27 July 2013

My Second Tatton Flower Show

Yesterday I went with some friends  to the Tatton Flower show.
(For the sake of privacy I haven't included photos of my friends. All the people in these images are 'the general public'.)

Last year I came away with a rug, this year it was a hat.

This was a purely expedient purchase of course because it was very hot and sunny and I'd forgotten my sunglasses.

As you can see Tatton was a sea of white: white marquees, white cotton, white flesh, white hair.

The middle-aged, middle-classes were out in force for a day of ice-cream eating and the buying of stuff.

I don't think Tatton should market itself as a flower show. The more accurate title would be the 'RHS Eating and Buying Show at Tatton'.

Nothing wrong with that I suppose. I am one of the tribe after all, fully taking advantage of the opportunities to eat and buy, flowing from tent to tent in the river of day trippers, with my plastic bags rustling, and my fingers sticky from melted ice-cream. And I did admittedly have a good day with my friends. That is all you can wish for isn't it? Good times with friends.

But ... but ... would it be outrageous and immensely naive to wonder if a 'flower show' could be enjoyed without the almighty consumption of stuff? Do you remember taking the children to museums during the summer holidays and feeling aggrieved that the highlight of the trip for them was the shop at the end? The sight of a dinosaur skeleton wasn't enough. The print of the dinosaur on an eraser or pencil sharpener (and eating an ice-cream) was apparently the more enjoyable element of the visit. Sound familiar?

On a (slightly) lighter note, here is this year's 'Alpha male posing in a show garden':

As compared to last year's specimen of 'cool dude' this one left his brown shoes at home and chose to wear his pointy shoes instead. It was too hot for navy blazers so he and his friend decided the blue stripy shirt and skinny jeans combo would convey the right 'relaxed but authoritative' air.

I do wonder who was the object of their peacock display. How many commissions to design a similar garden do you think they made during the show? I don't think my fellow flustered matrons even considered it. Though we do appreciate the effort   ;-)

15 July 2013

Study On Gardening and Depression

Gardeners World magazine has published a survey that found 80 per cent of gardeners feel satisfied with their lives compared with 67 per cent of non-gardeners.

The media have translated this finding into 'gardening beats depression' headlines; Carol Klein appeared on BBC Breakfast and breathlessly (why are all female TV gardeners so short of breath?) showing us how to sow some seeds; and a professor of Essex University has responded with:

'there would be a large potential benefit to individuals, society and to the costs of the health service if all groups of people were to self-medicate more with what we at Essex call green exercise.'

Regular readers (!) of Garden65 will guess where I am going with this ... once again commentators are viewing the world from our society's current capitalistic and scientific standpoint. Why do they think you have to DO something outdoors to get any benefit?

Is it the 'gardening' that makes people happy or merely the 'being outside'? 

How do you define a gardener? I'm sure there are people who follow Carol's every instruction, and there are others who some how or other work up a sweat in their garden and consider themselves to have done some 'green exercise'. And then again there are gardener's like me (I'm sure I'm not alone here) who buy a £1 plant at a car boot sale, shove it in the ground with little skill, then spend a couple of hours sitting in the garden drinking coffee and reading a book. The activity level of my type of gardener is very low, yet I would 100% agree with the statement 'being in the garden makes me happy'.

It's the sky above your head and the wind in your hair that is the important factor, not what you are doing while out there.  The survey confirms this by finding 75% of fishermen (and women) are just as satisfied with their lives as gardeners. Surely fishing is one of the least strenuous hobbies of all? The really significant finding was that the important thing as far as 'happiness' is concerned is having any hobby. In fact half of the respondents said their favourite hobby is computing or gaming.

I would imagine it is doing something you find meaningful that is the key - not the jumping about.

Dear Monty was right when he said it's the earth that heals.

12 July 2013

Close Look At An Onion Flower

spathe of onion flower

The onions on Allotment90 are just about to flower.

If you innocently Google 'onion flower' you'll discover a torrent of onion flower anxiety. Once the flowers appear all is lost - your onions won't be winning any prizes in your local vegetable growing competition.

These may be the cries of alarm from experienced allotmenteers, and we may indeed rue the day the onions flowered, but for the moment I'm enjoying them. The stage they are at the moment - bursting with youthful ardour - brings an extravagant exoticism to the allotment.

And of course, they foster the need to learn new words ...

The thin, papery case courageously holding back the onrush of little flowers in the picture above is called a spathe, which is a form of bract.

perianth in onion flower

The individual flowers themselves (because we have already noted an onion flower is really an inflorescence of many flowers) haven't quite opened yet, so the perianth is still neat and virginal.

'The perianth?' I hear you cry. This is the calyx and corolla together.

'Oh no!,' I hear you cry, 'when will she stop with the words?' Not just yet, I reply.

I have a diagram up my sleeve ..

And now it all makes sense.

The Calyx
The calyx is the outermost whorl of a flower. It consists of sepals, that are green.

  • The calyx encloses and protects the inner whorls in the bud stage.
  • Since the sepals contain chlorophyll, they can also synthesize food

The Corolla.
The corolla is found on the inside of the calyx and is the most conspicuous part in the flower because it is usually white/brightly coloured . This whorl is made up of petals which are much larger than sepals.  The calyx and corolla together are called the perianth .

  • The brightly-coloured corolla attracts agents of pollination such as insects and birds.
  • The corolla encloses and protects the stamens and pistil.

10 July 2013

A Dude In the Allotment

Managed to drag bored, 'post A Levels,' son to the allotment.

The aviator sunglasses and Toms preserved his cool.

Isn't it looking lush?

All Sally's work

I've discovered the equation   'allotment = nagging feeling of guilt'.