Jurassic Garden

There’s a lot of evidence that gardening with plant species native to one’s area can promote a healthier ecosystem for plants, insects, animals and birds. But how do we even go about planting a truly native garden, and what are the challenges involved? A few years ago, I walked around the hedgerows and fields of…

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Vehicular Pollination

A cold winter and a short spring have left a short window for many species of trees and plants to release wind-borne pollen – so they are doing it all at once. It’s an adaptation for them, and we have to adapt. Part of that adaptation, I suppose, is that all of our vehicles are…

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Late to the Harvest

Many years ago, the small daughter of some friends surprised us all at Christmas by taking a single bite from the hidden side of each perfect apple her parents’ had hung on the tree. Just a single bite that didn’t show from the front, but which quickly withered each apple. I thought of those secretly…

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Running Evensong

The bad news today was that I spent most of it trying – with the assistance of an electrician and a building contractor – to figure out why the electricity in our house kept going off for no apparent reason. One of those unnerving household events that I’d almost rather attribute to a poltergeist than…

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Spring Unfolding

Today marks the vernal equinox, and looking out at my garden, I’m eager to get outside and be a part of the day by getting my hands dirty. The air over the past few days has been soft with warmth, spiced with the scents of new grass and turned earth, sweet with birdsong. My garden…

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Hoarfrost Quietude

Throughout winter, our little village can often be found directly on the fog line of the milky┬áblanket that covers the Geneva basin for weeks at a time. We are just high enough in altitude (490 m/1600 ft) to catch a glimpse of blue above, not quiet high enough to see out over the fog itself.…

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A Multitude of Voices

I had the windows open last night and listened to the wind blow through the trees and hedges around our home. We have a small stand of bamboo on one side of the house, a few fruit trees in the garden out front, and to the back, a high hedge of yew. Not far down…

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Forest Vs. Trees

Humankind owes its origins to forests. In return, we have been reshaping them for our own uses ever since we learned to use tools and fire. I’ve told the story before of how an Indonesian palm oil trader once explained to me, many years ago, that I needn’t worry about deforestation in Indonesia. Why? Because…

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Just Passing Through

A flock of homing pigeons has taken up residence on our roof. How do we know they’re homing pigeons? They’re all banded, they’re very sleek and well-fed, and they seem a bit lost. They stand on our skylights and look down at us with beaky expectation, as if we know what to do better than…

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Speaking the Language

I went to bed late last night, it was easily midnight or beyond, and as I lay there on the edge of sleep, I heard an unaccustomed sound. It sounded like…birdsong. I listened closely. It was, indeed, birdsong. And not just little chirps or the otherworldly radar sounds of an owl. There were two birds,…

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