An ode to the unsung heroes of spring: buds

Ask ten people what they like about spring, and half of them will probably mention flowers – lovely bright daffodils, carpets of multicoloured primroses, streets filled with cherry trees… Gardeners wait eagerly for shrubs and trees to emerge from their winter sleep and become covered in tender green leaves. But before that, there’s a very short,…

An oasis of wilderness

Green spaces are prized treasures in the brick and concrete jungle of cities. Yet, according to a report commissioned in 2013, London is the greenest city in Europe, with about 40% of its surface made of public green space: Of course most people will think of the large central green spaces such as Hyde Park, Hampstead Heath or Greenwich Park;…

Paper, paste, plants and patience

A mysterious title for a not so mysterious activity…about a month ago, I took part in an Herbarium Workshop organised by the South London Botanical Institute (SLBI). While I had realised an herbarium before (including one for my BSc with 100 plants, all painfully sewed to thick paper sheets), I had never had the chance to…

Taxonomy treasures

If you’ve visited London as a tourist and walked from Piccadilly Circus to Hyde Park, you’ve probably come across the famous luxury grocery store Fortnum & Mason, and its pretty displays of chocolate truffles, champagne and exotic fruits: Now, look across the street and you will spot a massive 18th-century building, Burlington House, which is…

London – wild and wet

For Christmas, I have part-received and part-offered a WWT membership. As some of you will be wondering what that is, well, WWT is the acronym of Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, a charity founded in 1946 whose ambition is to conserve wetlands in the UK and abroad. In the UK, the WWT manages 9 reserves, including one in…

A New Year filled with flowers?

If you’ve read my previous post on Plant Hunting in the 21st Century, well, don’t be surprised, this is a different kind of Plant Hunt! Organised by the Botanical Society Britain and Ireland, aka BSBI, the New Year’s Day Plant Hunt, now in its third year, is quite simple in principle. These were the rules: 1….

Pond thrills with Froglife

Last week, I had the chance to take part in a (free – how amazing is that!) GCN Course organized by the amphibian conservation charity Froglife as part of their brand new Dragon Finder project (all info here : http://www1.froglife.org/dragonfinder.aspx). GCN, for the uninitiated, refers to the Great Crested Newt (Triturus cristatus), a beautiful European amphibian….

Behind the scenes at Kew Gardens…

No need to introduce Kew Gardens, this 121 hectare estate in the middle of London, home to the world’s largest collection of living plants and producing the finest botanical research! When I read about a “Tropical Nursery Event”, that would enable people to see discover some of the secrets of the tropical greenhouses, I booked…

From Gatwick to Westminster at a glance

In my desperate attempt to catch up with all the blog posts I have missed, this is a lovely place we discovered a few weeks ago, another jewel of Surrey. Wordpress doesn’t to it justice, but the panorama here is gorgeous. London is 25 miles  away (40 km), yet when the weather is clear, you can admire…