Blog Archives

Illegal Mandrake Collecting

I have just read about an online petition that has been set up by the RSPCA to ban the illegal use of dogs to harvest mandrake roots.  Mandrake, Madragora officinarum, has been harvested for millennia for its medicinal properties.  

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William Cowper- A critic of Lancelot Brown

Although we are celebrating Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown this year, he was not without his critics. One was the poet William Cowper who lived in Olney – famous for the Pancake Race- and later Weston Underwood, a short distance away. Cowper

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A Valentine’s Day Rose

  Who Saint Valentine was is not at all certain. He may be a conglomeration of more than one saint, and although no churches in England are dedicated to him, his popularity is now virtually un-rivalled across the world. Chaucer

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The Georgian Surveyor. The equipment that Capability Brown could have used

The Georgian period was a good time for to be a surveyor. At home estates needed mapping to ensure that you could fend off land-grabbers, so you needed to know where your boundaries were. Surveying was needed so that you

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Mascall’s ‘Hare Pipe’ Trap

I was preparing some items to take to Aston Court to give my talk, ‘Those Tempestuous Tudors.’ The talk is about the use of plants during the Tudor period, but it includes poisons and a few other gruesome gardening subjects. I

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Scaring the Birds

Birds have always been a problem for gardeners. Many old gardening books describe the damage that birds caused to the Pleasure Gardens, but the biggest problem was the damage caused in the productive fruit and vegetable gardens. Since at least

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The Witches Flying Broomstick

As it is Halloween, I have decided to put up a suitable post. Witches are meant to fly on their brooms, but why brooms? Every woman would have hada besom broom to sweep the house. If the tales were written

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