Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Mythology of the Rowan (Sorbus Acuparia)

Sorbus acuparia (Rowan)

So is is time for me to start learning the latin names of plants, fruit and vegetables. In terms of learning and adult learning in particular I feel I need to first connect with the relationship I had and have with the plants themselves.

So what do I already know about a Rowan (Sorbus acuparia) ? And why is it called Sorbus acuparia? My first thought is of Scotland where I lived for some years and studied Human Ecology at the University of Edinburgh. I remember gathering Rowan berries in Edinburgh - and making Rowan jelly. The jelly turned out to be a glorious bright orange colour - and I've thought of that ever since when I look at them. I also know though that the berries get squishy quite quickly and as far as eating the jelly was concerned - I was iffy about that as there were so many tiny worms inside them. Extra protein perhaps and extra flavour (?!).

As far as I remember Rowan is also a symbol for wisdom. So it is a lovely plant to be dealing with on a Royal Horticultural Society course. And it features somewhere on the website of Reforesting Scotland.

Here is the Royal Horticultural Society low down on Sorbus Acuparia for you all:

and here is something of the myth and magic of Sorbus Acuparia

Saturday, 29 September 2012

On visiting Bristol's Botanic Gardens

Spent a glorious few hours today at the Botanic Gardens in Bristol. One of the last sunny days in autumn the light today was beautifully soft and I wandered round enjoying the Chinese Medicinal Herb Garden and the Western Herb Garden as well as chatting to the volunteer information officer there who used to be a primary school teacher.

Amazing statistics stayed in my head such as the fact that at least seventy per cent of the world's population rely on medicinal plants for primary health care. On one level I wished I had my camera with me, but then again not everything needs to be photographed, does it? And I'm still on some sort of philosophical, historical and geographical trip in my head about all the plants that I'm seeing and what they signify. Such an important sense of place.

Friday, 28 September 2012

RHS Level One Certificate in Horticulture

I haven't had an awful lot to do with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) so far - having written that I remembered that the allotment I had in the North West was featured in the RHS yellow book of gardens and sites to visit.

BUT - I looked in on the first and second sessions of a level one RHS gardening course this week and last and found myself inspired and so far upheld but challenged by the gentle introduction to the course which appealed to me on many levels - practically, intellectually and even romantically - in the true sense of the word - for a few moments I enjoyed hearing how the dog rose was related to the apple tree and as is often the case - gardening people being down to earth and rather patient - the whole thing spelled a lovely vibe.

But there is serious work to be done too - and those who stay the course will need to learn and be tested on at least 150 common and latin plant names. Let me remind myself which ones I should be learning this week:

Genus followed by Species followed by Common Name
Sorbus - acuparia - Rowan
Olea - europaea - Olive
Fraxinus - excelsior - common ash
Fagus - sylvatica (of the woods) Common beech
Ilex - aquifolium - common holly
Betula - utilis var. jacquemontii - Himalayan birch (silver birch with white stem).

Apparently we need to know plants by Genus and Species preferably - of course common names are not enough as they vary so much from region to region - and also for commercial purposes or for example if you are ordering plants for a client or customer all this has to be done. So far so good.