Seventy at Seventy

Life Begins at 70


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[09] From Little Acorns

[09] From Little Acorns – a Pictorial Blog about Trees

I love everything about trees – their trunks, branches, leaves and flowers; their seasonal changes; silhouettes and mistletoe … You can see some of my tree pictures in my posts about Spring and Autumn and Winter. Most of what you will find in The Year is also trees. But I have lots more!

 

Well, it was impossible to define Grass very clearly in taxonomic terms and it won’t surprise you to know that Trees are even more difficult. We think of trees as tall plants with a woody trunk and branches. We may sometimes loosely include tree ferns, bananas and bamboos as trees and because of their structure we may exclude palms.

 

The top-level classification of plants is into Angiosperms (producing flowers and seeds within fruits) and Gymnosperms (producing unenclosed seeds such as cones.) Taxonomy in the plant world is developing and there are many levels. To find most trees we go down from Angiosperms to Monocots, Eudicots and Rosids to the order Rosales where we find roses, strawberries, apples, almonds, hawthorn, figs, mulberries, breadfruit, nettles, hops and cannabis – some of which are trees and some are not.

On the other side, coniferous trees form the largest group within the Gymnosperms!

 

This blog is about trees and when I use the word ‘tree’ I mean a large plant with a woody trunk and branches. I don’t know enough about them to be able to identify species. Here are some pictures of trees of various types and sizes, closer views of tree trunks and even some pictures of dead trees, some cut to reveal tree rings. Pictures are vaguely ordered but still a bit random.

‘Mighty oaks from little acorns grow’ is a well-known saying that means ‘Great things may come from small beginnings.’ It has been a proverbial saying for many centuries in several forms. The ‘mighty’ oaks can be ‘great’, ‘tall’, ‘sturdy’ or just ‘big.’

Chaucer in 1374 said “as an ook cometh of a litel spyr,” where ‘spyr’ or spire is a sapling before the word ‘acorn’ had developed.

Originally ‘akerne’ or ‘acharn’ meant ‘fruit of the enclosed land,’ and it was applied to the most important forest fruit, the fruit of the oak tree. Chaucer called them ‘achornes of okes.’ Eventually they were seen as cognate with ‘corn’ or ‘oak-horn’ and the modern spelling ‘acorn’ emerged.

 


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[03] By any Other Word

[03] By any Other Word – a Pictorial Blog of Roses.

You may recognize my quotation from the play Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare although it is often misquoted as ‘By any Other Name,’ and it’s probably often misunderstood. It really says nothing about roses!

It comes after another misunderstood quotation, ‘Wherefore art thou Romeo?’ which does not mean, ‘Where are you, Romeo?’ It means, ‘Why are you Romeo?’ or ‘Why are you the person called “Romeo”?’

The trouble was that Romeo was a Montague and Juliet was a Capulet – and the Montagus and Capulets were bitter rivals in a long-standing family feud. Juliet wanted to say that the person she loved was exactly the same person he would be if he was not a Montague and she used the analogy,

‘What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other word would smell as sweet.’

I won’t give away the plot but Romeo and Juliet isn’t considered a Comedy. It’s a Tragedy.

But my blog definitely is about roses. I left them out of Garden Flowers and I left them out of Wild Flowers.

I have gathered lots of pictures from lots of places. They come in various sizes and types but the best I could do is a very rough sort of grouping by colour.

 

 

 

 


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[01] All Flesh is as Grass

[01] All Flesh is as Grass – a Blog about Grass, Reeds and Ferns

It’s not about botany and the botany is complicated. After [00] Lichen, Moss and Fungus I thought the next general blog topic should include both grass and ferns, which are not particularly related to each other. But there will be a botanical introduction. (Don’t worry, there won’t be a test.)

Grass and Reeds

I turned to Wikipedia, as always, and for ‘Grass’ it took me to the family Poaceae, a very large almost ubiquitous family of flowering plants (with about 12 000 species) , including bamboos and cereal crops. They have hollow stems and narrow alternate leaves. Variously named grasslands including pampas, prairie and savannah make up 40% of the land area of Earth and grass plays its part in other habitats such as wetlands and forests.

In its wisdom Wikipedia added that Seagrasses, (four separate families,) Rushes (Juncaceae) and Sedges (Cyperaceae) are not actually grasses although there are superficial similarities.

Anyway I though reeds were like grasses so I looked them up and the answer was glaringly obvious. Reeds are several grass-like plants including some grasses, some sedges and some from some other families!

So I’m stepping up a level and my definition of grasses may include all of the order Poales, so I will include all grasses and reeds. [No, I’m not including Bromeliads. My pictures of grass will be things that look like grass.]

I won’t concentrate on well managed lawns or even rough domestic grass.

This will be more or less a picture blog. Here are some pictures of many varieties of much taller grass – in my usual random order. Some is cultivated in fields for cattle or crops. Some grows wild almost everywhere, particularly beside water.

Pampas Grass

I thought this would be an easy one, a tall grass grown ornamentally. Wikipedia says it may refer to: Cortaderia selloana, Cortaderia jubata, Erianthus ravennae (Saccharum ravennae) or Miscanthus sinensis! I suspect the one I normally see is the first one in this list.

It is now quite common and I pass some every day but the largest area I see is at Slimbridge. You can’t miss it even when it has been heavily pruned for winter.

Bamboo

We all know about Bamboo. It’s very tall grass and it grows fast. It’s a subfamily, Bambusoideae, of the grass family.

It is seen occasionally as a feature in large ornamental gardens.

Crops

We have wheat or corn, widely grown as a crop to make flour. We also have barley, rye, oats and maize. They originate from species of wild grasses and have been cultivated and developed for thousands of years. There are various differences in terminology, especially between the UK and the USA so I won’t be specific. (I don’t always go with Wikipedia because sometimes it favours US usage.) Here are some pictures of arable crops of the grass family.

Reeds

Here are some grass-like plants near or in water that may be reeds. Some of them are what I would call bulrushes.

Ferns

Ferns are different to most plants (including grass.) They have no flowers or seeds but reproduce asexually by spores. Most have ‘fiddleheads’ that uncoil into fronds. Taxonomy is complicate but they make up roughly a phylum (Division) of plants.

In practice the one we see is always Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum.)

Before I finish I have to say something about the title. All I could find was a few Biblical quotations. From the King James Version I went for 1 Peter Chapter 1, from Verse 23.

Being King born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible,

by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass.

The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:

But the word of the Lord endureth for ever…

And I have kept a few pictures for the end. Grass is always impressive when silhouetted against the sky.

 

 

 


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[02] Neither do they Spin

[02] Neither do they Spin – A Pictorial Blog of Wild Flowers.

As I said in [04] Garden Flowers I have split my pictures roughly into groups for garden flowers and wild flowers. In this blog you will see the wild flowers, the ones we don’t generally cultivate in our gardens.

You may still see fields of mixed wild flowers in the countryside. Nowadays they are also seen in parks and gardens in towns, probably from a bag of mixed wild flower seeds!

Heather and Gorse

In wilder moorland the main flowers are heather and gorse. (You will also find heather in gardens.)

Common Weeds

My next group of pictures are mostly found as weeds in lawns or gardens – buttercup, daisy, dandelion and a few others. After that there will be some colour groups.

White flowers include cow parsley (and dozens of similar umbelliferous plants) and wild garlic.

Yellow Flowers include marigold, cowslip and primrose.

A few more in shades of Blue, Purple and Pink.

I will end with two plants that I used to think of as wild but which are now cultivated in various colours – foxglove and poppy.

I won’t give you a modern translation but from the Authorized Version of the Bible (King James Version), Matthew 6: verses 28-30.

And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin.

And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

 


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[08] The Serpent Beguiled me

[08] The Serpent Beguiled me – a Blog about Fruit

One of my first blogs was [07] Berries, done as essentially part of autumn. I left the rest of fruit for a later blog and here it is.

Fruit

Scientific terminology rarely agrees with common usage. Technically a ‘fruit’ is a seed-bearing structure but we may use the word more loosely in a way that relates to what we eat. Edible fruits have a symbiotic relationship with animals (including humans.)

We tend to think of fruits as fleshy, generally sweet, and edible in the raw state – apples, bananas, grapes, lemons, oranges, strawberries, …

But strictly we should also include nuts, bean pods, tomatoes and wheat grains (and mushrooms!) And there are fruits that we call vegetables – peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, courgettes … Not to mention nuts, grains and spices. And of course the rhubarb that acts a fruit in desserts is not a fruit, it’s just the stalk of its (poisonous) leaves.

The fruits most familiar to us are berries like cranberries, gooseberries, grapes and tomatoes – also aubergines and bananas (and citrus fruits!); drupes (with stones) like cherries, olives and plums; and pomes like apples and pears (and rosehips.)

[Strawberries, raspberries and blackberries are not berries. They are aggregate fruits.]

 

The fruit is produced towards the end of the annual cycle of life but it is not so closely linked to the season of Autumn as I first thought. Trees and plants flower almost throughout the year. Some types have an extended period of many months for flowering and some may have buds, flowers and fruit at the same time. So I didn’t have to wait for autumn to come round again.

Here are my pictures roughly grouped by species with the more obvious fruits first, then the pods, cones and seeds.

 

 

I was going to say that we all know the story of Adam and Eve and the apple but nowadays younger people don’t get the religious education we used to have with its Bible stories. Before I go any further let me say that it’s a story. Nobody now believes that it actually happened like this.

It comes from Genesis, the first book of the Bible, just after God created the World and the first two people, Adam and Eve. They were young and innocent. As always I use the King James Version with some minor adjustments to spelling and punctuation. Here is the first part of Chapter 3.

 

  • Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, ‘Yea, hath God said, “Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” ’
  • And the woman said unto the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden …’
  • ‘But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, “Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” ’
  • And the serpent said unto the woman, ‘Ye shall not surely die …’
  • ‘For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.’
  • And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
  • And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
  • And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.
  • And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, ‘Where art thou?’
  • And he said, ‘I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.’
  • And he said, ‘Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?’
  • And the man said, ‘The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.’
  • And the Lord God said unto the woman, ‘What is this that thou hast done?’ And the woman said, ‘The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.’

We all know the story and think of it as an apple but Genesis just calls it the fruit of a tree.

It’s the best I can do for a blog about fruit.

 


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[04] Daffodils, Hearts-ease and Flocks

[04] Daffodils, Hearts-ease and Flocks – A pictorial Blog of Garden Flowers

I have had a lot of difficulty in dividing up several hundred pictures of flowers. I went for a split into Garden Flowers and Wild Flowers and realized that there might be difficulties. Many wild flowers have been bred and cultivated for use in gardens and quite a few garden flowers have escaped and spread into the wild.

But then I thought, ‘It doesn’t matter.’ It’s my decision and you may not agree with me. Of course what we call weeds are just wild flowers where they are not wanted.

Here are lots of pictures of garden flowers in no particular order. The rest will be in [02] Wild Flowers.

Country Gardens is an English folk tune collected by Cecil Sharp and arranged for piano in 1918 by Percy Grainger. There have been several popular recordings.

How many gentle flowers grow in an English country garden? I’ll tell you now, of some that I know, and those I miss I hope you’ll pardon. Daffodils, hearts-ease and flocks, meadow sweet and lilies, stocks, Gentle lupins and tall hollyhocks, Roses, fox-gloves, snowdrops, forget-me-knots in an English country garden

[I bet you are wondering about hearts-ease. It’s Viola tricolor, used as a herb in earlier time and also known as heart’s delight, tickle-my-fancy, Johnny Jump up, Jack-jump-up-and-kiss-me, come-and-cuddle-me, three faces in a hood, love-in-idleness or Wild Pansy.]

 

 


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[06] Eats, Shoots and Leaves

[06] Eats, Shoots and Leaves – a Pictorial Blog about Greenery.

One way of looking at this blog is that it is what’s left in the plant world when you take out the other blog topics. I have separated out more primitive plants – moss, lichen and fungus; grasses and ferns. This leaves flowering plants and trees but I also have separate blogs on the actual flowers and the berries and fruits that come afterwards.

So we are left with the green bits – shoots and leaves – and some of the buds just beginning to develop into leaves or flowers.

I am not aiming to be complete and there may be some overlap with other blogs.

In a fairly random order here are some buds, catkins and growing blossom; then a few pictures grouped by plant type; and finally some leaves – green or sometimes red as they emerge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation is a book written by Lynne Truss published in 2003, in which she bemoans the state of punctuation in the United Kingdom and the United States. The book mixes humour with instruction.

The title of the book is a humourous syntactic ambiguity, a verbal fallacy arising from unfortunate use of bad punctuation:

A panda walks into a café. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and proceeds to fire it at the other patrons.

“Why?” asks the surviving waiter, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.

“Well, I’m a panda,” he says. “Look it up.”

The waiter turns to the relevant entry in the manual and, sure enough, finds an explanation. “Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.