There rolls the deep where grew the tree.

      O earth, what changes hast thou seen!
There where the long street roars, hath been
The stillness of the central sea.

The hills are shadows, and they flow
From form to form, and nothing stands;
They melt like mist, the solid lands,
Like clouds they shape themselves and go.

But in my spirit will I dwell,
And dream my dream, and hold it true;
For tho’ my lips may breathe adieu,
I cannot think the thing farewell. ~ Alfred Lord Tennyson.


Ficus benghalensis – a place of reflection.

Admiring a Ficus benghalensis in Jardín Botánico Canario Viera y Clavijo.

The banyan tree is central to several Asian religions including Hinduism & Buddhism. Banyan refers to many species of fig, but most specifically to the Indian banyan, Ficus benghalensis. Banyans also serve a practical purpose, as a shady place for merchants to meet – banya is from the Gujarati word for trader. The epiphytic tree starts by wrapping itself around a host tree before plunging roots into the ground – a convenient metaphor for forces beyond human control, or struggle more generally. The banyan is sacred to Buddhists as a place of reflection. After attaining enlightenment, the Buddha is said to have sat under a banyan for seven days, reflecting.

Sowing seeds indoors. Bringing new plants into life!

Acer seed wing.

One of my favourite horticultural tasks during the winter months is sowing seeds giving a helping hand in bringing new plants into life!

Seeds come packaged by nature with their own food supply in the form of endosperm so the first thing to remember is that the compost mix needs to be low nutrient. A good universal seed germinating mix could consist of 50 % coir & 50% perlite or vermiculite to maintain an open structure & to increase water holding capacity in the compost. You could also add in some composted bark for extra structure.

Overfill your seed tray or container & then tamp down. Next soak your seed tray full of compost in water. Label with the date & plant being sown – in this case Acer tree seeds.



Sow your seeds thinly to ensure even distribution in your container & then cover with a layer of vermiculite to stop a thin crust forming on the compost surface & to protect them from moving around during subsequent watering.
Cover the entire pot with a polythene bag to increase humidity & prevent them from drying out & place them on a propagator bench for bottom heat. Some seeds germinate in about 10 days whilst others make take 3 months or even longer!




Respect the Cow.

For the past few weeks my daily walk to the sea has involved witnessing an alarming cry from this herd of cows.
On closer inspection I recognised that all the cows were females & separated from their sons.
The sons having been contained in the green roofed hanger down the road & are equally vocal. I have no qualifications on animal psychology but nevertheless, my intuition has been telling me that both are protesting at the injustice of this painful separation.
To humans the sons are commodified as ‘bullocks’ ready for the slaughter-house.
And then there is Game shooting, which has become increasingly popular in recent decades. There is an exclusive hunting lodge immediately neighbouring Logan Botanic Garden & groups of rich shooters from all over the world have been steadily flowing up here since October to shoot pheasant, partridge, geese & duck. The cottage I live in directly overlooks fields where there is currently shooting going on – its right on my door step! All the animals shot have been brought in, mainly from France & are reared for this season of shooting till February. How does this nurture sustainable biodiversity?
I find ‘Idyllic’ rural country life in the UK is often punctured with episodes of this kind.
As far as the eye can see there is nothing but deforested grass fields with continued grazing, keeping the land devoid of trees.
But this was not always the case. For about 7000 years, following the end of the last Ice Age, nearly the whole of Britain was covered with forest mostly consisting of broad-leaved trees such as oak & elm. Then, about 5,000 years ago, Neolithic tribes in Britain began to clear the forests using flint axes. Later the Celts arrived with their more advanced farming techniques. They began to create fields for crops & meadows for cattle. Much of our remaining forest disappeared during the 16th & 17th centuries to provide timber for boats & charcoal for the iron industry. During this century, even more of our woodlands have been cleared. Very few to today’s scattered woodlands date back to prehistoric times, except remnants of the ancient Caledonian pine forests of Scotland, made up mainly of coniferous Scots Pine.
And deforestation continues on a global scale. So much rich abundant ecologically sound forested land is destroyed & designated to rear cattle despite damning reports from the UN stating how rearing cattle produces more greenhouses gases than driving a car!
With affluence comes increased consumption of meat & dairy – but the earth simply cannot sustain it.
I am inviting us all to consider our consumption & perhaps to limit it, modify it, simplify choices that are respectful of all sentient life & their dignity.
Further Reading:

Inspiring role models: Saalumarada Thimmakka.

It’s not often that you hear about one person who has single-handedly planted & nurtured a woodland  as service to fellow human beings & wildlife. But Saalumarada Thimmakka is one such woman & still going strong at 105 years old!

Her woodland of native Ficus benghalensis (Banyan) trees in Karnataka, India bestows an invaluable gift for all her fellow villagers to benefit from & a legacy for future generations of all sentient life.

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Saalumarada Thimmakkka – a Foundation has been created in her name to continue the inspirational work she started.

Environmentalist Saalumarada  Thimmakka rejoicing amidst the woodland she planted & nurtured that stretches for four kilometers both sides of the road from Thimmakka’s village of Hulikal and Kudur, the next.
The beautiful woodland grove of Banyan trees lovingly grown by Saalumarada Thimmakka.

Further Reading:


Looking fabulous right now: Acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’ & Buddhas :)

Acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’ with glorious shades of bright scarlet this autumn.
Brilliant scarlet colour!
Meditating Buddha sculpture at Glenwhan gardens.
Buddha sculpture at Glenwhan gardens.

Collecting seeds from Polylepis australis – the ‘filo pastry’ tree.

IMG_0619.JPGIt never ceases to amaze me just how smart plants truly are. I marvel at their complexity, their feats of engineering & effortless artistry. Much can be learnt from these noble ancient lifeforms. The above, seemingly simple seed holds such complexity & potentiality for life is staggering.

Seeds that could germinate & grow each into 3-4 metre Polylepis australis trees.
Strangely enough, Polylepis australis is a relative of Alchemilla mollis.
Extraordinary ‘filo’ pastry bark that actually helps the Polylepis australis distorted tree survive harsh winters across the Andes mountains of South America from Ecuador to Argentina.