Biggles does Double Trench Digging, Biggles Does Gardening … and other strange discoveries.

We’ve picked the first leaves of Pak Choi from the Wartime Garden at Newquay Zoo, ready and fresh for our Junior Keeper today to scatter feed as enrichment for our very rare Sulawesi Macaque monkeys.

You can read more about our award-winning Junior Keeper and adult Keeper for a Day scheme on the Newquay Zoo website www.newquayzoo.org.uk

World War Zoo garden items Oct 09 026

W.E.Johns garden article "The Passing Show" January 1940 issue Our Garden magazine

We’ve had some good comments on the World War Zoo project blog and emails from fellow zoo gardeners, so please pass on our garden blog address. The more people read it, the more strange things we will uncover.

Discoveries such as this wartime gardening magazine, with features on gardening in the early months of the war (probably hastily rewritten as most magazines have several months in hand as we found out today). The gardening article is written by no less than Captain W.E. Johns, author of the famous Biggles flying stories (recently reissued) with such daring-do titles as Biggles Defies the Swastika. These would wile away the long hours in the Anderson Shelter or for keepers on night-time  fire watch.

Maybe Biggles does Double Trench Digging never made it further than the waste bin of history.   W.E. Johns (a former pilot) also wrote Worrals of the WAAF to inspire girls with air stories. But I never knew about his other life as a gardener …

We have acquired steadily at Newquay Zoo a small archive of wartime gardening and cookery books to help us with our modern recreation of a wartime zoo keepers’ garden, so we will share with you some of the tips and recipes over the next few months. You can buy powdered eggs still from the 1940s Society website, to attain that truly authentic (and revolting) flavour! (Revolting, according to our visitors at the garden launch weekend in August). Home cooking and ‘grow your own’ food together, history you can eat!

World War Zoo Pak Choi and  garden archive items Oct 09 016

Our first Pak Choi fresh picked at Newquay Zoo for endangered macaque monkeys alongside a wartime gardening magazine from our Newquay Zoo archive

Excitingly we have had our first article about the wartime garden accepted in the BGEN Botanic Gardens Education Network and Botanic Gardens Conservation International BGCI magazine Roots for 2010, so we have a few weeks to get this together for a January copy deadline and then wait a few months for this to appear.

Maybe some exciting Biggles style passages would be welcome?

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One Response to “Biggles does Double Trench Digging, Biggles Does Gardening … and other strange discoveries.”

  1. worldwarzoogardener1939 Says:

    There is more about W E Johns career as a garden writer and his 1937 book The Passing Show and columns for Theo Stephens’ garden magazine My Garden at this website http://www.wejohns.com/Factual/The%20Passing%20Show/

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