Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Loss of biodiversity

The names alone should cause anyone whose heart still beats to stop and look again. Blotched woodwax. Pashford pot beetle. Scarce black arches. Mallow skipper. Marsh dagger. Each is a locket in which hundreds of years of history and thousands of years of evolution have been packed. Here nature and culture intersect. All are species that have recently become extinct in England....

As a child I watched chalk downlands, where rare orchids and wild strawberries, adonis blues and marbled whites, whitethroats and hobbies, flint pits and burial mounds had survived since the Neolithic, being wiped clean by ploughs, to produce grain that fed nothing but the subsidy mountains. Now I watch the remaining scraps of our collective memory erased to grow biofuels which produce more greenhouse gases than the petroleum they replace......

So says George Monbiot in his article on the Naming of Things, the loss in this country, let alone in the world of all those insects, birds and wild plants we allow to pass into extinction.

We should name each and everyone of these little creatures, so that their small fates will not go unheeded by us.
Yesterday I rescued a beautiful white tailed queen bee out of the water into which she had tumbled, placing her in the sun to dry under the hedge. The first warm weather brings out these gentle creatures. This morning I remembered that I had'nt started off the seeds of the white nicotiana, an evening flower for moths, the flower itself gives off a luminosity in the gathering dusk, and a sweet scent; there is also the yellow of evening primrose, no graceful creature this plant, ungainly in growth, with its yellow flowers opening one at a time up the stem, it's chief charm is the opening of the flower in the evening which you can watch as it gradually unfold, then bursts open, only to suddenly droop for a few seconds before it recovers its bloom - think of a butterfly or dragonfly leaving their chyrsalis.

The Naming of Things


  1. I didn't realize that moths were attracted to Nicotiana, so I will buy some seeds tday and get them sown. Mind you, the last time I did that I had 100% germination and had about 300 Nicotiana sylvestris seedlings to find homes for!

    How I despair of mankind - short-term "gains" for permanent obliteration of species . . . all in the name of money. Filthy lucre indeed!

  2. Yes moths love it, those packets of tiny seeds do create a lot of little plants - you have to be ruthless, or let the slugs do it for you. Sown, pots of lettuce, radish, spinach and yellow tomatoes. Found following plants at B&Q yesterday, foxgloves, sweet williams, and lavender ;) Its definitely getting warmer!