‘Yield’ by Formidable Vegetable Sound System

Listen to the very infectious (in all the right ways) Formidable Vegetable Sound System from Perth Australia, which has just played Glastonbury. FVSS describes itself as “experimental ‘ecological edutainment’ about the principles of permaculture (a way to fix the world) mashing together ukulele with electroswing-style wonk, climate-change reggae, post-apocalypso and a decent serving of ‘Radish Beets’. Go on, set your toe tapping…..

My (second) favourite Chelsea garden

The SeeAbility garden at Chelsea was one of those charity-sponsored gardens that got it right. It’s not easy working with a design brief that a garden should somehow reflect a particular charity. A too literal interpretation can make anything from second-rate design to really naff. But designer Darren Hawkes made a beautiful garden that anybody, whether vision impaired of with the sight of two pretty good eyes would love to be in. His Silver Gilt award for what is his first-time Chelsea appearance was well deserved. Continue reading

How to grow crotons & the Croton Lady of Bundaberg

As I had a site visit in Bundaberg last week, I set a day aside and visited a few gardens. I had long planned to visit Marge  – known locally as the Croton Lady – who I had met in Brisbane many years earlier. I am really glad I finally made it as I learned so much from the visit. As many people had told me, you don’t need a street number as you can spot Marge’s garden immediately – a manicured front garden – and yes crotons, as well as many other plants. Marge’s back garden will blow you away if you love foliage colour. Continue reading

Could you compost a car?

Science Museum London

Photo Science Museum London

The carrot cellulose-based steering wheel from a new Formula 3 prototype car that’s also powered by chocolate, (aren’t we all) and has a body from potatoes is on display at the London Science Museum. Continue reading

Golden Valley Tree Park in autumn

Very few trees reliably change colour in autumn in Perth so to a see a decent display we need to either head for the hills or travel south. I have been lucky enough to have been down to the Blackwood River Valley three times in the last couple of months and to have seen a gradual progression from mid to late autumn (autumn here is from 1 March until 31 May). One of my favourite places to visit there is the Golden Valley Tree Park where you can see a wide variety of trees which colour up in autumn. Continue reading

What caused the Irish Potato Famine of 1845?

Kew Herbarium Phytophthora infestans specimen 1847

Kew Herbarium Phytophthora infestans specimen 1847

Scientists have extracted DNA from 166 year old herbarium specimens of the dried leaves from infected potatoes, held since a potato late blight devastated crops in the mid 19th century. Potato losses caused severe famines in both Ireland and the Scottish Highlands in which more than a million people starved to death, as well as significant social upheaval throughout Europe. Continue reading

Louisa Jones fell in love with France

Louisa Jones fell in love with France and Provence as a student in the late 1960s and lives there to this day. English friends said there were no important gardens in Provence but she soon realised they were thinking of flower gardens and that vernacular gardens which had evolved over millennia were not appreciated. Continue reading