Britons who do not pave over garden could receive water bill discount, Ofwat says | Water | The Guardian

What we choose to do with the little (or big if we are lucky!) bit of land we call garden , really does matter and the absolute worse thing we can do is kill it with concrete or tarmac.

I am really pleased that water companies are recognising how important it is to just let the rain fall on soil, even if you aren’t growing anything wonderful for wildlife in the soil. The rain goes down and is ends up in the water table, slowly percolating through the soil. It is a very small thing we can do. I call it avoiding ” the curse of tidy” but it makes a big difference to the health of the planet.

Cheaper rates could be applied to those who install water butts under plans unveiled by regulator
— Read on


There are birds rolling in the sky.

There are birds rolling in the sky.

In the slabs of grey and the pushes of black, they tumble between the clouds

Upended, righted , flung and fierce, they ride the blocks of wind,

Solid in their opposition and then cartwheeling as they fall delighting in the dizzying nothingness of clear air.

The shutters bang, house groans.

March blows through every crack .

Willow leaf buds lie flat as fish scales along wet straight wands,

And as I watch, they peal back almost imperceptibly,

leaves waiting to shake free:

When the storm has passed,

And the high tumbling birds can turn

and land.

Lesson 99

I opened an old book which was written to teach English to Portuguese speakers.

I found it in a box of books in Brazil over 20 years ago.

This list of phrases evokes so many possible stories , that I leave the construction of the narrative entirely to you.

“Put on your hat.”


We’re off!

Seeds are in the seed trays.

Some are tiny, some are huge. Some are quick and some are slow, but they each carry within them all the information they need to make everything from an oak tree to a tiny daisy.

Seeds are germinating all around us in the earth, but the ones on my window sill are the most keenly awaited in my world and I stare at the eye level miracle with obsessive greed.

It snowed this morning, but my blue peas are germinating nonetheless. I am growing them because apparently they are the same species as were found in the tomb of the pharaoh Tutankhamen. The flower is bright blue and I have no idea if the pea is even edible. The ancient Egyptians buried their rulers with gold, but they also ensured that they included seeds : the real wealth of life.

The root is pushing down into the soil as we speak and the shoot has already emerged, with the shape of the leaves to come stamped upon the stem.

Now that is ancient magic!

Seed time.

The seed trays are washed. The window sills are being cleared, the soil is ready. The seeds await!

Such tiny things : so, so important!

In Norway, the Global Seed vault stores millions of seeds in cool stable conditions because we all need them so much and they are more precious than gold.

The world may get hotter, colder, wetter or bathed in radiation from the wars that still rumble around us; but the idea is that the seeds stored in the vault will be safe from all this.

The link here takes you on a virtual tour of the world seed bank. It makes me feel a little more hopeful about the future of the planet as I plant my flower seeds this spring.

I hope it will do the same for you!

Spring Snow flakes

As a title, spring snow flake could be describing a late weather event , but after a few recent flurries of snow I am pleased to say it actually describes a flower!

Spring snow flake is like a large snow drop with jaunty pointed petals that flowers in my local forest in the very early spring. As March and spring are now here and I delightedly detached the February page from my calendar yesterday, I thought it was time to see if they had started flowering.

After a long walk through the bare woods it was a great pleasure to see a sweep of their white flowers in the grass by the stream


Leucojum vernum is native to central and southern Europe from Belgium to the Ukraine. It is naturalised in some places in Britain and even the US, as it make a lovely garden bulb in cooler shady spots.

My neighbours tell me it is called the snow piercer in France, as it’s sharp leaves often have to come up through the snow.

Today was snow free. There were black wood peckers in the forest and yellow hammers in the hedge rows were singing “ a little bit of bread and no cheeeeeeese!”.

Spring has properly started!