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Pumpkins for sale in Dunkirk, Kent

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Pumpkins  for  sale at  Dunkirk  Farm,  in  the  village  of  Dunkirk,  Kent,  25  October  2020,  but  apparently  attracting  no  customers.

Record Oxfordshire pumpkin

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According to a short report in Metro of 15 October, ‘record shop boss’ Gerald Short has grown ‘a county record 1,558lb whopper’ pumpkin on his Wallington, Oxfordshire, allotment.

REMINDER: Autumn Plant Walk

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Roy Vickery will lead an Autumn Plant Walk on Wimbledon Common, south London, on Friday 23 October, starting at 11 a.m. –  for further details see the Events page of this website.   Event cancelled due to lack of bookings.

This is the 20th, and penultimate, walk in a series arranged by the South London Botanical Institute – –  but further walks might be organised, probably at weekends, if there is sufficient demand.

Hallowe’en pumpkins in Deal, Kent

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Hallowe’en pumpkins on for sale outside a  greengrocer’s shop in the High Street, Deal, Kent, 20 October 2020.




REMINDER: Two walks this week

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Roy Vickery will be leading two plant walks in the London Borough of Wandsworth later this week:

Friday 16 October:  Signs of Autumn, Tooting Common.

Report:  Only one person booked for this walk, but we had a pleasant 75 minutes or so wandering around part of the Common, looking mainly at trees.

Saturday 17 October:  Mainly Trees, Battersea Park. Fully booked.

Report:  Five people, the maximum permitted, turned up for this walk, and spent a two hours or so discussing trees in the southwest corner of the Park, these included cornelian cherry (Cornus mas) from Europe, and Kentucky coffeetree (Gymnocladus dioicus) from North America, the latter  being identified for us by veteran tree-walk enthusiast Irene Kettle.

For details see the Events page on this website.

Image:  medlar, Mespilus germanica, Battersea Park, October 2020.

Hallowe’en pumpkins

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |



Placard outside Marks & Spencer, Earlscourt Road, London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, 11 October 2020.

Edited 25 October 2020.





REVIEW: Wild Food Plants of Ireland

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Tom Curtis & Paul Whelan, The Wild Food Plants of Ireland:  The Complete Guide to their Recognition, Foraging, Cooking, History and Conservation, Orla Kelly Publishing, 2019.

I was looking forward to this book, but it proved to be a great disappointment.  What did the authors mean by ‘the complete guide‘?

Recognition:  usually by using both the text and abundant photographs an edible plant can be confidently identified, but there are some surprising statements;  for example, borage, Borago officinalis is described as ‘a prostrate, hispid, prickly haired perennial’.  In England borage usually behaves as an annual, and is usually erect, does it behave differently in Ireland?  Distribution maps are provided for each species, but these simply indicate the botanical recording areas – vice-counties – in which a species can be found, thus the maps suggest that a coastal species can be present far inland.

Foraging:  the scope of the book is good in that it covers most, if not all, of the wild species which can be used as food by humans in Ireland.  However, 26 of the book’s 259 pages are devoted to members of the Fabaceae (Pea Family) and Poaceae (Grass Family) which are eaten by domesticated animals, mainly cattle, but not collected for eating by humans.

Cooking:  this is the book’s greatest weakness, no recipes are provided, instead the authors provide references to what other writers have said, so users need to seek out these publications for recipes.  The space devoted to plants eaten by domesticated animals would have been better used to provide recipes.  Exceptionally we are told that Curtis ‘has simply sautéed the shoots [of sea-kale, Crambe maritima) in butter’, otherwise the authors seem to have experimented with few, if any, of the plants they mention.

History:  here the authors provide good accounts of where species originated if they are not native to Ireland, and how they have been used both in Ireland and elsewhere.

Conservation: the authors provide concise advice on which species can be gathered without imperilling their survival.

Thus of the five topics listed in the title, the first and second can be said to be adequate, the third as extremely weak, and the final two as good.  We still await a ‘complete’ guide.

Anniversary tree in Leatherhead

Date of the post: Posted on by royvickery |

Tree planted a junction of Dorking Road (Gimcrack Hill) and St Mary’s Road, Leatherhead, Surrey, in 1969 to mark the fortieth anniversary of the founding of Leatherhead and District Countryside Protection Society.

Rather strangely the Society chose an exotic tree, ginkgo, Ginkgo biloba, from China, rather than a native species.

Photographed October 2020.

REMINDER: Wonderful weeds

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Roy Vickery will be leading a Wonderful Weeds walk, around the Roupell Park Estate, Brixton Hill, London Borough of Lambeth, on  Friday 9 October, starting at 11 a.m., for details see the Events page of this website.

Report:  Only two people had booked for this event, but both turned up, and we spent a pleasant time, dodging maintenance people who were busy strimming.  Four-leaved manyseed, Polycarpon tetraphyllum, first found here in 2018, continues to thrive, possibly encouraged by the constant grass-cutting, which is also encouraging a species of stork’s-bill, Erodium, a genus which seems to be spreading rapidly in south London this year.

Plant-lore Archive: September 2020

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September was a quiet month with only five items of information being received from five contributors, bringing the total up to 8442 items from 2736 contributors.

Five plant walks were led for the South London Botanical Institute, and two walks were led for other organisations.

One minor publication was produced:

‘Green alkanet’ in FONC News 149: 5-6.

Image: apple, Malus domestica, flowering at Faversham, Kent, 15 September 2020; apple trees flowering out of season were widely believed to foretell death.  A similar flowering apple tree was seen on Wimbledon Common, London Borough of Merton, 18 October 2020.

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