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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

.........down at the bottom of the garden.

We've got a bees nest in our garden shed...... not in the potting shed thank goodness, but one of the others at the bottom of the garden. I've been doing a bit of tidying up down there - nothing major, just so we can walk in a straight line without stepping over obstacles - and I noticed all these lovely little bees periodically crawling through the gap under the door of the shed.

Bombus pratorum, the universal pollinator

What gorgeous bees... with orange bottoms. I'd never seen bees like this before so after typing 'orange-bottomed bee' into Google I discovered that this species is called Bombus pratorum, the Early Bumblebee. As for not having seen this kind of bee, I read that it is our universal pollinator, pollinating well over 140 different kinds of flowers. You can read more about Bombus and see some beautiful photographs by going here.

Although I sometimes go into the shed, for a bamboo cane or a seedtray, etc., I haven't explored the corner where I suspect the nest is, and it's too dark to see as ivy has totally covered the only window. I remember putting a bag of shredded paper there some time ago, which is now well-hidden behind various discarded garden pots so that's probably where they are.

A nest of Bombus pratorum

'Our' bees are welcome to stay in the garden shed for as long as they like. I enjoy watching them coming and going from under the door and they take no notice of me at all, but fly round me and off on to the more important job of collecting pollen.

I don't think they'll be here for much longer though, as I've read that bees die off round about Autumn. Just when I was missing the robins, Mother Nature sent me bees. I wonder what she'll send next.

(photographs courtesy of the worldwide web)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Naming names

Wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to name a plant after anyone we wanted to. Here are my choices.

Doctor Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965)

Doctor Schweitzer was a physician, humanitarian, theologian and musician who started a hospital in Africa to treat African natives. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952 for his efforts in the campaign against nuclear weapons. His philosophy in life was one of compassion towards all life, human and non-human species. He is amongst the greatest of role models. If I could name a plant after Doctor Schweitzer, it would be a Bamboo which, in China, is considered to be 'a gentleman with perfect virtues'. It has the perfect balance of grace and strength. To find out more about Doctor Albert Schweitzer, go here.

'At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us'. (Albert Schweitzer)

Sophia Magdalena Scholl (1921-1943)

Sophie Scholl was a young German student who, along with her brother Hans, was a member of a non-violent resistance group in Nazi Germany. The group, horrified at hearing accounts of soldiers' behaviour at the Front and of the mass killings of Jews, began to compose and distribute anti-war leaflets. Sophie and Hans were eventually caught distributing leaflets at the Univesity of Munich. Subsequently they, and other members of the group, were executed. Sophie was a member of the resistance group, The White Rose, but I would name a yellow rose after her. It signifies her last comment and, in floral terms, bears the meaning 'I care'.... which she certainly did. To learn more about Sophie Scholl, go here.

"Such a fine, sunny day, and I have to go," she continued, "but what does my death matter, if through us thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?" (Sophie Scholl just before her execution)

Christopher Reeve (1952-2004)

When the name Christopher Reeve is mentioned, the fictional character of Superman springs to mind. Christopher Reeve was not only Superman in the world of films but in real life also. After suffering a spinal cord injury during a horse-riding accident, he became a wonderful ambassador for the funding of stem cell research and he never lost hope that a cure would be found.
Of Christopher Reeve, UC Irvine said, "In the years following his injury, Christopher did more to promote research on spinal cord injury and other neurological disorders than any other person before or since." The two words that describe Christopher Reeve to me are dignity and hope, so his special flower would be the dahlia since that is what it signifies. The Superman colours of blue and red would be ideal, but I'm not sure that anyone has bred a dahlia with blue in it yet. :D To find out more about Christopher Reeve, go here.

"Don't give up. Don't lose hope. Don't sell out." (Christopher Reeve)

Jane Tomlinson (1964-2007

Jane Tomlinson was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 1991. Amazingly, over the next six years, she went on to complete the London Marathon three times, the London Triathlon twice, The New York Marathon once and cycled across Europe and the United States. She raised £1.85 million for charity and since her death, the charity she founded has announced a new fundraising target of £5 million. I would name a gladiolus after Jane Tomlinson as this is the flower that symbolizes strength of character, which Jane had in abundance. To learn more about Jane Tomlinson, go here.

Thank goodness the world is full of good people and heroes! Who, apart from family members, would you like to name a flower after?