World Vegetarian Day

Tomorrow is World Vegetarian Day!

This day was established by the North American Vegetarian Society in 1977 as an annual celebration to promote the joy, compassion and life-enhancing possibilities of vegetarianism.

It takes place on October 1st every year and initiates the month of October as Vegetarian Awareness Month, which ends with November 1, World Vegan Day.

I have been a vegetarian for over 17 years now – a decision that I have never regretted and could never reverse. People often ask me why I became vegetarian, and all I can say is; for all the reasons anyone would want to…

Recently I read Jonathan Safran Foer’s “Eating Animals”, which had the effect that I have seriously been considering veganism. That is a step I’m not ready to take yet, but I can cook vegan meals more often, and I can go without dairy produce at all once a week. (Bye bye cafe latte!)

If you’ve toyed with the idea of vegetarianism, but aren’t quite sure, read JSF’s book and try cutting out all meat and fish products once a week. It will make a difference. Start tomorrow on World Vegetarian Day!

Here are some useful links for vegetarians/vegans or would-be vegetarians:

Vegan Society

Vegetarian Society

The Vegetarian Resource Group

Viva

Vegetarierbund Deutschland (deutsch)

Vegetarische Rezepte (deutsch)

Green Woodpeckers

I have woodpeckers in my garden.  Green ones.  They are very timid. I often try to get a bit nearer to take a photo, but they always sense I’m there. If I tip-toe across my patio without a camera in my hand, they hardly take any notice of me. If I tip-toe across my patio with a camera in my hand they fly off and chatter loudly (or are they laughing at me?). They are, in any case, extremely camera-shy.

Except for this one:

This is Woody, and was a gift from my parents when they came over from the UK in the summer. He’s cute, he’s not camera shy, and he doesn’t make big holes in our lawn while looking for ants with his beak!

For a real one see here: Yaffle

Whenever I think of woodpeckers I remember Professor Yaffle from Bagpuss. He was the rather pompous bookend carved in the form of a woodpecker! Here he is with Bagpuss, courtesy of bbc.co.uk.

My Woody may not be as intelligent as Professor Yaffle, but he is definitely cuter! Don’t you think?!

P.S. Yaffle actually means the laughing noise the green woodpeckers  make, and from what I’ve seen they only make this noise when flying off. Green woodpeckers have an extremely long and sticky tongue (10cm) for extracting insects from the holes that they have made in my lawn. Like ant-eaters? Okay, not as long as an anteater’s! Here, I found a picture:

Weeds

Daucus carota

Queen Anne’s lace (Wilde Möhre)

This “weed” grows down near the canal where I walk my dogs, and I’ve been observing it the last twelve months or so because of the seed-heads, which develop into huge sticky burrs which get lodged in the hair of my poor Irish wolfhound at this time of year!

A member of the carrot family, also known as the wild carrot, it has fine feathery leaves, a hairy stem, and a big white flower. I read somewhere that the seeds have been used both as a form of contraceptive, as an alternative medicine for Alzheimer’s disease, as a diuretic, as well as for simple digestive disorders such as wind!

Where does the name come from?  When fully open the flower does indeed look like a lace collar, but the dark red centre flower, or floret, is said to be a drop of Queen Anne’s blood where she pricked her finger while stitching the lace.

This single red floret is said to attract insects, but I like to think it is simply a quirk of nature… I remember the first time I wanted to photograph a flower in full bloom and I tried to remove the brownish red “speck” in the middle, thinking it was a bit of dirt, or a flower that had already started to shrivel up!

And the strange thing is that this speck is not always visible…. Has someone else done the same as me, just before I came along?! Or is this red flower only occasionally produced…

The bud, in its early stages…

                                                  Now beginning to open…

In full bloom… (see the dark centre floret?)

Curling inwards, like a bird’s nest…

And the seeds now clearly visible.


Autumn

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.”
George Eliot

It has been my favourite season for as long as I can remember; perhaps for the relief after the summer heat, or the wonderful still air and the smell of woodsmoke, the morning mists and the dew glistening in the cobwebs , for the blue blue skies and the red, golden, and copper leaves, and for the sound of the leaves falling… and crunching underfoot. Yes, mainly for the leaves. And the pumpkins.

 Come said the wind to
the leaves one day,
Come o’re the meadows
and we will play.
Put on your dresses
scarlet and gold,
For summer is gone
and the days grow cold.

Ceratostigma plumbaginoides

Plumbago (Bleiwurz)

Ceratostigma is a surprisingly hardy little shrub when you consider how delicate the flowers look. I absolutely adore this plant. It thrives in my dry stony soil in the rockery, and can cope with drought and intense heat. It is useful ground cover on this site, appearing fairly late, so ideal for a spot where there are spring bulbs. It flowers from August until the first frosts… and the leaves turn a beautiful shade of reddish brown and bronze while still in bloom, contrasting wonderfully with the azure blue petals.

I’m so glad I discovered it, and am slowly adding new plants to other spots in my rockery garden (it spreads rather slowly). I have tried dividing it, but with limited success.

It is also called leadwort (in Germany Chinesische Bleiwurz) and came to us from China and Asia. The name is derived from the Latin for lead, plumbum, and may have been named so because of the lead-blue flowers or because in Roman times it was believed (by the Roman naturalist Pliny) to be a cure for lead-poisoning.