Snowdrops and Bees

The snowdrops in the garden are probably at their best now.  At least for the bees. I’m surprised to see bees so early in the year; I’d certainly never seen them on snowdrops before, although I’d probably never looked…

So there I was, lying in some mud, trying to get an adequate photo of the snowdrops when I heard a whining, solitary buzz. A bee – with very orange kneecaps! *

*OK – pollen baskets!

Wolf Hall

I finished reading ‘Wolf Hall’ and ‘Bring Up the Bodies’ by Hilary Mantel in time for the final episode of the wonderful BBC adaptation. I’ll miss them. There are images in my mind now (from both books and television) that will take a long time to fade. As always, I’m glad I read the books first. I felt so involved in the world they created, but that takes nothing away from the excellence of the BBC version.

The third book is desperately needed!

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Flowers and Old Books

So this is the plan: put up some shelves for the gardening books which, at the moment, are piled up in a corner.

It’s been mooted before, but writing about those poisonous plants and plant names brought it back into focus. Looking along my bookshelves, I’ve found two relatively old books I’d forgotten about or just neglected. One is called ‘The Book of Wildflowers’. I remember seeing it on the bookshelves when I was a child. Only now do I notice that an older relative’s name is written inside it, in faded blue-black ink. Someone (unfortunately I suspect myself here) has crossed boldly through his name in black; my name appears on the following page. Guilty as charged!

The other book is ‘The Observer’s Book of Wild Flowers’. I remember choosing this one myself; it has some clumsy maths workings-out in the back of it, along with some improvements suggested by my mum!

Clearly an interest in flowers was always there, though apparently not much respect for a book as an object; as a young child I used to enjoy writing in my books – personalising them, you could say. That’s why I find it difficult to give away any of my older books: some of them are like little time capsules.

Further to my comments on the book about poisonous plants – someone told me when I bought it a couple of weeks ago that the Poison Garden at Alnwick Castle is well worth a visit.  Unfortunately, I haven’t seen it myself (it wasn’t finished when I went there), but I’d love to go.  Here is a link:

http://www.alnwickgarden.com/explore/whats-here/the-poison-garden/about

Poisonous Plants

Another book I bought on the same day; same previous owner.  It was published in 1967 and appears to have been sold at one time by a bookshop in Herefordshire (see images).  It’s full of interesting facts about plants it would be wiser not to eat, including some information about my poor rain-soaked winter aconites. Apparently their poisonous constituent is alkaloid, they have a burning taste, and their poisonous effects are little known. Subtly beautiful though…

Plant Names

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I bought some old gardening books recently; this one in particular caught my eye because it combines two of my interests: plants and language.

It contains some fascinating information about the origin and meaning of plant names.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I know all this can probably be found easily on the internet, but it’s much more exciting somehow to read it in a book from 1923.