Category Suburban Wild Diaries

11th May 2021 – what’re you lookin’ at?

There’s been at least one youth hanging out in our back garden for the last few days. I’m amazed these feisty but fragile-looking bundles of fluff survived last week’s storm. Or perhaps they didn’t and there is a fresh batch of robin fledglings coming to the garden every day. Either way, these young ones already […]

5th May 2021 – virtual pavement salad

I entirely understand that, given the number of dogs in London, the idea of actually eating pavement plants probably isn’t that appealing. So today I’m looking for ingredients for a ‘virtual’ pavement salad. I find some Common Cornsalad nestled at the bottom of a wall – its cluster of tiny pale mauve flowers echo the […]

26th April 2021 – poison in the park

It wasn’t long ago that I’d avoid trying to identify a plant in the carrot family – other than Cow Parsley – particularly when it wasn’t in flower. But nothing ventured etc., so here goes…. In Crystal Palace Park, I notice a spray of leaves with a different visual rhythm to familiar Cow Parsley leaves. […]

18th April 2021 – Nature-sharing Rue on the Thames Path

There ought to be an expression for the experience of seeing something in nature which delights you but you have no-one at that moment to share it with. That does sound a bit sad, although has more pathos than I’d intended. Would ‘nature-sharing rue’ do it? To be clear, I absolutely love walking and nature-watching […]

9th April 2021 – Wood-rushes in Wandsworth

I haven’t missed pubs, but botanizing in company again feels like an exceptional treat. Today I’m going on a plant hunt in Wandsworth Cemetery with Roy Vickery and a group from the South London Botanical Society. I meet first with Sarah Webley on her patch, Wandsworth Common. This area is new to me and hadn’t […]

12th April 2021 – A strange kind of beauty

“Mum, can I come?” Words which are always a lovely surprise. After negotiating a mix of walking and plant-hunting, we set off in warm sun and arrive at the Woodland Trust site near Biggin Hill as it is starting to cloud over. It rarely happens, but on this occasion the botanical treat was growing right […]

Seeing past the snowdrops – Guest blog for London Wildlife Trust

Writing this guest blog was a great opportunity to think about what spring means to me.

5th April 2021 – a passion for the hairiest of miners

“Yes, yes, YES!” I say as I fling myself onto the ground at the foot of an oak. This is passion, but possibly not of the kind you’re imagining. Lying on my stomach, I raise up onto my elbows so I can point my camera. A tiny and lushly-hairy bee is skirting a recently mined […]

29th March 2021 – it’s a big day today!

This housing estate in south London is my favourite for plant-hunting. Not too tidy or gardened, but not too quiet or edgy either. There’s clearly need here – with a busy and efficient foodbank run from the community centre – but I feel relatively safe kneeling or lying on the pavement taking photographs of plants. […]

22nd March 2021 – the original spring beauty

Edging the pavement in front of the care home, I find eye-catching green sprigs of Springbeauty (Claytonia perfoliata). The fused and slightly fleshy leaves beneath clusters of delicate five-petalled flowers are unmistakable. This plant, native to western North America, is edible and has a mild fresh taste. Also known as Miner’s Lettuce, research suggests that […]