart from Nell) had all ended happily and the bad unhappily - my thoughts turned to ponder another list.

Ypsilandra thibetica an early woodlander.

So without more ado, here's is my list of fifty little woodlanders. These are the plants that Little Nell might shed a motherly little tear over, for their sheer, peerless beauty. And which. . . oh, do get on with it, Colborn, for heaven's sake! I mean really!!!!!!!!!!!!

At random, then in order of their coming into the bonce:

1. Anemone nemorosa - all varieties that are not freaks.
2. Primula elatior - the true wild oxlip.
3. Primula vulgaris.
4. P. vulg. var sibthorpii - for the lilac petals.
5. Convallaria majalis
6. Ypsilandra thibetica - blue stamens - amazing - see piccy above.
7. Hacquetia epipactis - see last week's post
8. Viola odorata - all good varieties.
9. Viola sororia 'Freckles'
10. Galanthus nivalis - no colletors' varieties though!
11. Narcissus pseudonarcissus, only the true, wild, Wordsworth jobs.
12. Hyacinthoides non-scripta -yer actual genuine bluebell (NOT H. hispanica.)
13. Scilla hyacinthoides.
14. Epimedium 'Amber Queen' plus sundry epimediums but not those coarse things with cloth leaves.
15. Polygonatum glaberrimum see piccy below.- also P. odoratum
16. Speirantha convallarioides. Better than your actual Lily of the valley, possibly.
17. Ranunculus ficaria - preferably plain, wild celandines.
18. Cardamine pentaphyllos
19. Cardamine enniophyllos
20. Cyclamen hederifolium
21. Cyclamen repandum
22. Eranthis hyemalis
23. Erythronium tuolumnense
24. Erythronium revolutum
25. Luzula nivea
26. Luzula sylvatica
27. Anthericum liliago
28. Iris foetidissima
29. Trillium erectum
30. Trillium grandiflorum
31. Aquilegia alpina
32. Aquilegia formosa
33. Anemone prattii
34. Epipactis gigantea best garden orchid going, and a doddle to grow.
35. Polypodium vulgare
36. Blechnum spicant
37. Pellaea rotundifolia
38. Stellaria holostea - stitchwort - essential with bluebells.
39. Silene dioica - red campion, pink and lovely with bluebells and stitchwort.
40. Lychnis flos-cuculi - ragged robin. White form also acceptable.
41. Ajuga 'Catlin's Giant'
42. Leucojum vernum
43. Leucojum aestivum 'Gravetye Giant'
44. Omphalodes verna
45. Omphalodes cappadocica (NOT starry eyes. - seem to remember this from other list?)
46. Chrysoplenum davidianum
47. Corydalis flexuosa
48. Corydalis solida
49. Arum italicum
50. Paris quadrifolia

Er -that's it.
Polygonatum glaberrimum

I'm listening to Mahler's 5th Symphony.

I'm reading David Attenborough's Life on Air, about his life as a broadcaster.

This day in 2007 I calibrated the colour on my computer, using a Spyder Pro calibrator, rather than guesswork and prayer. I also recorded a large flock of Long Tailed Tits in trees by the River Glen and a barn owl.

This week's film was Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot. Surely Jacques Tati's greatest. The clowning is so easy to write off, unless one observes the entire frame closely. So many tiny details, all riddled with humour. And always more to see, even when one has watched the film scads of times. BUT, there will be those who hate it, and I respect that!

Well there we are. If you've read this far, I love you! Good bye!!!


  1. Hi Nigel,

    I love your woodland selection. I grow a few you mentioned and I am keen to look at some of the others in a bit more detail too. A few are likely to go on to my wish list so thanks for the inspiration!

    If the albatrosses were lesbian, did they use a sperm donor? lol


  2. Such a delictable list of woodlanders, methinks I shall have to ponder here a wee bit longer - many I recognize, a few I cultivate, but many are so very excitedly new to me... thank you for bringing them forth.... out of the woods for us to ponder!

  3. Lovely post! There was so much here to appreciate and enjoy.

    Les vacances de M. Hulot is a great film, but I think M. Tati's Mon Oncle is pure poetry. (Sorry, I know it's the cliche choice -- but perhaps there's a reason for its popularity.)

    That Ypsilandra is breathtaking! I never saw such a thing, and now I can't wait to see one live and in person.

    Poor children, locked in the cafeteria. Maybe this is the point in civilization's progress where it becomes obvious the schools are designed with the same rubric as prisons...

  4. I've never seen an Ypsilandra either - it is gorgeous. The fates have decreed that I should love woodland plants and yet be confined to a garden of dry, open, light.

    Was SPYDER Pro worth it? I've been thinking of calibrating mine.

  5. Arabella - the only way you can properly calibrate, is by machine. It does it objectively and the library for whom the PG and I shoot pictures - Garden World Images - insists on it.

    Meredith - yes, Mon Oncle is absolutely blissful.

    Thanks, everyone else for kind comments.

  6. Thank you for introducing me to Polygonatum glaberrimum - I'm a sucker for Solomon's Seal.

    I really enjoyed Life on Air. Seeing the Life on Earth series at a tender age was a life-shaping experience for me, for which I am eternally grateful to David Attenborough.

  7. Brilliant list and I'm smiling because I have quite a few of them planted in my shady areas.

    Fantastic news that you'll be at Malvern. Will it just be the Thursday?

    We've goodly numbers each day ensuring the behatted one will get thoroughly heckled ;)

    There's lots of info on the Malvern Meet blog, but our latest plan can be found at:

    Looking forward to seeing you there! Did you get my email? If not, it's probably in your Spam folder...

  8. Nigel, you've never had a Pukka pie? Presumably you've had a Ginster's pasty or pie at a service station? Well, Pukka Pies are the warmer, superior, flakier pastry version of that road side favourite.

  9. thanks for the information on this blog! I find it very interesting and entertaining! hopefully soon have updates that I love your post! I thank you too!
    buy viagra
    viagra online
    generic viagra