Sunday, 29 March 2009

What price knowledge?

Yew Tree at St Michael's church, Llansteffan, which has the wonderful pilgrim's gravestones debated recently on Codlins and Cream. Apologies for not having posted regularly this week but I am busy with gardening and painting . . .

This morning it was twice times 50p . . . I picked up two tatty old books from a car boot stall (actually 3 x 50p, but I've forgotten one's downstairs so I will have to review that tomorrow.) I am certain that no-one else would have bought these books as their covers are warped and one very faded, and even I thought twice, but when I really looked at them, I had to have them.

One is 'Wonders of Wild Flower Life' by F Martin Duncan. Undated but I would guess late 30's or just around wartime though paper quality is quite good. It has black and white photographs and photographs of line drawings and an absolute wealth of information which will get imparted on this blog in due course. No other book I have (or ever read) deals with what times of day wild flowers open and close. Or the movements of plants - I knew that the Compass Plant followed the sun around, but apparently other plants including the diminutive little Ivy-Leaved Toadflax will move their fertilized flowers so as to deposit their seeds inside the wall they grow in. I could go on at length, but you get the picture.

The other book I have on my lap is a battered copy of 'The Countryside Companion', dated by Gillian Riley in 1942. Again, black and white illustrations, but lots of them and all sorts of information. I never knew, for example, that yew trees, like holly trees, came in male and female varieties. The Poplar is the same. The Rowan has long been known as a powerful charm against witches, especially I believe in Scotland. It deals with wild animals, birds, flowers, trees, and all manner of countryside topics.

Edited to add a scanned photo of the other 50p's worth of book. I'll scan some of the wonderful illustrations tomorrow. It's 1878 and I love the title!


  1. It's wonderful that you came upon such finds - I think some of the older books, written by people who really cared about and paid attention to their environment, are often the best. I often think drawings are more useful than photographs in identifying plants - they somehow capture the "gestalt" of the plant in ways photos cannot.

  2. The plants chap really knew his stuff (loads of letters after his name) and I will use bits on here. Not today though - I just can't stay awake much longer after an afternoon's hard gardening.

  3. These will be tidbits to anticipate with pleasure. How often I have wished I could create a botanical drawing--or draw anything, for that matter. It sounds like these books go far beyond a "clinical desecription" to a truly delightful format.