Yellow is my favourite colour. The best. The greatest colour there is. Except perhaps blue. yes blue. Or red. Maybe green.

I must admit to you, my dear reader, that I am somewhat enjoying this ‘spring’.

As we approach its final month and of course celebrate Witches Night or ‘Walpurgis’ on the 30th of April, I am looking forward to all the beauty yet to come. Of course there are many out there who declare that spring has just begun and possibly in Northern countries, winter is only just ending by the end of April…

Of course I sit here in the southern extreme of a tiny island on the edge of a vast ocean, with prevailing ‘Westerlies’.  So for me, Spring came a ,long time ago. But then, sometimes, I like to spoil myself and think of the small things, in small ways. Which is why I am watching the sparrows flit about the hedge outside my window, whilst listening to Bob Marley. Try it. Everything will slow down and take on a more relaxed air.

Not that I partake of the ‘erb’ of course – no matter how natural. I like a clear mind, unsullied by an enforced chemical cloud.

So here we are. Alive, today. In this past week -whilst walking on this island that I inhabit – I found myself asking a question.


Would you?

I mean; could you commit to a garden which is devoted to one colour?

Vita Sackville-West built a white garden, which has forever more been copied by garden designers desperate for a small iota of inspiration. Blue gardens, hot gardens, green gardens have, as far as I am aware, all been trialled. But the idea of a yellow garden?

I am often asked by my clients to design or plant according to their taste, which is of course fine by me, but I am oft asked not to include yellows and oranges. Harsh colours apparently..Obviously followers of Degas who decried  ”What a horrible thing yellow is.”

But, but, but.

My mate Vincent of Van Gogh fame, said of yellow, ”How wonderful yellow is. It stands for the sun.”

And of course товарищ Kandinsky said of yellow: ”A yellow circle will reveal a spreading movement outwards from the center which almost markedly approaches the spectator; a blue circle develops a concentric movement (like a snail hiding in its shell) and moves away from the spectator.”

So, it can’t all be bad?


Detail of Forsythia. Described as ‘suburban’ by some. But as a hedge immune to deer and rabbit?

Kerria japonica.

Kerria japonica. Although invasive, the ‘pow of the puff-like flowers on long stems are always welcome.

Kerria flower

A detail of the Kerria flower

Berberis darwinii

The kapow of Berberis darwinii certainly warms any hedge or shrub border.

Mahonia aquifolium

Mahonia aquifolium, a sparse plant, with scented flowers. Beautiful in its own way.

Of course, there are a multitude of other plants and flowers to add…


The honourable, yet toxic buttercup



The beautiful Citisus.


Rock Rose

The lowly Rock Rose



The much persecuted ragwort. Vital for the Cinnabar moth



The elegant but toxic Euphorbia. I am told Minorca is the place to visit if this is a favourite.


yellow flag

The Yellow Flag Iris. For that waterside spot…

Then you have the roses, the primroses, the rudbekias, the aquilegias, buddleja, scabious, coreopsis, santolina, chrysanthemum, potentilla, delosperma, crocus, gerbera, geum, hemerocallis, narcissus, helianthus, kniphofia, The Simpsons, phlomis, verbascums, orchids, limnanthes, mimulus… to name but a few

Not forgetting all the yellow foliage…

The list is undeniably exciting.

Go ahead. Go grow up.

Happy exploration of the colour yellow in your already wonderful garden.

Share this article

Note to all visiting alien lifeforms: Don’t drink the water.

I am giving a talk in Horsham this very week, my dear,dear reader.

Feel free to come along if you fancy heckling me (I deserve it having once heckled Al Murray at his very first gig.)

Anyway, the talk is entitled Pesticides: A necessary Poison? Or man at his (self)destructive best?

Before we go any further, to put you in the mood so to speak.

Sit back. Enjoy.


As I say, I am giving a talk on pesticides this week. Boring to most people. But vital to humanity me thinks so here is an outline.

What is the most used pesticide we use?


water. copyright. The Taho Trader

water. copyright. The Taho Trader

Give up?

Chlorine. That safest of safe. The chemical which keeps all our water fit for drinking?

Well, yes and no. Yes in the sense it kills bacteria. No in the sense it kills aquatic life. No in the sense, if mishandled, it can create other toxic chemicals such as Chloroform. How does such a potent chemical form?

By the addition of ‘organic matter’. Urine is one example. Sweat is another. Now in sewage treatment plants this is chemically disposed of – it is the law to do so. But the chemistry is still uncertain and here is the environmental rub. When there is higher than average rainfall, the sewage plants cannot cope. They release into rivers and water-courses untreated water. One must also remember, that chlorine is used in high mounts in…public swimming pools. A place where children and some adults urinate. It is also a place where adults are made to sweat in ‘Aqua fit’ classes.Thus there have been cases of poisoning. Not many, but then who’d know the signs?

Now onto the next level of pesticide. Those used by me and you and Mr Farmer, the farmer up the road. The could be herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, biocides, molluscicides. All of which are toxic to humans in varying degrees.

As discussed elsewhere in your lifetime, certainly in these pages, we do not test for every malady. We generally test for lethality. Everything else is quietly brushed under the carpet.

How can we test for gene change?

How can we test for cognitive impairment?

Well, the answer to that is, we do. Or rather, people who see it is as vital have. And guess what. Chemicals which we use everyday have some very serious health effects. The flame retardants in your furniture for example will cause your children harm. But that is another story.

Back to pesticides.

So we are left with a situation where, according to a recent US Geological Study, 75% of air and rain water samples contained Glyphosate.  Glyphosate you may remember has been disputedly ‘proved’ by the university of Caen to be toxic to mammals.

Now if you add this to the fact that many herbicides and pesticides ‘run off’ into water-courses, not by man’s laziness, but merely by mans stupidity, we have a problem.

pesticides into ground water

pesticides into ground water

If we look at just one chemical in one area, you may get an idea of the problem.


Atrazine Usage in the US. This chemical has been banned in Europe for environmental damage.


water pollution caused by runoff

water pollution caused by runoff

You see the correlation?

Atrazine is just one chemical amongst hundreds used regularly. Organic farming does not get away from this argument lightly also. It uses toxic chemicals. Pyrethroid is a very toxic chemical to aquatic life. Heavy metals are residual for centuries in the soil. There is evidence that an organic farmer has to use more applications to get the same results as his un-organic cousin.

pesticide risk in europe

Pesticide risk in Europe

Add to that the concept that only 0.02% of all water on planet Earth is drinkable, we are heading for a very real problem.

 I must admit here that there are alternatives. We can reduce our chemical usage by accepting higher yield loss. We can change our patterns of behaviour by following older practices, such as strip planting. We can study the ecology of the planet instead of just redesigning it. Above all , we need to be educated that having an ever ageing large population is a destructive course.Despite science telling us how great it is we can live to incredible ages, I certainly don’t want to live to one hundred  years old – feeble, unable to function properly, my body failing.

Especially if the only water is poisoned.

You can see why Rutger Hauer died in the rain now…

Happy, chemical free gardening.


ps Happy World Water Day!

Share this article

Spring 2014. An innocent update.

My dear reader,

How nice to know you are here. You’ve made it through those dark days without my witterings.

No talk of insurrection this week, so all those nice people at GCHQ, NSA and all the other paranoid structures of state can rest easy. I am not intending on taking the Ukraine by force to protect ‘my people’. Or training in some desolate camp somewhere. Or converting to fundamental Zoroastrianism.

In the UK, the Spirit of Spring has unleashed a torrent of warmth and colour. Blithe though she is not!

(Just a note here. I have noticed the blackthorn is in full and beautiful burst at present, so I am fully expecting snow in the next few weeks. Beware the Blackthorn Winter they say! We’re all doomed, doomed.)

Have a listen to some nice music to rest or allay your fears. It’s fine. All will be well. As long as the Earth keeps spinning, and we keep breathing, all will be well.

Anyway, I have been busy taking some photos for you. Yes, not for me, but for you, my dearest of random homo sapiens that live here on our home planet, Prima Terra. You’ll have to excuse the focus. I dropped the camera, so need a new one, but you’ll get the idea I am sure.




broad bean

Proof that I have broad beans in flower in March! I am looking forward to ultra early crop of beans this year…


A pretty daffodil. Pretty, pretty, pretty.


Get thee away from me oh Blackthorn. Bringer of a cold second winter. Unless of course you are merely a plant and I am bowing to idiot superstition.


Blackthorn again.

lesser celandine

Lesser celandine. A beautiful early spring wild-flower. It will disappear before long and remain dormant throughout the rest of the year. If you have this in your garden, learn to love it as you will never rid yourself of it’s beautiful yellow flowers.

early flowering cherry

An early flowering cherry tree. Similar in appearance to the blackthorn, one can see the close relationship of the flowers within the rosacea family.


The hairy catkins of a crack willow. Not quite the same as the famous pussy willow, as these remain upright, but attractive nonetheless.


Quite a marvellous display I hope you agree.

Happy non-antagonised gardening.

Share this article

Democracy is dead. Go get your gardening gloves.

My dear reader,

Have you been a busy bee?

Not going extinct then?

Personally, I have had an interesting week. If you are in London or about to visit, can I recommend you go to the exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art?

The Sensing Spaces exhibit is excellent. Made me want to go and buy a piece of modern brutalism and live in it. Excellent as I say.

Royal academy

A large wooden structure by Pezo von Ellrichshausen. There is a viewing platform above.

interactive architecture

An interactive architecture. Very rarely are we made of aware of our input into our designed world, yet we have a very major role.

Go be free to explore your inner architect.

Whilst I was there, I was led on a rather different path. My brain, you see works better at tangents. I found myself asking the very vital questions:

Does Humanity live in nature or has Nature had to adapt to us?

Is humanity ‘outside’ nature anyway?

Is the idea of humans being separate from nature a political manipulation?

Do political parties espouse green ideals because it suits their cause or because they have told us to be concerned?

Given that political parties and even nations are now beholden to massive multinational corporations – effectively making the government a huge waste management service – is democracy dead?

After-all, the ‘revolution’ in Ukraine has not ended the ‘elite’ ruling – it has just replaced one set of corrupt people for another. But that is always the way with revolution.

Thus, after much soul searching I asked myself. Does The Green Party and those that sell other green political doctrines have any relevance in modern society or is it a dinosaur of the old thinking?

I must admit here, I have dallied with the idea of joining the Green Party, Mostly I must admit, not because I have read the whole party doctrine, but because it seemed to present itself with a wholesome image. A party that truly cared. But, having thought deeply over recent years, I find I am coming to the conclusion that the traditional ‘partisan politics’ of one tribe mentality does not seem to work. It is the classic divide and conquer of old.

Speaking more generally and not about the Greens, the idea of a professional politician is abhorrent. The idea that there is somehow a ‘political elite’ is equally gut-wrenchingly ridiculous. Those in the higher realms of power all seem to be the exact people I despised at school for being conceted arseholes. Head prefect, leader of the debating society, ‘most likely to be uninteresting at a social event’ kind of people, Captain of the rugger team. Do I want that kind of person in charge?

Then there are the lies. No politician answers any question directly. They spout political rhetoric without ever giving the truth.

The simple truths about where we are going or what we need to do.

For example: The European governance is so corrupt the auditors have refused to sign any documents saying otherwise. The NHS is untenable in it’s present form. There will be no state pension by 2025. The current  inflation rate is vastly higher than 2%. An economy based on house prices is selling at the most basic level, the ‘Emperors New Clothes’.

But going back to the Green Party. Does the environment have any relevance any more?

As so many of our esteemed scientists have jumped on the ‘The World is Changing’ bandwagon, I have decided to go a different way. Are we wrong? Are we being fooled? Are we too late?  I am one of those annoying people (a bit like Columbo), who look for what is being hidden. If we all get dragged along by the popular myths, we get deceived. Just look at religion…A lovely idea ruined by people. A bit like Communism.

Do we, as united individuals have more power in changing the world than those insignificant air bags at Westminster? By telling the world of our mistreatment by the shop GAME or the lies that MONSANTO say, do we have a bigger, more significant audience?

It was not a politician who told the world that the Roman Catholic Church harbours paedophiles. It was not a politician who told the world about Jimmy Saville for that matter. It was not a German politician who stood against the NAZI’s inside Germany during the war (and have never been honoured).

Better I say to go into your garden and throw your cares to the wind. Who cares? The planet certainly doesn’t. It dies, we die. Full stop.



Happy non-partisan gardening.


Share this article

The Midas Touch. The curse of Modern Humans.

Well, it’s been a few weeks my dear reader,

A few weeks in which the media have been hysterical about global warming, whilst parts of the UK floods.

If I may say at this juncture, whilst I feel sorry for those affected, the Somerset Levels and Moors were in fact an inland sea for millennia. Mankind has admittedly been draining it since the time of the Romans, but nature likes to reclaim things… The question is, why do people live in areas of flood? (Even if the flood only happens once every fifty years).


Dunwich was once a thriving port. It has long since been swallowed by the sea, leaving a small area behind, along with several ghostly myths.

One wonders why developers still build houses at ground level rather than something like this…

stilted house.

A house on stilts. Very practical in flood prone areas. The area below can provide a shelter from the summer sun, a seating area or an outdoor room.


Anyway, instead of getting hysterical, I have been working. No point in worrying about what may happen. We in Horsham had our floods before Christmas…if you want to go off on your tangent so that you can explain it all down the pub, have a read HERE.

Back to me; I also have a talk to give on the pesticides and their use so am preparing for that. Given that recent studies of major rivers and streams documented that 96% of all fish, 100% of all surface water samples and 33% of major aquifers contained one or more pesticides at detectable levels. The most common pesticides found were those typically used for lawn treatments. Other studies have determined that common pesticides at low level concentrations are highly toxic to aquatic wildlife and decreased their populations by nearly 70 percent…

These pesticides also increase the likelihood of serious nerve damage in human beings… see my blog page HERE.

The problem with all types of pesticide (and many drugs were are fed by our doctors), they are not ‘fully’ tested. Whilst the government has very stringent guidelines for the chemical companies to follow, most are based on what can only described as lethality. i.e Do they kill? However, much of the negative results found by the companies are quite often hidden or ignored.

When was the last time you read a prescription ‘side-effects’ list?

I think you’d be amused by what possible side-effects these chemicals may give you. For example, anti-depressants making you suicidal, or headache tablets…causing headaches.Apparently, according to my packet of ibuprofen a ‘lesser’ side-effect (in which you must consult a doctor) is…heart failure. I think consulting a doctor after heart failure may be a tad tricky.


The warning side-effects of ibuprofen

Now these companies have reduced these side-effects to mere statistics. A very interesting technique of distraction, whilst not actually taking any responsibility. For example, they may quote the numbers per thousand that are effected, which often sounds minimal. But given that we are a part of a global population of over 7 BILLION, these figures make quite worrying reading. For example, a drug may cause fits in one person in one thousand people, which translates as a drug that will effect 7 million people…that’s more people than the Jewish holocaust. Great thing, statistics.


Then consider this, in one small field in one small county of the UK, a farmer will spray pesticides 22 times in a year. Amazing. This is to kill weed species, molluscs, insects and fungus. Not only does this chemical warfare spread out into the wider environment, but is not an isolated incident. These chemicals leach into the ground. If the next field is also sprayed in a similar way, and the next, and the next, all this is washed into the rivers. All this without even thinking of beneficial insects or the wider food chain…

Is it any wonder biodiversity is on the wane.

But we do this to expand humanity. We do this to feed the aforementioned population of over 7 billion people. We do this because we want TV’s, Cars, Holidays to remote areas, clean water, food, luxuries, basics. Humans cannot stop this behaviour. We as a species are genetically programmed to do this no matter what the consequences. We are sociopaths on such a vast scale we cannot recognize just how destructive we are actually being. Even me writing this blog is being destructive. I am using electricity on an oil based machine with components ripped from Mother Earth. Now, I am not recommending to anybody that they immediately eviscerate themselves in order to alleviate the problem. We are where we are. Understand that the world changed the moment humanity began some 2 million years ago and it becomes much, much easier.

The planet has not been the same for tens of thousands of years. If you have any notion of there being any wild areas left on planet Earth, then you are misguided. If man has been there, then it is no longer ‘wild’. Every species on this fair, fragile planet has had to adapt to mankind or become extinct. Darwin and his co-conspirators were very, very right. It is only the animals that can adapt the most that survive. All those species will die out and there is nothing that can be done in the long term. The elephant, the rhino, the cheetah, the tiger, the great whales. The gene pool is too distorted and too small to actually provide healthy specimens. Interbreeding is already happening and profit too big a word to be ignored. Although, I hope there is somebody out there to prove me wrong.

Recently I found myself reading some books published in the 1950s and 1960s. Under the chapter titles, ‘Plant life in the civilized world’ and ‘Animal life in the civilized world’ it was explained that man effects everything that he touches. Midas in very real terms. Some things have become extinct, but other things have taken their place. According to some geologists this change mean we have entered an entirely new epoch, The Anthropocene: A time when mankind is the key to the entire global situation. An epoch where vast swathes of the animal population fail to survive, but where domestic cats, rats and rabbits will morph into other beasts. A New Dawn.

If you don’t believe me, look out into your garden. That garden would not exist without your hand. There is nothing in that garden – intended or unintended – that is not influenced by you. Any seed blown in on the wind is there because you have cleared a space for it. Any pest that exists is there because you have provided a target rich environment.

We have to accept this in order to move on from our position of failed intransigence.

We have to make a very real decision. To live and continue to expand; or to stop where we are. Stop expanding. Stop mineral exploitation. Stop clearing areas for further exploitation. Stop making new anything. Stop the vast amounts of food going to waste, which on a logical planet could feed over 2 billion people starving elsewhere. Stop building more and more houses for one family, whilst other families have 2,3 and 4 houses.standing empty for vast periods of the year.

Eventually, there will be nowhere left and then what?

So what to do?



Happy non-expansionist treaty with the garden.






Share this article

Gung-Ho. Fat Choice.

Just a brief blog this week my dear reader,

Firstly a brief moment of reflection in this year of the Wooden Horse for those whales AND dolphins killed in the past year by the Japanese, Faroe Islanders, Norwegians and fisherman of the world.

Gung Xi Fa Cai!

Right that over, somebody posted a fantastic article t’other day about bees and their eventual decline from the planet. Well, to be truthful, not exactly what it says, but it’s all pretty disastrous if you are a bee. Have a read about Plant Pathogen Virus. I suppose, seeing as Diesel pollution is stopping bees from actually finding flowers, they could be saved somehow by keeping them inside and feeding them fake nectar? I jest of course. Bees are going to become extinct in the agricultural areas of the world. We all know that bees are affected pesticides? An average field in Sussex is sprayed 22 times in a single growing season. How does one survive such onslaught?

I’m just glad we have all that cheap foreign labour invading our country. They can pollinate our orchards and field for us.

bye bye bee

Say hello to my little friend

Doom and gloom again Guy. That’s all you post.

No. I say, by immersing you in reality, you come to accept the change that is upon us.

You must sigh, take a deep breath, mourn and move on. After all the five stages of grief are: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Sadness and then Acceptance.

Go and find an animal to hug.

After all is said and done, we have a beautiful and remarkable planet.

You can either appreciate it

Get angry with it.

Or get depressed about it.

The choice, as they say, is yours to make.

What choice do you have, apart from working together?

Happy cooperative gardening.

Share this article

Natural Design ? It’s all: Sex. Sex. Sex.

I have a design question for you my dearest reader,

I have been looking at various designs recently and suddenly had a remarkable moment of clarity.

IF cars are designed by computer to gain the greatest fuel efficiency, with ergonomic and safe features to enhance the passenger experience, why are they all so different?

An answer I found online at is: “One reason is that people have different uses for cars, and another is that people have different preferences. So, in order to meet all of these different uses and preferences, we make a variety of different models! It’s like how there are so many different varieties of pens, pencils, erasers, and note paper that you can buy. You choose the ones you want to use, right?”

But pencils all have the same basic design. Pens too. (They need to fit in the hand)…

So I looked at other vehicles.

A plane has achieved pretty much the optimum shape in its short history. If it carries people or cargo, it has the same shape, but the interior is different.

fighter jet

An obsolete fighter Jet at Tangmere Museum

A train too has achieved this as seen across the world and so too have ships – seen for thousands of years, floating in every bay. Small differences give them character or purpose, but they all look remarkably similar.


Boats at Teignmouth

Boats at Teignmouth

Yet a car; that now most expensive of toys that depreciates the moment it is bought and wastes 60% of fuel just heating the air around it, seems to have a design life of its own. Square ones, round ones, ugly ones, pretty ones. Actually that last statement is wrong. If you look at modern car design, there is very rarely a pretty one. They are all masculine, brutish, powerful, committed. Plastic. There is no delicacy or finesse. The serpentine curve of the TR4 has long gone. The hand-carved walnut dash, long since replaced by polypropylene.

A racing car

A racing car of a bygone age at Brooklands Museum, Surrey.

If one is honest, by driving such an inefficient mode of transport, you are actually saying to the universe, “I am so rich I can afford to waste insane amounts of money going to a shop 600 yards away.”

Perhaps I am being disingenuine.

But I’d like to make a point. If one look at flowers for example. They have a very real purpose. The first flowers were the Magnolias, which are very basic sexual organs, designed primarily to attract insects to do the dirty and haphazard work of fertilization. Over the course of millions of years, we now see a multitude of flower shapes, sizes and designs. To me the most intriguing is the compound flower, such as the daisy – a design that actually involves hundreds, perhaps thousand of miniature flowers. Or the Umbilliferous plants, quite stunning in their own particular right. But then again, the most populous of flower designs on the planet is the orchid with over 26,000 accepted variations. Beautiful, delicate, simple and devastatingly successful.

An umbilliferous flower

An umbilliferous flower

But this is my point, natural evolution has led to various designs. The car on the other hand has been designed by as single species – man and his understanding of engineering and physics and thus, up  to a point in history, there should be quite rightly a multitude of designs. That is UNTIL a computer gets involved. Computers are logical. Computers are simple. They are hopefully programmed to look for the most simple and efficient process to make your car work better. Yet we still have a vast array of ugly, inefficient vehicles. It just doesn’t make sense.

A modern car should by now look like this:

Bluebird electric car

Bluebird electric car. Designed to reduce wind resistance, thus gaining fuel efficiency which in the modern age is the priority.

A square car like a Landrover Discovery should not exist. It is quite plainly not designed to reduce drag. Ergo, neither should many, many others because they are are not saving you and I money and they are not environmentally efficient. They are extravagances of the designer. All those curves, all those extras, the growling radiator grill, the shaped wing mirror are not designed for least wind resistance. They are designed for effect.

At university my dissertation asked the question: What is design classic?

Apart from the fact the actual writing was self indulgent tripe (nothing changes), I came to the conclusion longevity is the greatest asset to a design.

Thus, ladies and gentlemen, the greatest design classic is: A BALL OF STRING. 

ball of string

ball of string

A design that has not changed in millenia. It cannot be improved upon. There is no need. It is quite simply perfect.

That is what a car should be. A perfect piece of engineering that offers us maximum comfort with a minimum of expense. But it isn’t is it?

Form should follow function.

Then I thought, perhaps we are being led by the designers minds. I extended this to what a car represents and the most obvious answer that came to mind was: A sexual organ. A penis extension.


We all know of the idea that a car to a teenager represents mobility, status and sex appeal?

An 18 year old is more sold on the idea of driving a Ferrari than a Ford for obvious reasons. We have often heard it said within psychology that certain cars supposedly represent virility. The powerful, brute force of car engines dictate to others on the road: Our power, our strength our success. Thus the designs around the engine supposedly also project this.

So to take that point a little further. We, or rather those of us who can afford to waste money driving a car, are driving in giant a phallus. The ultimate in dick swinging. (I must point out here, for the sake of gender equality, we could be driving big powerful vaginas, but it somehow doesn’t feel quite right. Unless you transpose the soft interior to that of a womb, the engine as your mothers heart, the pedals as the umbilical chord the petrol as your fathers’ semen…)

So when we look at say for examples’ sake a Bentley Continental as below – A car that costs a ridiculous amount of money without actually doing anything much different from a Peugot – we are supposed to say wow. But are we really?




Perhaps when we look at a Bentley or a Bugatti or a Lamborghini we are actually appreciating this:

the genitals of Michaelangelo's David

the genitals of Michaelangelo’s David

Of course there is nothing wrong with appreciating art. Is there?

Perhaps for continuity we should all just go and drive one of these…

purple passion car

purple passion car

After-all if we are prepared to put our noses in that most beautiful of Mother Natures’ sexual organs – the flower – why not accept we are driving around in a designers wet dream.

Happy rethinking your design in the garden.


Nb… A word to the wise. Do not go to Mercedes Benz World at Weybridge and ask if how Maybach in the S class differs from the power plant in the King Tiger.  You may not like the answer.


Share this article

iGardening. Vini. Vidi…ardua res hæc est opibus non tradere mores

Dear reader,

Apparently it is still winter in the UK. However it has been so mild, with temperatures of 10 degrees on most days, you’d not believe it. I have roses still in bloom, yet I have an inkling that it will snow in the not too distant future.

On the odd occasion we have had a frost, mother nature has created some amazing work.

frost pattern

Frost pattern on car bonnet


Sorry to introduce such a glum note but I had an interesting phone call this week from the RSPB.

I am sad to say that the humble swallow is yet another bird on the edge of oblivion. According to the latest research, it is facing a 75% decline in the next decade due to habitat clearance in its wintering grounds and also due to idiot hunting in Southern Europe. This is not the only species either. Any migrating bird, flying over Spain, Malta or Italy is receiving the same treatment. Wood Pigeon, Song Thrush, Martins and Swift – to name a few – are in decline.


Swallows on a phone wire in late summer

I would have loved to see the passenger pigeon flocks of North America, which 2014 incidentally is the hundredth year of its extinction.  I wonder if my grand-children will feel the same of the swallows?

passenger pigeon slaughter

A pile of passenger pigeons shot for ‘sport’. Where once a flock would take several hours to fly overhead, the species is now extinct.

I once heard a story of how the fish stocks were once so plentiful off Newfoundland the ships were actually slowed down by the sheer size of the shoals and I have heard similar stories of whiting shoals off the Isle of Man stretching 30 miles long by 4 miles wide. These shoals existed in the lifetime of my father, yet we now have entire areas of once thriving sea that is virtual desert.

Then there were the North American Buffalo.

I find it amazing that in the 21st Century our children are told stories of our ignorant ancestors yet we still make the same mistakes…

If you want to save this vital bird from decline, please join the RSPB and donate. You may not think much of the bird, but it removes a vast amount of flying pests from your garden each year, as do song thrushes, swifts and martins.

Yet I have to remind myself that the planet has been here before. Vast herds of Styracosaurus or Apatosaurus used to walk the planet long before us hominids.

On a more cheerful note, I am in the wonderful position to be looking for more clients. Usually, my books are full, but I have just taken on an excellent assistant gardener so I have been able to free up some time.

It is interesting to note here that currently in the UK 70% of teenagers think that gardening is a job for people who can’t do anything else. A menial job of the lowest order. Have we become so detached from ‘nature’ that we no longer recognise the intricate and complex systems at work around us? Is this not an example of the education system and its failure to relate how much one needs to know to be a half decent horticulturist? No wonder every kid who I speak with leaving Uni wants to get into TV presenting. Don’t do it. Been there, done that. I have no friends left from the TV industry. Shallow, insecure, two-faced and self-serving – constantly looking for the next window of opportunity to make a badly made programme. (Well that’s how I was described anyway). Perhaps there are nice people in the industry, but I never really met many, one or four perhaps. Let that be a lesson. Nothing can be gained by adding to the nonsense spouted by the ‘big glass teat’ as the millionaire author Stephen King has described it on quite a few occasions.

Never mind. My gain. I’m paid to see more beautiful private gardens. Marvellous.

Notwithstanding and in total contradiction to my previous statement, I have been mulling the idea of starting a Youtube channel. Aimed primarily at teaching the yoof or anybody who is interested for that matter, the basics of life in your garden in a light and entertaining way. Strictly educational mind you. No pap and lowest common denominator ‘x factor gardening on ice’ stuff either.

Watch this space.

N.b. Like so many abortive projects, it may never get further than the story board.

Happy, life in the spotlight of gardening.



Share this article

3 is not the magic number. But it is a nice number nevertheless!

My dear reader,

I’m going to do a number on you today.

It was once said that 3 is the magic number. It isn’t. Good song though it was.

According to popular myth 666 is the number of the devil. It isn’t. It is actually 444, the number of man is 666 and the number of God is 888. Interestingly 777 is the number of completion – so that is why the seventh wave is always the biggest?

I am not a God fearing man, so personally, I don’t hold credence with ‘god numbers’; fascinating though it is that man, throughout history, has repeatedly found symmetry and correlations in numbers.

But then we are genetically programmed to find patterns and familiarity in everything.

 telephone poll

A telephone poll?

Life itself is a mathematical journey. I must admit here, that at school, I hated maths. The teachers were as inspiring as listening to Pol Pot talk about his toilet habits – which he did often. So as all children do under the glare of monotony, I was switched off. To this day, I still do not know long division. What does one do with the remainder?

But, my enquiring mind has allowed me to escape the terminal pull of  a lifetime of mathematical decline. I can happily say that The London Oratory School did push me to learn. However, not because it was a great school – it bred in me contempt and little more. It pushed me to rid myself of the idiotic notions they espoused and find out for myself.  I am also lucky that my father said he loves maths. I never understood what he meant, but as I say, a statement like that gets you piqued. So, I started simply. I found things I was interested in.

Music is one such example of perfect maths. You know the story, Pete Townsend of ‘The Who’ came up with the idea of the ‘Lifehouse’. The theory of inputting life ‘information’ into the synthesiser, which would generate music based on that information. The result, was spectacular:

But I hear you say. Oh no. Not another random blog from the master of saying not much. Where does this fit into the garden?

Well, mathematics is as mathematics does. Look about you. It is in everything you see, touch, smell. Our architecture, our design, even your computer –  translating all this thought into a simple series of 1 and 0′s. Your life, my life, our lives are now digitised. But, as many forget they and we are part of nature. As I have said before, we are not separate from nature, we are part of the maths.  So, it is down to you to recognise numbers are everywhere in ‘nature’ too!

Lets start at Fibonacci.

The man who has his name attached to a series of numbers that are far, far more ancient than his medieval observations.

Here’s the easy bit for me. Roll VT


But does it end at Fibonacci and Lucas? Nope. As in the original link, there are the all important Prime Numbers.

Let’s not forget pairs. If it were not for pairs, you and I would not be here. Pairs of chromosomes, genes, DNA…”the animals went in two by two” after all. (They didn’t actually, that is another myth to fit the song. Read the bible. It doesn’t mention pairs).

READ HERE for the basic ‘pair’ instructions for plants…although plants are not in exclusive relationships you understand and their cells are vastly different from ours.



plant vs. animal cell I could go on here about cell cycles, chemical responses, photosynthesis, the laws of thermodynamics, gravity etc. But I won’t.

Importantly there is a group, called NERDS for NATURE. A pairing of technologists and environmentalists searching for answers to global problems. I have great faith in humanity and the pairs of chromosomes therein. Support them. Nurture them.



And then there is the randomness of chaos theory – fractals. You can watch the basic version,

Or the advanced…

Music to the eyes yes? Immerse now your aural senses…


In short, go and be free. Explore your mathematical world. Happy, corollary in the garden.

Share this article

A wondrous New Year is afoot! Carpe Diem. Quam minimum credula postero!

My dear reader.

Exciting times lay ahead. I have no idea what will happen in 2014, but I suspect it is going to be a rollercoaster of great, sometimes totally surprising brilliance.

I sit here, in my hovel, listening to the rain spatter against the windows and am happy in the knowledge Spring is only just around the corner. The narcissi bulbs are poking through the sodden ground. The Hellebores are showing those beautiful crowns of unopened flower, life is returning; the sun God was successfully reborn.

You may or may not be aware, Britain is being lashed by storms. I find it all rather amusing people cower in their homes in weather like this, rather than going out and embracing the storm. I am not suggesting one puts your life in danger by standing on the seafront, tempting Poseidon. I am merely suggesting the world is a beautiful place full of wonder if one only looks. I must say that I am aware that waterproof clothing is pretty shabby and I wish I had the money to sue some of these companies who lie so readily on their labels, but their time will come. The fates are watching and Karma has a long reach in many lifetimes.

Bitter? Moi?

Not at all. There is nothing I like more than to put my trust in somebody only to find my heart has been deceived. As Oscar Wilde once said to me whilst enjoying a Chelsea bun and coffee in a cafe in a sunswept Holborne, “Deceiving others. That is what the world calls a romance.”

Whilst talking of Romance, a friend nudged me in the direction of Paul Nash.

I have to point out here, Paul Nash is one of my favourite artists. I had just forgotten to look at his work for some months now, so the nudge was very welcome.

Wittenham Clumps. Paul Nash

Wittenham Clumps. Paul Nash

I have always seen the landscape in the same way. Blocks of texture and colour. Yet have never been able to get that emotion across abley. Perhaps I do not practice enough – after-all, painting is a skill which is soon forgotten. Perhaps this year, as I am tired of remaining tied to my rather unsatisfactory camera. I love photography and I love the emotion that can sometimes (by an excellent artist) portray some of the awe. But somehow, it will never do the landscape true justice. Not unless you make the image huge, engulfing your entire world.

David Hockney painting a landscape.

David Hockney painting a landscape.


Referring to my own efforts at capturing moments, I fail to express the emotion. The images are indeed just images. Nice though they are.


A view

How does one capture the majesty of whole scene with the restriction of a small viewfinder?

The flooded adur

The flooded adur

The next one isn’t you, it’s Ansel Adams! (You are supposed to say)

I know. A true master. Now I am not comparing myself to his work. I use some crappy digital camera that was once described as of the 35 mm standard. He used a beautiful large format camera. He also had immense patience and ‘the eye’ for a shot.

Ansel Adams. Tenaya Lake Clouds

Ansel Adams. Tenaya Lake Clouds

But does it truly capture everything? What is happening to the left or to the right? What were the sounds?

You and I look at this picture and see overwhelming silence perhaps. Majesty. Splendour. A lost minute. A moment of unerring beauty. It is our moment given to us by Ansel Adams.

However, Mr Adams may have been playing ‘The Last Round-Up’ by George Olsen and His Orchestra on some tired old wind up gramophone whilst waiting for this moment. Imagine that.

Who knows, what he was thinking?

Extend the thought. Perhaps, he was listening to this?

Adds a different quality to the image. A frenetic beauty.  Nature through they eyes of Jackson Pollock.

It puts a different slant on the picture…

What’s’ for supper?

Going back to Paul Nash, emotion is big part of how we see the world. Emotion given to us is something to be treasured.

However, there are pitfalls. The painting below was seen for many years as Van Gogh’s last. Much was said at my Art College about the black clouds, the crows, the mournful feel. In the film, upon finishing the canvas he immediately went and shot himself. So we are lent emotion by critics who have no idea what Vincent was actually thinking.

If you were depressed and merely trying to show how emotionally attached you were to a landscape, would you like it if some unknown person suggested it was a bit glum?

Personally, I think this image is beautiful. It has noise, it has movement, it has vibrancy. It has life. The birds are flying toward you, the dark clouds being pushed away by the blue. The darkness is behind you, receding.

Wheat Field With Crows. Vincent Van Gogh.

Wheat Field With Crows. Vincent Van Gogh.


The painting below was Vincent Van Gogh’s last painting. As an artist who feels the world, looks at the way it moves, the way it caresses, the way everything is so unerringly beautiful; I can fully understand where Mr Van Gogh was going with his art. He was trying to show his understanding of the complexities in the most simple way he could. To move the paint. But then, I never met the man. It is merely my supposition.

He may have just been taking the piss out of everyone…

Cheese on toast anyone?

Tree roots and trunks. Van Gogh

Tree roots and trunks. Vincent Van Gogh

Happy, emotionally complex gardening.

Share this article