15 February 2013


Here is one of those 'what the hell is she talking about?' blog posts I know you will miss (and which I will miss making).

There is a new app called SunCalc that calculates the movement of the sun around a given point on any given date.

This first image is then a perfect illustration of the woeful amount of sun Garden65 gets on a normal  February afternoon.

The large yellow crescent shows the full extent of the sun's movement during the whole year. Thus on a summer's day it will rise behind the house across the road and sink behind the western horizon along the line of gardens to the left of this picture.

But we are in winter at the moment, so the yellow line on the right shows where the sun is rising now, ie, on this side of the road, and the red line has sunset behind the houses at the back of the garden.

Hope this is making sense so far.

The thin orange line along the edge of the crescent illustrates the height of the sun in the sky. The nearer it is to the outer edge, the lower the sun.

This map below of what will happen on this year's summer solstice hopefully makes things crystal clear. You can see the yellow line in the crescent is now on the inner edge indicating the sun is at its highest trajectory in the sky.

Isn't it interesting that the sun doesn't rise and set on a simple east/west line?

I love this kind of thing, but wonder what practical use it has. Perhaps it would be useful if you were buying a house and wanted to know if the garden would get any sun. It certainly convinces me not to buy a house across the road because those gardens must be in permanent shade.


On The Cusp

Dear Reader,

very soon I'll be taking a break from blogging. Garden65 was begun on 20th February 2012, so it seems fitting to end this digital adventure on 20th February 2013.

However, rest assured, I don't plan to retire the old warhorse completely. For one thing, I'm sure something interesting will grab my attention and I won't be able to resist telling you all about it, but for another, there is Allotment90, a story waiting to unfold. Who knows what will happen in that new arena?

Thus we find ourselves not only on the cusp between the winter of an old year and the spring of a new one, but also between Garden65 and Allotment90.

13 February 2013

Guerrilla Love

lots of crochet hearts

As you know, last week I produced industrial quantities of crocheted heart.

These have been commissioned by a local florist to hang from the presentation boxes of Valentine's Day flowers. I'm very nervous about this. My crochet skills are still at beginner level. I just hope the people who receive them don't know anything about crochet and don't notice the wonky stitches.

So why then am I leaving even more woolly hearts in public parks? Dunno. I blame it on The Muse.

Yes, this exercise had to be undertaken in a blizzard.

Aww, a lonely heart.

I didn't put an uplifting comment on them this time because the hearts speak for themselves. It being Valentine's Day and all.

12 February 2013

Gaia's Sighs

It is suggested that birds manage to fly long distances from overwintering to nesting sites, or from distant car park to home loft, by using a combination of an internal magnetic compass and navigation by the sun and stars. Scientists are now suggesting they use another method: infrasound. Birds know the sound of their destination and travel towards that.

Infrasound is the very low frequency sound made by the earth itself.

Deep currents in the oceans produce a sound that can travel thousands of miles. Humans can't hear it, except with sensitive equipment, but animals can. We know whales make low sounds that can be heard by other whales far away, and elephants too apparently, but now it is thought birds can pick up these frequencies too.

Volcanoes and movements in the atmosphere can also create low sound.

I REALLY REALLY INSIST you click this link to hear recordings of infrasound - it'll blow your mind!

It is so incredibly beautiful and haunting, it's amazing to think the earth is rumbling around us all the time and we are oblivious.

Then again, perhaps we are aware. Our ears and brains pick it up, and our subconscious notes it, but that awareness doesn't float into our consciousness. Which implies we too know the sound of our home. Maybe it explains why we feel relaxed, and 'at home' in certain places.  Perhaps there is a deep rumbling sound, or song of the earth, that our bodies recognise and respond to by letting go of tension. If you think it about recordings from inside the womb are similar to these. These then are the sound of Mother Earth.

I'd better stop there - the inner hippy is getting out.

You HAVE clicked that link, haven't you?

8 February 2013

Indie Allotments

It comes to us all in the end. Gardening I mean. Even cutting edge trendy people succumb.

Tracey Thorn, who used to be in 'Everything But The Girl' in the 80s (remember them?) now does a bit of garden blogging.

However, she doesn't adopt the apologetic tone of Garden65. Instead she sees growing things as creatively subversive:

"What I realised was that there is a DIY quality to allotments, which reminds me of the atmosphere of the indie record scene that I grew up with. It’s a bit rough round the edges, a bit alternative, but at the same time extremely industrious."

I must remember that when my children next look at me and my trowel with a patronising sympathy.

But it seems even the children of indie musicians have their doubts on the acceptability of garden love. Tracey took her children to a garden open day:

"The kids were patient enough, bless them, as they tried to fathom the reasons why I would want to look at someone else’s beans when I have my own growing at home, but finally my nine year-old came up with an analogy that was the only way he could make any sense of it – “This is like Lego for you, isn’t it Mum?”

Tracey Thorn

If I Were Famous

If I was famous, say a famous writer .. er, no, that's not imaginative enough .. if I was a famous actress .. no, everyone wants to one of them .. if I was a famous .. um, garden designer ... pah! ... if I was a famous .. mountaineer .. oo, no, unlikely .. well, just say if I was well known for something and a weekend colour supplement asked me a list of questions designed to reveal the hidden me, then my answer to the question 'what is your favourite smell?' would be 'hyacinths'.

4 February 2013

No More Moths

The Garden Dart.  Declined by 98%

The trouble with having an interest in the natural world is that there is always bad news.

Here is some more: the charity Butterfly Conservation has issued a report on the moth population of the UK.  They studied a 40 year period from 1968 to 2007 (coincidentally a time frame we the readers and writers of this blog have lived through) and not unsurprisingly found the majority of species studied have declined, some, like the Garden Dart above, by 98%.

The causes are probably habitat loss, with perhaps light pollution and of course chemical poisoning. Chris Packham is angry: 'Ultimately, the wider countryside is becoming a desert very rapidly.'

Obviously this has a huge knock-on effect on the animals that feed on moths. Packham again: "The general public's hearts are not going to be bleeding for the Double Dart moth, but they would be bleeding for all the birds that feed on its larvae."

The Double Dart. Declined by 98%

 Strangely the numbers of continental moths has increased. Apparently the result of global warming.

The Least Carpet. Increased by 74,684% !

We're all going to hell in a handcart.

3 February 2013

Sunday Breakfast In The Sun

(Here's another attempt to blog from my bed using the IPad. Apologies for poor quality pics and layout, but in my defence it's Sunday)

Did you see Monty's new programme?

I know we were meant to listen politely to Monty as he strolled round the gardens, absorbing snippets of cultural history along the way, but I couldn't help being distracted. Did you see that sunshine?! Sunshine! I haven't seen that much gorgeousness in literally years.

If I had really been there with him (perhaps as a lowly tea maker to the film crew) I don't think I could have listened quietly in a suitably reverential manner, but would have shed as many layers of clothes as decency allows then gone skipping off down those long paths, waving my arms about in that heat (can you remember heat?), and loudly exclaiming "woo hoo!"

When the sponginess of Manchester gets on top of me the dream landscape I like to escape to in my head is the wide expanse of a Danish beach (or the pier at Southwold - depends on how strong the need for coffee is). It's the huge horizon I crave. But the creative muse has missed a trick hasn't she? She forgot the gift of heat and fierce sun.

So, pardon me while I have my second Sunday breakfast croissant in a French garden.

I'm not sure if Monty is here with me. He's probably a bit high maintenance (aren't they all?), but that little car would be useful to get the papers with. Do they sell The Observer in France?