Filthy Humans

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‘I may not yet be as old as dirt, but dirt and I are starting to have an awful lot in common.’ Stephen R. Donaldso

Today I was working next to a main road today trying to reduce a hedge. The hedge was growing through the railings which meant I had to squash between plant and railing, my arm rubbing against the leaves. After a day, I looked like this.

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(note: my arms look like truly odd shapes in these photos,. I don’t think they are odd shapes, it’s just difficult to take a photo of your own arm with a phone.)

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No, that isn’t dirt exactly, it’s pollution. In central London, next to the road, the plants are covered with this. You can see it in the trees too.

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It was a good day though, every time someone walked past on the pavement, I stopped the hedgecutter and waited (for safety, mainly, but also so as not to freak people out with the noise). People passing would see this squashed gardener behind the railing, hedgecutter held aloft. I’d smile, they’d smile, and it would make me a bit happier each time.

Word of the day: Ramentum – chaffy scale on plants

 

The Secret Garden

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I think, think, I just caught a bumble bee trying to lay eggs in the crack in my window sill, is that possible? She was sitting on the crack for ages, waggling her abdomen about. I helped the fluffy lady out the window and couldn’t see any actual eggs, so I filled the crack in with bathroom sealant. Not exactly high-class DIY, but it’s all I had and the whole window is such a mess anyway, I can’t make it any worse.

There’s a small road off the main road near my house that looks like it might be a short cut to town, but whenever I spot it I’ve been in too much of a rush to go down there. Finally today, I did.

It contains a beautiful, cared-for garden, filled with flowers and mosaics. A small oasis in a grotty street off a grotty road that I had no clue was there. It was like cracking open an ordinary stone to find a carving inside.

Whenever I take the time to go exploring I always find amazing things. That’s one thing I  like about this blog, it makes me look.

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Freaky deaky Clematis

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I’ll be honest, this photo was taken a few weeks ago. Or months. I don’t really pay attention, time does its thing whatever. Anyway, I found this while weeding in one our more exotic gardens and asked around my colleagues to see if anyone knew what it was. We thought because of the leaves, it must be a Clematis, but none of us had seen a flower like this.

After I got home I did some googling around and discovered this photo, so the centre of Clematises do do this, but is it normal to do it this much?

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The Googled photo From here

 

Like the segments of an orange. Barely a flower at all.

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This has just been a week when I’ve proved how little I know about plants, right?

Attack of the killer plants

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This morning myself and Dan were clearing out a herbaceous border that hadn’t had attention in a while. Sometimes people think gardening is simple, but I’m not sure why, plants are damn complicated. And not being straightforward means that we often have to ask each other,

‘Is this a weed?’ Because there are thousands of different weeds and if they grow huge or are attractive, then it’s easy to assume a weed is a carefully chosen ornamental plant, of which there are also thousands.

So Dan asked me if a plant was a weed, and I guessed yes because it was too close to a shrub, but still, it was huge and attractive, with pretty purple flowers. I picked some to get a photo, trying to arrange them on the grass, while Dan started googling purple weed, but got nowhere. I had a feeling that these flowers reminded me of something else, maybe something like Solanum? (there’s an ornamental Solanum, but tomatoes are Solanum too). Meanwhile Dan was rubbing the leaves under his nose to see if they smelt of anything familiar.

‘Oh yeah, they do look a bit like Solanum,’ said Dan, squashing a leaf against his cheek thoughtfully. Then a worrying thought occurred to me,

‘Isn’t Deadly Nightshade a Solanum, Dan? Dan, maybe stop rubbing it on your face.’ I said, beginning to panic I googled. Yeah, Deadly nightshade is exactly what it was. One of the most poisonous plants we have in England. Cue frantic seeking out of water and searching symptoms and cures, and waiting for hallucination, seizures, death.

Pretty though. And we discovered that Deadly Nightshade is ok so long as you don’t eat any of it and wash it off immediately. And women used to drip juice of it into their eyes to make their pupils big. So it’s been educational.

Word of the day: phthartic – deadly; destructive

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Nature’s bubble wrap. And ants.

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“Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise”

Word of the day: myrmecophilous – having a symbiotic relationship with ants

This morning my train got cancelled! Which means I ended up sitting in a carriage with all the wrong people, going from the wrong station. I’ll have to wait until Monday to see Angry Staring Man and the twins again.

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Melianthus seed pods ready to be stamped on

 

However I did make two interesting discoveries today. One was that the seed head of Melianthus (pic above) makes a very satisfying popping sound when you squeeze it, far more delightful than bubble wrap. I showed some to Dan and his eyes grew wide as he began popping feverishly away, then I showed Jessica and she was soon jumping up and down on them. I reckon I could market them:

Melianthus bubblepop! The all natural way to relax.

Bubblepop, no plastic, no toxins, just soothing pops to ease your mood.

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The other discovery happened when I pulled back a dead leaf and discovered an ants’ nest underneath. They hadn’t even bothered burying their army in the ground. The swarms of flying and pedestrian ants quickly fled to hid under another leaf, but I got a  photo.

Oh AND the brilliant Calmgrove has been doubting the veracity of some of my words of the day and has challenged me to use them in a story. I’m not sure how that would prove anything, but I think it’s an excellent idea all the same. It won’t be easy, but I’ll see what I can do.

The teddy bears of the insect world

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“First of all nothing will happen and a little later, nothing will happen again.”

Leonard Cohen

Word of the day: oose – furry dust that gathers under beds (from Scots)

There’s a bumble bee nest under our tractor, if you watch the ground for a while, bees will bumble in and out of a crack in the ground. I was too inept to get a good photo, so I took one of them on an Eryngium as well.

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And then it poured with rain, I got a headache and fell over in a puddle, so the bumble bees were definitely the highlight.

Sorry for the short blog today, here’s another Eryngium to make up for it.

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Duel identity

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Before today, I hadn’t noticed the fruits of an Elaeagnus. They’re like jewels.

Weather: Sun and hail happening at the same time, that should mean a magical rainbow, but there was NOTHING.

Mood: a bit dazed

Word of the day:  Aceldama   (n)  site or scene of violence or bloodshed

Last night the bathroom light cord wouldn’t switch on, no matter how I pinged it, so I had to clean my teeth in the dark and then wait until this morning to see if I’d sprayed toothpaste everywhere.

Got to spend the day with Mateo today, he always avoids me when we walk the same way to the tube station, so I assumed he didn’t like me much. It turns out he’s generally reluctant to talk to anyone, but once he relaxed a bit we got on well. He looks like a weathered Leonard Cohen and can build anything out of anything. If we find a bit of metal tubing or a sheet of plastic dumped in the gardens, our boss will say, ‘Take that back to Matee-o [how everyone pronounces his name] he can build something with it.’

Anyway, today we were building a climbing frame for Clematis out of some packing crates. Went pretty well in that nothing collapsed and it looked smart at the end. I also got to hear Mateo ‘s story. I started by asking him if his name is really pronounced Matee-o , which is what everyone seems to call him. He said no, ‘it’s pronounced Azider’.

‘Ah,’ I said, ‘of course.’

Turns out that he’s a Basque separatist, and grew up under the oppression of the Spanish. Not allowed to speak his own language in the schools, not allowed to have his own name on any official documents, so officially he is Mateo, but it isn’t his name. He reckons Azider is too difficult to pronounce for English folk, so keeps it simple (even though we can’t get Mateo right either).

His teenage years were spent in and out of prison because of fighting with the police. To him it was a war, to the government, they were terrorists.

(The conflict ended in 2011)

Frogs and Caterpillars

Today was a good day for wildlife, so I thought I’d share. I hope no one has the heebies jeebies about the above animals, ‘cos here are some…

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Tropical Caterpillars
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A Caterpillar with many horns and spikes

I saw a dark shape sitting amongst my orchid roots…

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Mysterious blob

I was a bit alarmed, then saw it was a frog, frogs are great.

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Banishing Gloom – a Monday Good Thing

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A lot of bad things have been happening in the world recently, and now it’s cold, everyone is miserable and I keep forgetting to notice all the good things that are around me.

So I’m going to make a point of, every Monday, posting something good from the week. Either a photo, an observation, a piece of news or a delightful fact.

So what about you, what has brightened up your Monday? What good things are in your life right now?

If anyone feels like joining in, that would be fantastic, I’m happy to link or feature.

This Monday’s good thing, some photos of the frost where I work…

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