Seventy at Seventy

Life Begins at 70


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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.

 

 


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[05] Lonely as a Cloud

[05] Lonely as a Cloud – a Pictorial Blog about Bulbs

Sometimes I take quite some time searching for biblical or literary quotations as titles but when I decided to do a blog about bulbs the source was obvious.

These are very familiar words.

I wandered lonely as a cloud,

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils …

They come from the poem, ‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud’ by William Wordsworth, inspired by an actual walk with his sister. It’s one of the most well-known and well-loved English poems and is sometimes also known by the shorter title: Daffodils.

Bulbs

It has been hard to find where to put some topics when aspects of plant and animal life correspond to the seasons. I am never sure whether bulbs flower in late winter or early spring (perhaps it is both) so they are getting a blog to themselves.

I presume that storing food as bulbs enables these plants to flower before the warmth and light of spring and summer. I know little of botany and will more or less stick to pictures of our common species, in the order in which they normally flower, with some botanical notes from Wikipedia.

Snowdrops

Snowdrops come under the genus Galanthus, which has about twenty species. Galanthus nivalis is the most common and widespread. We think of it as a native British wild flower but it was probably introduced in the early Sixteenth Century. First recorded as naturalized in Gloucestershire and Worcestershire in 1770, it’s generally a woodland species but now it is frequent in gardens and parks.

Crocus                                                                    

Wikipedia says that crocuses have corms, not bulbs but in horticultural terms we can count corms as bulbs!

When I was young I just remember the large ones that were purple, white or yellow. They are among my favourite flowers, particularly the purple and yellow ones.

There are many species of Crocus, of which about thirty are cultivated, including Crocus sativus for saffron. Only five species are commonly planted for decoration in the UK. Each has horticultural varieties. I will start with the familiar ones and use Wikipedia to guess at species.

The familiar large yellow ones could be C. Flavus.

The large plain purple or white ones are probably C. vernus.

 

Maybe even this blue one.

Those are the only ones I remember from my youth. We now have lots more varieties, mostly smaller or thinner, some with delicate lilac colouring. Between them they may be C. chrysanthus, C. sieberi or C. tommasinianus but I will leave identification of the following pictures up to you.

The honey bee was a bit of a bonus!

Mythological Diversion

In Greek mythology, Narcissus was a hunter known for his beauty. He was proud and disdained those who loved him. Nemesis noticed this behaviour and lured him to a pool, where he saw his own reflection in the water and fell in love with it, not realizing it was merely an image. He lost his will to live, staring at his reflection until he died.

I wanted to say that he was turned in to a narcissus flower but Wikipedia is less precise. The word has come to be used for the flower but it seems that it is not certain whether the flower is named after the myth, or the myth from the flower, or even if there is any connection at all!

He is, of course the origin of the self-fixation known as narcissism. (I mean – the words are cognate. He was just a story.)

Daffodils and Narcissus

There are many species of Narcissus and Wikipedia is a bit coy about which of them are Daffodils saying merely that some species of the genus are sometimes known as daffodils.

To me a daffodil has an all-yellow flower with a distinctive elongated shape. Narcissus includes daffodils and all the other colourations and shapes. (I won’t use the word jonquil, which seem to a be flatter shaped Narcissus, mostly white.)

Anyway, there are several species and many varieties. The one that grows wild in the UK (but was probably introduced long ago) is N. pseudonarcissus, the Wild Daffodil or Lent Lily, flowering up to around Easter (mid-April.)

Here are some pictures of some varieties I have seen this year. I will not even guess at species.

I haven’t found a large ‘cloud’ of daffodils yet but there are some larger areas full of daffodils. We have them along pavements and on roundabouts and spare little bits of open land in town.

Hyacinth and Muscaris

We see expanses of apparently wild snowdrops and daffodils but the Hyacinth is essentially a domesticated plant. You can see some in gardens but often they are grown indoors as pot plants. They even come in kit form as suitable for Christmas presents.

Hyacinthus orientalis is of Asian origin but widely cultivated in Europe. Wikipedia says that is flowers are purple but to me the main colours are blue, white or pink. There are many varieties.

 

The Muscaris (also known as a grape hyacinth) is in the same family as the hyacinth – the family named from one of its other members, asparagus!

They are probably Muscari neglectum, one of several species with small blue flowers. They have become a plant sometimes seen in the wild but also often grown in gardens.

Tulip

I will end with the Tulip, very much a cultivated plant. Its taxonomy is complicated with about 75 species and horticulturally it has over three thousand varieties in fifteen groups. We sometimes have them now as cut flowers with long stems.

I won’t cover all 3000 types. Here are some pictures of tulips seen in local gardens.

I’m issuing this blog at the beginning of the tulip season. I may sneak in some more tulip pictures into other blogs.