For an hour on Thursday evening it felt as if I’d been transported by time machine back to 1984 or thereabouts, and that I was watching the freshly-launched Channel 4. But no, it was 2015 and I was watching Chris Packham’s Natural Selection on BBC4, a one-off chatshow in which Chris Packham of Springwatch fame hosted a discussion in … Continue reading Chris Packham’s Natural Selection: designed to be intelligent
There was a cherry tree in the front garden of the house in Cheshire where I grew up. Every year in spring, when the delicate white blossom would appear suddenly, as if snow had fallen overnight, I would sense that brighter, longer days were on the way. It later succumbed to poisoning from a poorly sealed-off gas mains. Later, … Continue reading The Birthday Tree
Two years ago, at the end of what we were told had been the coldest March for fifty years, I cleared a layer of frozen snow on our allotment and planted fifteen asparagus crowns that we had ordered from the Royal Horticultural Society, but which arrived just as a blizzard moved in. After a week, with the crowns in danger of drying … Continue reading Our first asparagus harvest: worth the wait
Recently I was presented with a beautiful gift – a book by Dominick Tyler called Uncommon Ground: A word-lover’s guide to the British landscape. The book is the product of a year that Tyler spent travelling the length and breadth of the British Isles to photograph specific features of the natural world. Realising how limited was … Continue reading Uncommon Ground: learning to read our landscape again
A cloudless sky, the sun warm on my shoulders – one of the first days when it’s felt as if the long tramp through winter’s cold is over. Gardening this morning, then walking my dog in Sefton Park in the afternoon, seeing all this glory in the natural world, brought to mind the question – What is wrong with … Continue reading Spring: sunshine and glory. But: What is wrong with us?
This is the time of year when the morning dog walk in Sefton Park is accompanied by the loud drumming of the Great Spotted Woodpecker. It’s a handsome bird when you catch a glimpse of it, either clinging to a tree trunk or flying from tree to tree in a flash of black, white and red. This … Continue reading A woodpecker skirmish in the park
Atelopus zeteki, the Panamanian Golden Frog Though it might be nice to imagine there once was a time when man lived in harmony with nature, it’s not clear that he ever really did. Elizabeth Kolbert is a journalist who writes on science matters for the New Yorker. She has written two books, the first being Field Notes … Continue reading The Sixth Extinction: humanity busy sawing off the limb on which it perches