I feel I should write shorter, more conversational posts. My adventures may not be epic, but my blogs tend to be. Thank you, anyone who’s stuck with them. Writing is for rainy days and, in line with Parkinson’s Law, tends to expand with persistence of precipitation. Sorry about that.
I’ve also been told that if I want anyone to see my blogs, they need to have lame, obvious titles so they can be presented to potential readers by some omnicrawling googleblaster panroboticon thingy. If I’d had my way I’d have entitled this post Post-equinoctical Botanising and Social Media – Diminishing Returns, or Why I’m Keeping Groundsel Up My Sleeve.
November isn’t always the most appealing month in which to be outdoors in England. Nonetheless one thing that is getting me out of the house at the moment is a sudden feverish interest in spotting wild flowers. This has come about because over on Twitter the account @wildflower_hour (which I suspect may be something to do with BSBI) has been running a little game called #thewinter10. During Wild Flower Hour (Sunday, 20.00 – 21.00 GMT) you’re supposed to post under that hashtag pictures of ten wild flowers you’ve found in flower during the preceding week.
Part of the fun is that of course it gets harder each week. So far, though, I’ve been surprised and pleased by some of my finds.
Most of the wild flowers remaining by the third week of November are tatty, miserable-looking rags of things, hanging on against the odds in out of the way corners. I feel a certain affinity with them. Now and then, though, in a sheltered spot one comes across a bit of unexpected glamour.
I give the scientific names of plants in my blogs, when I can work them out, not to be flash (I just pinch them off Wikipedia) but for the benefit of readers in other countries. The vernacular names of wild plants and animals vary a lot even between English-speaking countries, and once you introduce other languages it gets still more confusing. I learnt this, among many other less useful things, when I was a grad student in ornithology working with colleagues from all over the world. A trivial example – a Great Tit in German is a Kohl Tit (Kohlmeise), while a Coal Tit is a Pine Tit (Tannenmeise).
Even if you’ve more pressing reasons than pressing flowers to be outdoors, it’s worth keeping your eyes peeled for a bit of casual botany. Right into the depths of winter, you never know what will pop up. Maybe we’ll all pop up on Twitter during Wild Flower Hour? Say hello.
There, I can do chatty little blogs with the best of them and if that’s what you’d like to read I’ll be pleased to hear it. Apart from anything else, it would save me the bother of having any more modest adventures. I’d also like to mention, in response to kind advice received, that I’ve just written an entire blog without a single adverb. Amazingly.
I’m keeping Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris) up my sleeve, to coin a phrase, because it flowers pretty much all year and so could come in jolly handy…