Monthly Archives: November 2015

Late November Garden Surprises

We are still experiencing a mild winter, with plenty rain and hardly any frost. While walking around a rather sodden garden the other evening there appeared to be an unseasonable amount of colour, though admittedly it only occurs in little splashes.

There are good things to eat too. The white sprouting broccoli, is just coming. It is the first year I have tried this as I usually only grow purple sprouting. I suspect that if it was colder it wouldn’t be sprouting yet but it’s a nice addition to Brussel sprouts and red cabbage, and the odd bit of calabrase from the tunnel.

And there are still some Katie Apples – yum.

Katie Apple

Katie Apple

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Nature and Children

We’ve been experiencing a lot of dark, grey, wet and windy days. So no hope of getting out in the garden. It’s frustrating but an inevitable part of this time of year.

We have started feeding the birds again and I have been delighted to find my seven year old son taking an extra interest in them this year. We’ve started doing the  Annual Garden Bird Survey for BirdWatch Ireland. We’ve also been learning about birds in our local ladybird girl guide group (like girl scouts). So I ended up online looking for some resources. It got me thinking about children and nature and our role as adults in passing on the wonders of the nature world to the younger generation.

I’ve decided therefore to look at doing another wordpress blog promoting this idea. I know wordpress isn’t a place children will automatically go to but it is a place where people with all sorts of passions go. So perhaps those of us that are passionate about our kids and about nature can use it as a tool. The site is called naturekids.

I invite you all to check out what is a very fledgling site. I would welcome any ideas or suggestions you may have. My first post is on Garden Birds.


November light

At this time of year, with the sun low in the sky I find you get a different kind of light. In the conifer plantation just down the lane from us, the sun penetrates through the lower branches, highlighting the rich, green moss. The moss and ferns only grow where they get enough light – like here where some trees fell over in last year’s storms.

The drains are full after all the rain and they reflect the low light too, as do the fallen bronze larch needles. I love the way they create patterns in the water.

Around the edges of the wood where birch and larch predominate, there is always more light, but the late afternoon sun gives an almost warming glow.

Virtual conference on pollinators, pollination and flowers

A great idea from Dr. Jeff Ollerton – a virtual conference on pollinators. Here is a chance to enjoy some fascinating talks on a favourite topic of mine.

Prof. Jeff Ollerton - ecological scientist and author

B pasc on sunflower

Academic conferences are an important part of what makes science function, via the exchange of ideas and information, publicly and in person.  The act of sitting and listening to both established and early career researchers discussing their most recent work, sometimes before it’s in print, is stimulating and exciting, and will never be replaced by digital technology. We’re social animals and conferences, as much as anything else, are social events.

But conferences are becoming more expensive, more frequent, and increasingly out of reach to researchers with limited budgets.  They are also getting larger: how many times have you attended a big conference and been torn between which of two (or three or four) talks to go to in parallel sessions?  Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to see all of them?  Or to go back and hear again the talks that you most enjoyed?  Likewise, wouldn’t it be great if your students…

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Last of the autumn colours

November is continuing mild, but the dark evenings are a reminder that we are in part of the year that the old Celts called Samhain.

Oak leaves

Oak leaves

Some of the trees have already lost all their gloriously colourful leaves. And this year the colours seems to be particularly bright and colourful. So here are some of the last of the colours to enjoy.