Ten Years On

September 21, 2020 § 11 Comments

When I started this blog over ten years ago, nearly everyone in my trade — which was writing about gardens — had a blog. We settled down every evening (and several times a day) to read each others’ blogs. Other people read them too, which was gratifying.

Blog posts were short and took no more than a few minutes to read. It was easy to clatter through half a dozen posts by fellow bloggers, and feel that you’d spent a convivial time with your friends.

Well, that’s all changed now, and I feel lucky to get a few seconds of anyone’s online time (I’ve exceeded my quota already by at least 15 seconds).

So, it’s been four years since I wrote a post here. Sure, what was the point?

Something else happened to me during that period. I started writing more about nature, and less about gardening. Every time I sat down to write my weekly gardening column I had a mighty fight with myself to keep the nature content peripheral, rather than central. There were so many interesting things happening in nature around the plants and gardens that I was supposed to be writing about.

I’d start to write about biennials, for instance, and soon I’d be itching to mention about how foxgloves are pollinated by long-tongued bees. Only the garden and common bumblebees have tongues long enough to reach deep into the tubular corollas.

Or, when writing about teasels (another biennial), I’d have to tie my hands down to stop going into raptures about the pools of rainwater that collect in the leaf axils: the hollows formed where the leaves join the stems. These natural vases are known as phytotelmata, and it’s possible that their purpose is to prevent ants and other crawling insects (inefficient pollinators for this species) from reaching the flowers. When invertebrates tumble into the tiny vases and die, their corpses add nutrients to the water which then becomes an ecosystem supporting algae and microscopic creatures.

Imagine that! A whole world in the armpit of a teasel.

You can see why I had to change direction in my writing.

I still garden, and I still do a little garden consultancy — both of which I love. But, I’ve hopped the fence in my writing life, and for the moment, I’m writing mainly about nature.

And I’ve had a book published: An Irish Nature Year. After my last book, The Irish Garden, which took over four years and much angst, I swore I’d never do another book. But I did! And I think it is a fine thing, packed with useful information and amazing facts about the nature that is going on all around us.

You can read about it here. The illustrations (which are just perfect) are by the talented Robert Vaughan, and the publisher is the mighty William Collins, the nature imprint of HarperCollins.

§ 11 Responses to Ten Years On

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