Archive for 02/12/2014

One Billion Hungry: Can We Feed the World?

Farmers discuss climate and weather changes. Photo C. Schubert (CCAFS) Farmers discuss climate and weather changes. Photo C. Schubert (CCAFS)

This week sees the annual Chatham House conference on food security. This year’s theme is around the risks to food security that come from greater globalisation of the food system. The conference focuses/focused on the “geopolitical, supply-side and market-based threats” to the global food system, in particular generating discussion with senior policy-makers and business leaders on identifying risks and priorities for action to mitigate them in the hope of building a more resilient food system.

Many organisations aim to identify and map risks to the food industry and food security, climate change and its impact on agricultural production being a prominent one. Maplecroft, a horizon scanning, risk analytics organisation that supports global organisations in identifying, monitoring, forecasting and mitigating financial and other risks to their operations, investments and supply chains, recently published their Climate Change and Environmental Risk Atlas…

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Plant Heritage

Tucked between the busy M25 and A3 motorways in Surrey, Painshill Park was created in the 18th century by the Hon. Charles Hamilton, as a fine example of naturalistic landscape.
Hamilton was among the first plant enthusiasts to introduce new species and hybrids from the USA, some of which are still present at Painshill today. He obtained many of his plants from renowned American nurseryman John Bartram (Pennsylvania).

John Bartram Collection (c)

The Gardens were restored in the 1980s using 18th century plans and illustrations, and John Bartram’s plants have been carefully researched and added to the garden since then. The Collection was awarded full status in 2006, and displays over 100 taxa of North American plants. Here are just a few which were beginning to show their autumn colours last month:

In addition to these rather interesting plants, there are information panels explaining how plants and seeds were transported during long boat journeys…

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Municipal Dreams

Wolverhampton was another council controlled by the Conservative Party between the wars and yet, with over 8000 council homes built in the period, it was one of the biggest providers of council housing in the country. Its largest estate, Low Hill, in particular captures well the mix of municipal pride and relative affluence that would shape this new, council-housed, working class.

Dickinson Avenue on the Low Hill Estate Dickinson Avenue on the Low Hill Estate

Before 1914, the Corporation had built just 50 homes – rather grim so-called cottage flats; in fact tenements in an austere barracks-like building (since demolished) erected in 1903 on Birmingham Road.  The War, you don’t need to be told, changed everything and when the Government-mandated survey of housing needs in 1919 revealed an immediate demand for 5659 new homes, the Council resolved to build them all. It was reckoned that over one in five existing homes in the borough were unfit or overcrowded. (1)


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224_Garden_TrowelThe latest extract from a book I bought in a charity shop in the summer…..

The Sleeping Bulb Fallacy:

There’s no such thing as a dormant bulb or corm- they’re all lurking underground ready to leap suicidally under the first fork prong or spade.

Poor Law:

The planting of any authentic ‘foreign’ garden will cripple any budget outside its country of origin.

Rule of Bloomin’ Relatives:

Flowers are like people- people can choose their friends but are stuck with their relatives. People can make their own beds and, like flowers, have no choice but to lie on them.

From : ‘Mrs. Murphy’s Laws of Gardening’ – Faith Hines (Temple House books, 1992)

Old School Gardener



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