Coming soon to a garden near you: Spring!

This year’s seed sowing has started – Lily’s been helping.

I’ve only assembled one set of shelves in the conservatory so far, but I’ve run out of space already, so the other will follow imminently. I don’t think Grumbling Rose has noticed yet – he’s just back from his latest skiing holiday and his head is already full of the next one. I faced a dilemma over whether or not I should switch on my two small propagators this year – do they eat much electricity? Anyway I decided to go for it, but the rest of the seedlings will just have to fend for themselves, because the conservatory isn’t heated.

I need to prick out some seeds I planted in the autumn but I’ve run out of my recycled seed trays, so I’ve been making some environmentally friendly ones out of newspaper.

The seeds I’ve sown already include cherry tomatoes, but in view of the current and predicted shortages, I’m going to try growing sweet peppers as well – this’ll be a first for me, so I’ll keep you posted.

My house plants are loving life at the moment. The two amaryllis bulbs I’ve had for the last few years are getting going – admittedly one more enthusiastically than the other.

My mum’s Christmas cactus, a precious reminder of her, is flowering for the third time this season. A few weeks ago I thought the oxalis triangularis my sister grew for me was on its last legs – it looked so pathetic. In hindsight I think it must have been using all its strength to produce masses of leaves and flowers! Two of my orchids are looking stunning – the other two remain in the orchid hospital (the downstairs loo). I’ve even managed not to kill the poinsettia I was given in November – it hasn’t got many green leaves left though.

I know we’re about to have a cold snap, even some snow forecast – but generally I’m feeling spring is on the horizon, not least because Gardener’s World starts again properly the week after next. Grumbling Rose will be on the piste again so he’ll miss the first episode. Not to worry though, he’ll be able to watch it on catch up 😂

Love is all around

When it gets to this time of year we’re bombarded from every angle by Valentine’s Day – cards, gifts, flowers, chocolates, meals – need I go on? That’s OK if you have someone in your life you want to spend Valentine’s Day with, but what if you can’t be with them, because they’re not nearby or worse still, no longer with us? There’s so much hype nowadays, all geared around selling us stuff of course – the Easter eggs are on the shelves already!

Now Valentine’s Day is a special time for Grumbling Rose and me, because it’s the anniversary of when we met – 47 years ago – just goes to show I have the patience of a saint! We won’t be celebrating together this year because he’ll be on his 3rd, yes 3rd, skiing holiday of 2023. You may ask why I don’t accompany him. Quite simply, I dislike everything skiing involves – the unwieldy skis, the rigid boots, ski lifts of any variety, not to mention the cold. Then there’s the rigmarole involved in having a wee wearing ski gear – in a toilet I mean, not in the ski gear – although it can be a close call, in view of the time it takes to partially disrobe, in a miniscule toilet cubicle. And as for the après ski – I don’t know how anyone summons up the energy after a day on the piste. I’m better off at home with my little dog Lily and my garden.

It’s at this time of year I start to fall in love with my garden all over again. We’re coming out of the dreary winter months and enjoying dainty snowdrops, cheerful aconites, hellebores, winter jasmine and the fragrances of mahonia, viburnum and winter box. Daffodils, hyacinths and anemones are peeping out from the soil and will soon add even more colour to the garden.

I’ve got several types of sweet peas on the go in my plastic greenhouses – I’ll sow some more soon, so in theory I’ll be able to extend the flowering period. I’ve also got a variety of seedlings in there making a valiant effort to survive. While GR is away I’ll be ramping up the seed sowing, making use of my indoor greenhouse, aka the conservatory!

Many of the strawberry runners I planted up in the Autumn are looking good, as are the ox eye daisy plants I grew from seed last year – they should flower this year. The garlic is coming up nicely but something’s had a nibble at my shallot tips. I potted up some cuttings from Rosie and Daisy’s salvia ‘Hotlips’ last year – the leaves are still green, so surely there must be some roots supporting them by now – I’ll have to brave a look. The geranium ‘Rozanne’ I divided (well more like hacked to pieces) also looks to be alive – a miracle, although the cuttings I took from my white pot geraniums look a bit suspect. On the wildlife front, the birds are very active and eating me out of house & home. The blue tits are checking out my tit box again, so they must be in the mood for love.

A Touch of Frost

We’ve certainly had some cold and frosty mornings recently haven’t we. Now we all know that frost is created by Jack while we’re asleep. Armed with a paintbrush and glitter he works quickly, covering everything he can, so that in the morning we’re greeted with a spectacular winter wonderland scene. He doesn’t miss a detail – spider webs look magical in the sunlight and leaves glisten as though sugar coated. Jack’s glitter makes every surface sparkle. He even has time to paint beautiful patterns – he must work fast – do you think he has helpers?

Jack has a reputation for being mischievous. I wonder if he hides, waiting to see our reaction when we open the curtains and see his beautiful work or encounter some of his less endearing contributions. I hope he’s not sniggering when he nips at my fingers and toes until they hurt. Also, I could do without his habit of coating my car window, to the extent that clearing it, takes a lot of frantic de-icer spraying and frenzied scraping. He seems to know I’ll have neglected to carry out this task in good time, and will inevitably end up being late for something.

Now some misguided people say that Jack Frost doesn’t exist. They say that frost is a natural phenomenon, occurring when freezing surface temperature meets water vapour. Even worse, these people dismiss Jack’s artistic talents, saying that ice crystals naturally form the beautiful patterns we see.

Anyway, back to reality. Jack is so clever, he doesn’t just make one type of frost – he makes several, including rime frost, hoar frost and fern frost. Rime frost is the sort that makes leaves look sugar coated – ‘rime’ means crust, which doesn’t sound quite as appealing to me as sugar coated. Hoar frost looks like little spikes. ‘Hoar’ comes from the old English word “hoary,” which means getting on in age. Some liken the appearance of hoar frost to an old man’s beard. Fern Frost appears on windows when Jack sneaks indoors – he certainly visited our house when I was small. Those boring old doubters say it happens when the air outside is very cold and there’s moisture on the inside.

I wish I could see Jack at work. He’s often depicted as an old man with a beard – similar to the Old Man of Winter, but I’ve always thought of him as a male version of Tinkerbell, only bluer on account of the cold. In my mind I see an elfin figure, darting around my garden and the wider landscape, making it a sight to behold.

Fake Firs

I feel I’ve committed a sin. Three years ago I bought a fake Christmas Tree – it looks very much like a real one, I think you’ll agree. The thought process that led me to take this action was, I admit, the Scrooge coming out in me. The previous year, a beautiful real tree cost me nigh on £50. The fake tree cost me £115. I paid £10 to have the real tree collected for shredding. The fake tree comes apart in 3 pieces and fits neatly into a box stored in the loft, waiting to be used again next year.

I realise I should have thought this through when I was feeling less miserly. Most Christmas trees are made in China, so the odds are that mine was. This means that on top of the damage caused to the environment, through manufacturing of the plastic and metal that makes up the tree, it’s then shipped half way across the world in a container, driven in a lorry to a warehouse and in a car or van to its new home. It’s not recyclable so when it finally gives up the ghost it will go into landfill. The Carbon Trust has calculated that a 2 metre fake tree has a carbon footprint of 40kg. This is around 10 times that of a real tree that gets burned or shredded after Christmas.

The bad news continues, and is in fact bleedingly obvious. While a 2 metre tree is growing happily away for 10 – 12 years, it provides a home for bugs, birds and beasties. At the same time it cleverly captures carbon from the atmosphere. The Nature Conservancy makes me feel even more guilty, reminding me that buying a real tree supports local tree farmers and helps maintain healthy forests.

Well I’ve done it now, so I just have to keep using my fake tree for as long as possible. Apparently the average fake tree is used only 4 times – now that is unforgivable – mine will outlive me!

I do still have my 2 mini trees, aged 2 and 3. They were the last Christmas trees my Mum and Dad enjoyed in their homes. The trees spend spring and summer in a shady spot and the rest of the year looking pretty on my front door step.

Oh, I almost forgot – I have this fake tree – it stands only 20 cm tall and is a family heirloom. This and others used to adorn the tables of a tearoom Grumbling Rose’s family ran in the 50s and 60s, so I think we’ve well and truly negated its carbon footprint. The spooky thing is, we discovered last year, that Victoria has one exactly like it!

B is for ….

Bugs & Beasties: Victoria’s found the probable cause of what’s attracting the badgers to excavate her front lawn – Chafer Grubs. Apparently they’re a particular delicacy where badgers are concerned. Victoria’s now converting a further section of lawn to a flower bed. Taking up the turf proved to be relatively easy because the Chafer Grubs had nibbled away most of the roots. They look revolting don’t they – akin to something served up on I’m a Celeb.

There’s no accounting for taste though – Matt Hancock seems to thoroughly enjoy devouring disgusting dishes! Of course Victoria wouldn’t use pesticides to get rid of the grubs, so pathogenic nematodes have been applied. They kill the larvae by infecting them with a fatal bacterial disease – gruesome eh? We’re keeping everything crossed it works, so that what remains of her lawn isn’t lost to chafer grubs, badgers or both.  

Birds & Bins: it’s the final garden bin collection of the year this week, so Victoria & I have been cramming as much garden rubbish as possible into our bins. Grumbling Rose has been enlisted to compact the waste as much as possible – he used a sledge hammer which seems to have been very effective. I just hope the contents will tip into the bin lorry and not be permanently wedged in the bin. We’ve also commandeered space in one of our neighbour’s bins (we did ask permission). Anyway while I was clearing dead plants out of pots I found a perfect blue tit egg. Remember we cleared out the bird box a few weeks ago – the egg must have fallen into the pot below – it’s beautiful isn’t it? Presumably the egg didn’t fertilise or maybe the embryo didn’t grow.

Brave human beings, animals and birds: we’ve been wearing our poppies with pride once more, remembering all those who’ve fought to protect us during war after war. Last year I wrote about my Great Uncle Horace who lost his life fighting in the First World War. I’ve been photographing some tributes I’ve visited over the last few weeks, which include the purple poppies, in remembrance of the animals who have served, and continue to serve alongside our military. In 2009 one Irish hero, Paddy the Pigeon, was awarded the Dickin Medal, the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross. This was 55 years after his death – what took so long! Paddy managed to survive German falcons and the long journey across the Channel. The engraving on his medal reads:

For the best recorded time with a message from the Normandy Operations, while serving with the RAF in June, 1944.”

A Gardener’s Dream

Last week I had a dream of a night out with Monty Don – if only it had been just him and me. Unfortunately I was joined by 1,999 others. The venue was full to the rafters, which should be no surprise really. I, along with as many as 2.7 million others, look forward to watching Gardeners’ World each week from March to October. The episodes I enjoy the most are the ones featuring Monty, his garden and his dogs.

My sister, a close friend and I arrived at the venue with enough time to have a pre-show drink, and discuss Monty as though we were life-long friends of his. We wondered whether he would bring any of his dogs along, but reluctantly dismissed this as a ridiculous idea. We speculated on how big his garden, Longmeadow, is and realised we’d never seen an aerial view of it. Then it was time to take our seats and enjoy the show.

Monty entered the stage to enthusiastic clapping, cheers and wolf whistles. He wasted no time in letting us down gently about the dogs – they would not be making an appearance in person, but there would be photos and he would talk about them. He showed us a photo of his new puppy Ned, taken the previous day. Monty had left his office for a few minutes to fetch a cup of coffee. He returned to find Ned lying innocently among confetti – his ripped up papers. He told us Ned is the naughtiest puppy he’s ever owned but is too adorable to be cross with for long.

We were then treated to aerial views of Longmeadow – it looks vast – it spans 2 acres. I’m not good at imagining what one acre looks like, never mind 2, but apparently it’s roughly equivalent to 32 tennis courts. My back garden is, I would think, around the size of one (tennis court that is). Monty dispelled any thoughts that he and his wife manage the garden themselves now. What with his book writing, programmes on gardens around the world and the laborious process involved in filming Gardeners’ World, there simply isn’t time. However he does enjoy getting his hands dirty in the garden when he can, and considers it essential for his mental health. Having suffered bouts of depression over the years he also works to support others with mental health problems.

Monty took us on a journey, showing us photos of the garden spanning over 30 years, starting with an overgrown field, which he and his wife developed into the Longmeadow garden we see today. When they started out they had very little money, so everything had to be done gradually – they were simultaneously renovating the condemned house and the garden. He told us of an occasion when he’d been under strict instructions to spend no more than £200 at a tree sale. He was shocked to find that at the end of his spending spree he had racked up over £1k. He had some explaining to do when he got home and had to hastily take out loans to cover the cheque he’d written. He used the ‘F’ word several times while telling this tale – not something you will ever hear on Gardeners’ World!

Before moving on to his dogs, he told us about the £10 pony he bought his children – at that price he should have known something would be wrong with it – it kicked and bit, so was unsuitable for the children to ride. However it gave them years of entertainment because it would fart loudly for minutes at a time, and as a bonus provided manure for the garden.

Even if you don’t follow Gardeners’ World you were probably aware of the death of Monty’s beloved Golden Retriever, Nigel in 2020 – it was international news. He told us that while Nigel wasn’t the most intelligent of dogs, it was soon recognised he had a talent for working on TV. He frequently upstaged Monty and became a celebrity in his own right. On one occasion the Gardeners’ World Director insisted on numerous takes to ensure that as Monty looked upwards to the camera, Nigel did too. This was eventually achieved with the help of a tennis ball. Monty has created a topiary version of Nigel – he used Yew because it can live for over a thousand years.

Three of Monty’s dogs appear on the programme now. Like Nigel, Nellie and little Ned are Golden Retrievers and get on well together. Patti, the tiny Yorkshire Terrier, is ‘top dog’. Monty described her as resembling a large bumble bee who hates getting wet – his daughter bought her from a nail bar believing her to be a Poodle!

Monty spoke engagingly for 2 hours without faltering, making us laugh at regular intervals – I did shed a tear when he spoke about losing Nigel though. He left the stage to rapturous applause and ear piercing whistles. The evening went by in a flash. In case it’s not obvious, I loved every second of it!

Life is full of surprises

I was so excited yesterday – I know, I’m sad! My Café au Lait dahlia has flowered – the bloom doesn’t look as impressive as the one on the packet but I’m still chuffed.

Earlier in the year I wrote about Mr & Mrs B-T nesting in our bird box. I never did see their babies fledge so I’ve worried ever since whether or not they did. I’ve reminded Grumbling Rose on a number of occasions that he needed to get his ladders out and have a look in the box, as we need to be good landlords and clean it out ready for next year’s tenants. This task kept slipping off his list, until today. A friend of Mr & Mrs B-T – a Nuthatch to be precise – tried to give us a gentle nudge. While I was doing my ablutions this morning I heard a lot of tapping going on outside. On looking out of the bathroom window I saw a Nuthatch tossing stuff out of the bird box. It reminded me of my Mum when she’d had enough of my untidy room. Anyway I went out onto the terrace to investigate and was met with a scattering of debris below the bird box. Grumbling Rose had no sooner returned home from whatever he’d been doing, than he was despatched up a ladder to open the box. My heart was in my mouth as I was convinced there would be a cluster of decomposing little bodies in there. I was wrong – another nice surprise – just an empty nest – a thing beautiful to behold – how many hours must that have taken to make? I was a little alarmed at first as my eyes homed in on a blood red patch, but on closer inspection this was just some red fabric fibres. The nest itself looked beautifully clean.

This set me thinking about how birds keep their nests clean. It seems many do, though not all (the slut birds). Blue Tits do keep their nests tidy. One way they’re helped to do this is that their babies produce what are called faecal sacs. Sounds revolting doesn’t it but actually it’s an amazing invention! I’d never heard of this, but the babies of many birds, including Blue Tits, poo into a membrane sac, which a parent (most likely the mother) then removes from the nest. This serves to keep the nest clean and sweet smelling to ward of predators and mites. Apparently some baby birds even give a signal that they’re about to poo. This set me thinking – there’s a definite flaw in human evolution here. Imagine how useful and eco friendly it would be if this applied to our babies and puppies!

Busy Bee

I can’t believe how busy I’ve been in the garden the last few weeks. It’s just as well I’ve been active really, considering how much food I’ve put away. Grumbling Rose is working away this week and I’ve eaten out with friends and family on 4 of the days – Italian on Monday, Greek on Thursday, wonderful afternoon tea with Victoria on Friday and again out with her today for a delicious Sunday lunch along with her daughter and Albert. Did I mention this is Victoria’s birthday week? I really don’t like the latest requirement to remind us on menus how many calories are in each dish. I managed to miss seeing the Sunday lunch damage, but the chocolate ice cream sundae I had for pudding contained over 900 calories – I think they must have got that wrong, don’t you?

So after all this I waddled into the garden this beautiful sunny afternoon. I used the soil I grew my courgettes in as mulch for the garden, refilled the containers with fresh compost and planted some shallots and garlic. I decided I couldn’t hang on to the calendulas and asters growing in my wall pots any longer – they were really starting to look sad. There were one or two flowers that still looked half decent so I’ve popped those in a vase. The lobelia still looks pretty good so I’ve left it for now but added some new seedlings. I’m not absolutely certain what they are though. Victoria grew them from seed and we think they’re some little daisy-like plants that grow well over the winter – but then again they might not be – they don’t look much at the moment, in fact they look pitiful, but hopefully they’ll get a spurt on before it gets too cold – on the other hand they might just die!

The garden is still looking quite colourful! The cosmos, calendula, zinnias and verbena bonariensis are still flowering away and larkspur, snapdragons and roses have come back for a second show. The sedum is finally looking an interesting colour – it always seems to take forever – the bees are loving it. You may remember I fell in love with the look of Café au Lait dahlias last year and grew a couple. They’ve been all leaves and no flowers but in the last few weeks buds have started to appear – I just hope they don’t get zapped by Jack Frost before they have a chance to open. I’ve planted some sweet pea seeds in one of my plastic greenhouses and I can already see shoots peeping through. The strawberries I grew in containers have just about finished producing fruit, but now there are runners coming off them left, right and centre. I think I’ve got around 30 jammed into individual pots which I’m hoping will root properly and provide me with free plants for next year. Grumbling Rose doesn’t know yet but I’ve decided to try growing them in hanging baskets so I’ve got some brackets ready for him to fix to the wall on his return.

Last weekend I took some cuttings from a beautiful salvia growing in Rosie’s garden – it’s a variety called “Hotlips” – it always makes me think of Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan from the series Mash. This spurred me on to take cuttings from my lavenders and penstemons. I had a bit of a disaster on my first attempt to make some more Geranium Rozanne plants. I tried to dig a clump out of the ground with a trowel but the handle broke clean off – to be honest I was being lazy – I couldn’t be arsed to walk up the steps to the garage to get the big spade. Anyway I was then forced to make the trip and I’ve potted some up. I have used the rooting powder I bought this year, so we’ll see. The problem I’ve got now is where to put everything – it’s a bit early to broach putting the shelving up in the conservatory. I’ve already secreted my 3 chilli plants in there for overwintering. I’ve had loads of chillies from them and most of them have turned red which is how I like them. When there’s only me and Grumbling Rose to feed we never use more than half a chilli at a time, so I’ve cut them in half and frozen them.

The trouble is the window sills are fast filling up with various pots, ripening chillies and tomatoes – oh and nasturtium seeds I’m drying (in case you’re wondering, the conker’s to ward off spiders). I got the seeds on a visit to a beautiful garden a couple of weeks ago. Before you think ill of me, I didn’t steal them. The volunteers were ripping out the nasturtiums to make a bed ready for its next purpose – they asked if we’d like some of the seeds. It’s a variety called Spitfire – the flowers are a vibrant mix of red, orange and yellow. I’ve a feeling it’s so named because it grows at high speed – I might put it in what I call my “dead bed” – a border next to where I park my car on the drive. It’s dominated by conifers and anything growing in their shade struggles for light. I’ve been doing some work on it too this week – well actually I’ve just thrown in a load of seeds that say on the packet you can plant now where you want them to grow – surely some of them will appear – I’ll let you know.

The Great Outdoors

It’s been like a wildlife park in this neighbourhood over the last few weeks. I might be exaggerating slightly and I confess I have only heard the activity, but Victoria and Grumbling Rose have had actual sightings! I have heard the badgers squabbling and foxes screeching while I’m trying to sleep at night. At first I thought someone was being murdered but having studied several YouTube videos this was definitely foxes fighting, as opposed to a crime scene. Grumbling Rose looked out of our bathroom window one morning a couple of weeks ago and yelled for me to come and see the fox in Jack and Vera’s garden, but I wasn’t quick enough.

Victoria has gone one (or actually three) better. Over the last week or so she’s made a start on clearing a section of lawn at the front of her house, the intention being to convert it into a rockery. It’s hard work especially with the ground being like rock at the moment. Over the weekend she noticed some digging had taken place overnight, but unfortunately not in the required area. This we identified as badger activity. Then in the early hours of the following morning, unable to sleep, she looked out of the window and there was the badger, bimbling across her garden, followed by a small fox. We’re thinking of making a sign with an arrow “Dig Here Please“! Apparently badgers don’t like the smell of citronella or scotch bonnet chilis – I wondered why there were pieces of orange scattered all over Jack and Vera’s lawn!

On the day of our Queen’s funeral, Victoria was watching the service on TV, when out of the corner of her eye, she saw a very large but skinny fox, stalking across her front lawn in broad daylight, heading in the direction of our house. It gave her quite a shock.

Our Queen loved the great outdoors, her gardens and her animals. I remember watching a documentary where she took Sir David Attenborough to view the trees in the grounds of Buckingham Palace . With a wry smile he queried why a sundial had been placed in the shade of the trees. This made the Queen laugh and she suggested to someone off camera that perhaps it could be moved, now that the trees had taken over. I’ve blogged about my sundial in the past and I can identify with this problem. Unless I were to put it in the middle of the lawn, which I don’t want to do, there will always be parts of the day when it’s in the shade.

The floral arrangement on the Queen’s coffin was made up of flowers and foliage from the gardens of Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Highgrove. These included Rosemary for remembrance, Oak to symbolise the strength of love and Myrtle, which came from a plant grown from a sprig in the Queen’s wedding bouquet. I didn’t know that Myrtle is an ancient symbol of a happy marriage, but I do now.

The Queen was frequently described as having a smile that could light up a room. She certainly had a good sense of humour, which was fortunate, as it must have helped her through a lot over the years! The Paddington sketch was just delightful. Queen Elizabeth II, thank you for being our Queen for 70 years – may you now rest in peace.


Aaagh! I spoke too soon in my last blog – the broccoli is no more – look at it! I think the plump light green caterpillars will become small white butterflies and the more colourful, skinnier ones, large whites. This figures as these are both notorious for destroying brassicas, the family to which broccoli belongs. I’m not sure what the skinnier versions of the plump green ones are – did they arrive too late, or are they a different variety – do you know?

I spotted what I thought was a more unusual butterfly last week, but on investigation I think it’s common as muck. My research leads me to believe it’s a Holly Blue. My wings closed photo is below left. On the right is a professional photo showing the wings open, taken by someone called Amy Lewis. Holly Blues have two generations each year – one in spring and another at the end of the summer, so that would tie in with my sighting. Apparently the spring ones favour holly whereas the summer ones go for ivy.1 As mentioned in a previous blog there’s plenty of ivy for them around here! However my butterfly is savouring one of my Veronicas – much more discerning than those pesky brassica lovers. I’m going to invest in a net cloche for next year’s broccoli – I’ve seen you can buy pop up ones. This sounds great in terms of space saving when not in use, but I’m not sure it’s a wise plan, bearing in mind the struggle I have when trying to cram Lily’s pop up sun shelter into its carry case!

Now you may have seen in the news recently that this country now hosts the greatest concentration of the rare large blue butterfly.2 It became extinct here in 1979 but was reintroduced from Sweden in the early 80s. Although still endangered, the increase over the years looks very encouraging.3 Broccoli doesn’t do it for their caterpillars – they prefer red ant grubs. 🤮 Bizarrely they manage to convince adult ants that they are their babies and then they feast on the real ones. Red ants suffered a decline – not surprising you may think bearing in mind the above. However it was apparently due to the ending of grazing on meadowland – the ants didn’t thrive in the cool of the longer grass.

It’s sad to think that many butterflies and moths have become extinct or endangered – not helped by the once popular hobby of butterfly collecting. Poor things, trapped in a net, pins stuck through their little bodies and displayed in a picture frame or mahogany cabinet. Are any of you old enough to remember Carla Lane’s 70s sitcom Butterflies? It starred Wendy Craig (Ria) and Geoffrey Palmer who played her husband Ben, a dentist – his hobby was collecting and studying butterflies. In the first episode Ria says to the man she contemplates committing adultery with (but never does) “We are all kids chasing butterflies. You see it, you want it, you grab it, and there it is, all squashed in your hand.” She adds, “I am one of the few lucky ones, I have a pleasant house, a pleasant man and two pleasant sons. My butterfly didn’t get squashed.

Victoria has been working through her collection of books, with the aim of donating some to charity. She came across one from 1912 by H Rowland-Brown. It contains beautiful illustrations of butterflies and moths and a wealth of information, but it’s clear from the text that butterflies did lose their lives to assist in his research. Thankfully now  “of the 59 species of butterfly found in the UK 25 are afforded some kind protection and six including the Large Blue are fully protected, meaning they cannot be collected, killed or sold“.4 Sadly there are still prosecutions. The name for a person who collects butterflies is a lepidopterist – it has a sinister ring to it, don’t you think? Attractions like Tropical World in Leeds allow you to walk among beautiful live butterflies – although come to think of it, this doesn’t conjure up entirely pleasant memories for me. I volunteered to go on one of Rosie’s primary school trips (this was a rare occurrence). My overriding memory is of kids throwing up on the coach – it was only half an hour down the road!