Garden Glimpses (4) - more Simon Barnes curation


Wild most places. Woody, bushy. Produce hips, insect pollinated, seeds dispersed by birds.

Domesticated by cutting - cloning. So, for the flower and not food. Originally leisured elite as demonstration of power and wealth. Also for scent, oil and attar for hygiene issues.

Now the most popular cut flower. A gift as an expression of love and desire - Greek Aphrodite and Roman Venus; gods of love, lust, beauty, pleasure, passion, procreation. Now also Valentine's. Purity in religion as well - Virgin Mary, the rosary, Rose Windows (Chartres, York), Islamic gardens.

Common symbol - see below. Socialism too after French Revolution (1848).
A film - 'The Name of the Rose' with Sean Connery.
A saying - 'smell the roses' - a short escape from the cares of work and family.

Tudor Rose

Created in the wake of England's Wars of the Roses, fought between the houses of Lancaster 
and York, as they claimed, reclaimed and ousted one another from the throne. The name 'War of the Roses' was awarded by Henry VII after the event. He chose the red and white colour scheme for his Tudor rose when he married Elizabeth of York in January 1486.

Yorkshire Cricket Rose

Lord Hawke, in the early days of his captaincy, designed the white rose badge. It is not a real flower. Based on a hedge rose, the eleven petals represent the players. 



Latin - digitalis. Poisenous. First described by Leonard Fuchs of fuchsia fame 1542.

1785 first reported for treatment of dropsy by William Withering. Active ingredient is digoxin - slows heart rate in atrial fibrillation and improves heart muscle function in heart failure. Therapeutic dose close to toxic so easy to overdose.

No one knows who or how discovered. A herbal remedy, many of which attributed to 'wise woman' who understood plant secrets. Is it magic or science? Sadly many a witch suffered.


This is a ragged specimen but it is bamboo.
Its main attribute is strength and often seen in Chinese construction sites. 
Fast growing up to 10ft tall and 1 ft diameter.

Loads of other uses - weapons (sticks and spears),
musical instruments, baskets, furniture, fishing traps 
and poles, floating houses, food, garments.

Home to the giant panda.

Garden Glimpses (3) courtesy of Simon Barnes


Mary's gold - a religious name then. 
Flowering plant, coloured leaves and nectar for insect
pollination rather than wind. 100 million years ago when we were
hunter-gatherers in Africa.
Celebrations including funerals. Central to Indian religious festivals - I
got a garland as I got off the plane.
Secrete a chemical that repels pests and worms. Useful for tomatoes and corpses.
Flavouring in cooking, wine and porridge.
And a film - 'The Exotic Marigold Hotel'.


I read somewhere that they were good for caterpillars. Talboys has a few clumps next to the boulodrome, so he kindly donated one. No caterpillars yet.

European originally, more widespread now. In abandoned human dwellings along with ashes, bones and rubbish - 'all that is least glorious'. Also land next to farms and roadside verges, at the expense of wild flowers.

It's hairy. They stick into skin and deposit very irritating chemicals, producing dermatitis. Defence against grazing animals.

They do have their uses. Clothing (eg. uniforms), rucksacs, green-yellow dye, food (tea, beer) and some people rub the leaves on aching joints.

And it's a myth that dock is the antidote. But it works for me.


Did anyone know it is the BP logo?

Cultivated for 5000 years. Edible roots known as  Jerusalem artichokes. Seeds for bread and porridge. Oil for cooking. Waste fed to livestock.

An obsession of the bloke with one ear. He painted loads. Said to be a genius.

They look great. This one is a bush.


Garden Glimpses (2) - Dead plant, fertile ground

pot stuck dry brown skeleton
 green cradle
warm blue and white endless life


Garden glimpses - grass amongst others June 2023

Simon Barnes tells us early humans lived in African savannah. Endless acres of grass, eaten by mammals, in turn eaten by us. No need for insects, just wind. Grows from the bottom, so chop top off and it keeps growing. Next, we kept herds and moved on when the grass was spent (pastoralism) - semi-nomadic. Eventually horses as well for transport. Then storing grass for winter (silage). Then the rich people enclosed grassland to make money, leaving poor people with very little.

Our sense of well-being is intimately linked with grass. Hence lawns, writes Jane Shilling of the Telegraph, beginning with the likes of Capability Brown, have become almost sacred spaces, all over the world. Manicured to death.

Sports rely on immaculate grass - soccer, rugby, cricket, golf, lawn tennis.

Paul Robbins asserts that lawns now control us - Joni Mitchell wrote a song 'hissing of summer lawns' referring to water sprinklers. Note the exclusivity of Oxbridge lawns and the occasional curt 'keep off the grass' sign. No upstart plants. Untidiness is a loss of control of our lives.

There is a movement to encourage wild garden growth rather than well-tended, including allowing weeds and wild flowers to flourish in lawns. Supported by the horticultural society. 

We've had lawns wherever we've lived. Except now, where we have grass in pots, along with nettles and other weeds. And aquilegia.

So I've been let off the leash. And, I think we can make an exception for the holy 22 yards.


Newcastle and Alnwick

Barter books, Alnwick centre, St Jame's Park, apartment.

Fartown gave up in the second half. Saints romped it.