Archive for the ‘gardening’ Category

James Garnett of Kew Gardens Menin Gate memorial photo Passchendaele WW1 1917

August 10, 2017

 

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James Garnett of Kew Gardens, remembered amongst Wiltshire regiment casaulties in 1917 high on the wall Panel 53 at the Menin Gate memorial to the missing of Ypres and Passchendaele. Photo by Bob Richards, July / August 2017 . 

 

This photograph of the memorial inscription of the name of Private James Garnett, Kew Gardens staff  name was taken almost 100 years to the day of his death by my fellow WW1 researcher Bob Richards on his recent trip to Ypres for the Passchendaele centenary.

Many thanks Bob. We will feature more of his photos of the memorails to lost zoo and gardens staff at Passchendaele over the next few weeks.

James Garnett, garden staff of Kew Gardens and his WW1  story is told on our blog here

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2017/08/03/remembering-james-garnett-of-kew-gardens-died-ww1-passchendaele-3rd-august-1917/

Blog posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo gardens project, August 2017.

 

War Graves and Girl Gardeners WW1

July 27, 2017

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Amongst my collection of WW1 ephemera is this interesting illustration of ‘girl gardeners’ or, more correctly, members of the Queen Mary’s Auxiliary Army Corps (Q.M.A.A.C.) tending war graves and planting flowers, part of the progress  towards the beautifully planted war cemetery gardens maintained by the CWGC .

I was reminded of this print whilst reading about Nick Stone’s The Returned project http://thereturned.co.uk/

I have written about this for  my local Cornish village war memorial blog https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2017/07/27/tending-war-graves-in-foreign-fields/

This print or illustration  is made whilst  the Commonwealth War Graves Commission CWGC began the long slow and ongoing job of erecting and maintaining  their  distinctive white headstones there to replace the temporary wooden crosses and metal name strips erected by the Graves  Registration Units (GRUs).

As it is cut out from a magazine, possibly to have been framed, it has no date, but a little detective work (below) suggest it is from April 1918 onwards, possibly 1918-1921 or later. Olive Edis’ photographs in the IWM Collection of such scenes appear to be c. 1918 / 1919.

Queen Mary’s Auxiliary Army Corps 1918-20

The Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) was formed following Lieutenant General H M Lawson’s report of 16 January 1917 which recommended employing women in the army in France. Mrs Chalmers Watson became Chief Controller of the new organisation and recruiting began in March 1917, although the Army Council Instruction no 1069 of 1917 which formally established the WAAC was not issued until 7 July 1917.

Although it was a uniformed service, there were no military ranks in the WAAC; instead of officers and other ranks, it was made up of ‘officials’ and ‘members’. Officials were divided into ‘controllers’ and ‘administrators’, members were ‘subordinate officials’, ‘forewomen’ and ‘workers’. The WAAC was organised in four sections: Cookery, Mechanical, Clerical and Miscellaneous; nursing services were discharged by the separate Voluntary Aid Detachments, although eventually an auxiliary corps of the Royal Army Medical Corps was set up to provide medical services for the WAAC.

In appreciation of its good services, it was announced on 9 April 1918 that the WAAC was to be re-named ‘Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps’ (QMAAC), with Her Majesty as Commander-in-Chief of the Corps. At its height in November 1918, the strength of the QMAAC was more than 40,000 women, although nearly 10,000 women employed on Royal Flying Corps air stations had transferred to the Women’s Royal Air Force on its formation in April 1918. Approximately, a total of 57,000 women served with the WAAC and QMAAC during the First World War. Demobilisation commenced following the Armistice in November 1918 and on 1 May 1920 the QMAAC ceased to exist, although a small unit remained with the Graves Registrations Commission at St Pol until September 1921.    (text from the National Archives file WO 398 website descriptor C15099)

http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C15099

The print represents a somewhat floral and sanitised image of a First World War Cemetery, but similar frequently reproduced photographic images exist  in the Imperial War Museum  photographic archives such as images Q 8467 and 8468 WAACs (Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps) at Abbeville, February 1918 http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205214342

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James Wearn, Andrew Budden and Kew colleagues on the Somme mark the area where Kew Gardens WW1 casualty John Divers (pictured) was killed (Image: RBG Kew)

 

CWGC and Kew Gardens Somme 100 talks July 1916

Surprisingly a year has flown past since I attended the Somme 100 talks at Kew Gardens in July 2016

I thought of this floral war graves  print of the “girl gardeners” whilst listening to my research colleague Dr James Wearn at Kew Gardens last year talk about his recent Somme trip. James had been on a combined expedition between CWGC and Kew Gardens staff to take a fresh look at the Flora of The Somme Battlefields 100 years on. They also went to mark where some of their Kew staff like John Divers and Sydney Cobbold were killed and are commemorated.

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/such-is-the-price-of-empire-the-lost-gardeners-of-kew-in-the-first-world-war/

Kew’s longstanding relationship with the CWGC began in February 1916, before the Battle of the Somme had even begun. Thus, Kew’s wartime legacy is tied closely with that of the birth of the Commission. This places it in a unique position to tell the story of the First World War in a new light, focusing on the relationship between people, plants, conflict landscapes and remembrance.

Kew’s wartime Assistant Director, Arthur Hill (later ‘Sir Arthur’ in recognition of his internationally significant work) was given the honorary title of Botanical Advisor to the Commission and the temporary rank of Captain. In March 1916 he headed for France to complete the first of several trips to advise the Commission on planting within war graves cemeteries. Just as the Commission has provided respectful remembrance of lost soldiers, Sir Arthur and Kew helped pioneer the creation of the natural tranquillity which surrounds them.

Taking inspiration from Sir Arthur’s travels on the Somme and his two little-known, poignant accounts – The Flora of the Somme Battlefield (1917) and Our Soldiers’ Graves (1919) – in June [2016], three of Kew’s current staff (led by Dr James Wearn) [met] the CWGC’s Director of Horticulture (David Richardson) and members of the French CWGC team on the Somme.

Kew’s aim is to re-trace Sir Arthur’s footsteps in an emotive journey through the physical space and the psychology of plants and war. The visit will also be moving a tribute to the men of Kew who lost their lives on the battlefields in 1916. (6th July 2016 talk pre -event information)

http://www.kew.org/discover/blogs/kew-science/plants-and-conflict-landscapes-%E2%80%93-somme-and-beyond

Equally interesting was listening to David Richardson, Director of Horticulture of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission talking about their immense and ongoing job in perpetuity  of maintaining the horticultural side of these war graves.

Keeping grassy lawns  and English cottage garden planting from the Edwardian era of Mrs Jekyll going in desert or arid areas in the Middle East is one challenge. Sustainable water use aside, there are also other emerging threats such as vandalism of  cemetery crosses, cemeteries in war zones  or current no-go areas and also  dealing with the effects of climate change such as floods  in Madras in India and sea level rise storm surges in Sierra Leone, Africa.

http://www.cwgc.org/about-us/what-we-do/horticulture.aspx

These areas of sustainable water usage, conflict zones and climate change are very familiar from our zoo animal conservation role in zoos and our overseas projects.

David Richardson claims that the CWGC is probably the largest amenity horticulture organisation in the world, employing over 850 to 900 gardeners worldwide. It is also now taking onboard being a conservation or heritage organisation of hundreds of historic monuments by top architects such as Lutyens and his Thiepval Memorial as it approaches 100 years old.

http://www.cwgc.org/about-us/most-popular-questions/fast-facts.aspx

I was surprised to learn that of the 23,000 cemeteries and burial plots in over 150 countries worldwide,  over half are to be found in the United Kingdom. In 2016, I  visited local WW1 CWGC headstones in a local Newquay cemetery near Newquay Zoo to pay our respects  as part of  the Living Memory project to mark the 141 days of the Somme  http://www.cwgc.org/about-us/cwgc-projects/living-memory.aspx

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2016/10/19/the-somme-the-ennor-family-living-memory-and-our-local-cwgc-headstones-in-newquay/

Somme100

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Kew Joddrell Laboratory / Lecture Theatre, 2016

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A relaxing place to sit and wait of an evening  for the 6th July talk, 2016 Kew Gardens

One clue for the researchers, on the back of the Q.M.A.A.C “girl gardeners” magazine illustration are featured these senior and well-decorated men :

cwgc qmaac back

Possible clue to the WW1  1918-21 date of the print , being the reverse page of the Queen Mary’s Auxiliary Army Corps  illustration, undated – what links all these officers?

A quick coffee break check suggests that these are the memorial portraits of well-decorated senior men, many of whom had died throughout mid to late 1917:

http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/73256/LEIGHTON,%20JOHN%20BURGH%20TALBOT

http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/508940/KERRISON,%20ROGER%20ORME

http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/99349/MAXWELL,%20FRANCIS%20AYLMER

This suggests a magazine date at the earliest of April 1918 onwards, when the QMAAC received its royal name change from the WAAC.

Blogposted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, 27 July 2017

Remembering Frederick Honey of Kew Gardens died WW1 17 April 1917

April 17, 2017

 

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Second panel, Kew Gardens War Memorial D – M C.L. Digoy to P.T. Martin Image: Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project

Sergeant Frederick Honey, G/20245, 8th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment or the Buffs (East Kent) Regiment, ‘died of wounds’ 17 April 1917, aged 28.

He is buried at Grave Reference I. K. 16, Chocques Military Cemetery. This was located next to No.1 Casualty Clearing Station for casualties from the Bethune area.

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Chocques Military Cemetery (Image source: CWGC)

He is listed as the son of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Honey, of 64, Alexandra Rd., Richmond; husband of Ellen May Honey, of 17, Darell Rd., Richmond, Surrey.

His CWGC entry mentions no inscription chosen by family on his headstone, which is pictured on the TWGPP website.

He is mentioned in a list of “Gangers, labourers and boys” in Kew’s 1914 staff list and as one of “six Members of the labouring staff killed in action” in the Kew Guild Journal 1919 Roll of Honour.

8th Battalion East Surrey Regiment WW1

The 8th (Service) Battalion landed at Boulogne-sur-Mer as part of the 55th Brigade in the 18th (Eastern) Division in July 1915 also for service on the Western Front.

The battalion fought at the Battle of Loos and the Battle of the Somme.

One particular incident will always be remembered. On the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 1 July 1916, B Company of the 8th Battalion went into the attack dribbling two footballs which the Company Commander, Captain Wilfred Nevill, had bought for his platoons to kick across No Man’s Land.

Captain Nevill and many of his men were killed during the advance, but the 8th Surreys were one of the few battalions to reach and hold their objective on this day. The ‘Football Attack’ caught the imagination of the country, and illustrations of it are shown in the Regimental Museum, which also contains one of the footballs used. On that day, the 8th Battalion won two DSOs, two MCs, two DCMs and nine MMs, but 446 officers and men were killed or wounded.

Frederick Honey, remembered 100 years later, 17 April 1917 / 2017.

On Ancestry U.K. one family tree entry for Frederick Alfred Honey lists him on the 1911 census as a Gardener’s Labourer (Board Of Agriculture). There is also a photograph of him with his brother Christopher Thomas Honey, Royal Garrison Artillery, who died of wounds in France on 12 June 1917. 

A double loss for this family.

Blogposted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo.

Laggard Spring 1917

March 21, 2017

Spring 1917 Wartime – March 21st , uncannily like the weather today a century later. Hail and sunshine.

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Homeland A Year of Country Days by PWDI (Percy W. D. Izzard) 1918

Here in the preface, Percy Izzard sets out the structure for his year of inspirational short pieces about country life. These are  made especially poignant or valuable as his work was read not only by “war-workers … men and women of country heart who are pent now for England’s sake in the reek of great towns” isolated from the countryside but also  “amid the cruel distractions of war” by troops in the trenches who obtained a Daily Mail from friends and families.

Based on letters received from soldiers, Percy Izzard realised that his daily entries  provided to “soldier lads in France and Flanders, in rough notes pencilled on the battlefields … glimpses of the Homeland  for which they long and fight.”

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This book of nature writing by Percy Izzard,  reproduced from his nature  column in the Daily Mail, begins unusually not on January 1st but on the first day of spring 1917, the spring equinox, March 21st.

It finishes a year later on March 20th and Izzard’s preface, written after preparing them for publication in book form, was written on April 21st, 1918.

Having checked the obvious date references, like references to Sundays etc, I am fairly sure this is written from March 1917 to March 1918 onwards as the First World War raged across Europe.

It finishes documenting country life in Britain during this year of attrition and killing, on March 20 1918  just as the Western Front collapses with the German onslaught of late March 1918.

The Writer Percy Izzard?

I have previously written about Percy Izzard and this Homeland book on this and a local history blog:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2015/04/20/remembering-william-donald-pascoe-april-1915-primrose-day-and-percy-izzard/

https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2015/04/20/remembering-william-donald-pascoe-died-20-april-1915/

Percy W. (William) D. Izzard OBE (September 1877 – 1968) was the well-known gardening correspondent on the Daily Mail newspaper.

He was author of several books on gardening including Grow it Yourself: Daily Mail Practical Instruction Book on Food from the Garden in War-Time (1940), one of the  Dig For Victory books in my collection of WWII gardening books.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Percy_Izzard

Blogposted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo, 21 March 2017

 

Remembering Kew’s Sydney Cobbold died Somme 3rd October 1916

October 3, 2016

Sydney Cobbold (Kew Guild photo)

Sydney Cobbold of the 8th Battalion, Rifle Brigade died 3rd October 1916, Somme area (Kew Guild photo)

Remembering along with  Kew Gardens staff, the Cobbold family and The Rifle Brigade  /  Rifles, the 100th anniversary of the death on 3rd October 2016 on the Somme of  Sergeant Sydney George Cobbold, 8th Battalion Rifle Brigade. He was a  Kewite on the Gardens staff of Kew Gardens from 1906 to 1908.

His CWGC  entry lists his headstone inscription from his father Maurice as “His Country Called / He Answered” and a TWGPP photo exists of his headstone. Sidney / Sydney was the son of Maurice and Anna Cobbold, of Woolpit, Suffolk where he was born.

He is buried at Grave Reference II. B. 7, Le Fermont Military Cemetery, Rivière, a front line cemetery of 80 burials begun by the 55th (West Lancashire) Division in March 1916 and closed in March 1917.

Looking at the Graves Registration GRU documents, it appears that on the same day that Sgt Cobbold was killed, 4 other 8th Rifle Brigade were killed and buried in the same plot 2 Row B of this front line cemetery alongside him – Rifleman L.J. Farr, W.G. Kittle, Benjamin Gordon (Jewish star in place of a cross) and fellow sergeant J.R. Aspden, Military Medal. Cobbold lies among his comrades and his men.

Read more about him and the other Kew WW1 casualties on their staff war memorial:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/such-is-the-price-of-empire-the-lost-gardeners-of-kew-in-the-first-world-war/

It was partly  thanks to Sarah, one of his Cobbold relatives, that I first became aware of the Kew Gardens staff war memorial.

James Wearn at Kew has written an article on Sydney Cobbold with help form Sarah and myself for the Rifle Brigade regimental magazine.

So he is not forgotten by his regiment, his family or his workplace.

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Sergeant Cobbold and Rifles comrades lie buried in the small Le Fermont Cemetery, Somme. (Image: CWGC)

Country Life 1986 article on WW1 Wartime Gardening

August 10, 2016

country life 1

Not my usual read but these two pages are  an interesting article from a thirty year old copy of Country Life  (Jan 23, 1986) that was passed to me because of my interest in WW1 and wartime gardening.

country life 2

This is an interesting article by Audrey Le Lievre , especially for me having been involved with Kew Gardens wartime stories and also researched their staff war memorial stories. Audrey Le Lievre as a garden writer is a new name to me but wrote Miss Willmott of Warley Place: Her Life and Her Gardens (Faber, 1980).

Lots of interesting links and names for garden historians to follow up here (the Worcester Fruit and Vegetable Society?) through the online scans of garden journals. The photographs have come from the Lindley Library.

I came across  information about WW1 food shortages, rationing and dig for victory style campaigns of WW1, focussed around researching former Kewite and  garden writer Herbert Cowley. Invalided soldier gardener Cowley worked as an editor and garden writer, as garden photographer and friend of Gertrude Jekyll and at one point for Country Life.

Full circle back to Country Life there…

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More on WW1 Gardening here:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2014/08/03/remembering-ww1-in-zoos-and-gardens/

and also an article I wrote for a local village in Cornwall about WW1 life and food: https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2014/06/28/life-in-wartime-devoran-in-world-war-1/

ww1 ration book

WW1 Ration books (Author’s collection)

 

Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo.

 

 

 

 

 

Remembering Allan Beard of Kew WW2 died 1946

August 6, 2016

Kew Gardens lost 14 staff on active service in WW2 including a postwar casualty Allan Beard who died around 6 August 1946, 70 years ago today.

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Kew Gardens WW2 staff War memorial part 3  (photo:  Mark Norris)  

The 14th and last name on the Kew Gardens staff war memorial is Allan Beard, who served as a despatch rider with the Middlesex Regiment and died aged 31 a “tragic death” just after the war, possibly from injury related to war service.

His obituary http://www.kewguild.org.uk/articles/1855/ appeared in the 1946 Kew Guild Journal.

Beard had been a gardener on the Parks Staff at Stamford Park, Ashton Under Lyne until he joined up in 1939. http://www.tameside.gov.uk/parks/stamford/history

Along with several garden colleagues, he had joined Hyde Company, Territorial Army section of the 6th Cheshire Regiment in early 1939; this would see him very quickly called into service three days before war broke out. By October 1939, he was serving with the Middlesex Regiment and fought through the campaigns of 1940 in Northern France and Belgium, eventually being evacuated from Dunkirk.

Back in Britain, instead of promotion Allan Beard chose to train as a despatch rider partly from a love of motorbikes.

Sadly he was the victim of a wartime traffic accident (not surprising with blackout etc), being struck by an army lorry in Canterbury in 1943.

By June 1944 he had been discharged from the army on medical grounds and returned to his previous garden job. Stamford Park by then had lost its railings in wartime, collected as salvage metal for the war effort, but had been maintained as a public park, popular like Kew Gardens with people encouraged in wartime to “holiday at home”.

Allan Beard entered Kew in August 1946 under a Government assisted training scheme. His obituary is reported in the 1946 Kew Guild Journal but not listed on the CWGC website as his death occurred as a civilian after military service. It may have been linked to his earlier accident.

To read more about Kew Gardens in WW2:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/04/06/the-lost-gardeners-of-kew-in-world-war-two/

Allan Beard of Kew Gardens, remembered 70 years on.

Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project, Newquay Zoo.

A riot of vegetable colour in Newquay Zoo’s wartime garden

May 17, 2016

chard 2016

Just a few photographs to celebrate our World War Zoo wartime garden project here at Newquay Zoo, May 2016, entering its eighth summer.

A 1940s stirrup pump lies hidden amongst the colourful  Chard and Garlic, rusty but  still in fine working order.

The gardener’s  wartime steel helmet hangs on the garden gate, ready to grab in case the air raid siren sounds …

chard stirrup pump 2016

Bright Lights, a collection of colourful Chard overwintered and ready to cut as colourful edible bouquets for enriching our monkey diets. Delicious.

chard artichoke 2016

Another year of Globe Artichokes awaits, another monkey favourite, complete with earwigs.

The strange bird table affair is not mounting for an air raid siren but where we place our portable speakers for the 2.30 Lion  talk a few yards away.

Sparrows dustbathe between the Broad bean rows. The Meerkat section Robin follows the hoe or watering can. Pesky Peacocks nibble emerging shoots.

Rosemary, Curry Plant, Thyme, Mint, Lemon Balm, Nasturtiums,  Leeks and Broad Beans  are all waiting their turn, their moment and their edible or sensory enrichment use.

Dig for Victory, Dig For Plenty and  ‘Hasten slowly’ as Mr Middleton would say. Happy Gardening!

Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project, Newquay Zoo, 17 May 2016.

 

More wartime garden in bloom pictures and a little Mr. Middleton

August 23, 2015

We have had some great positive responses from people who’d seen our photos from the World War Zoo Gardens Wartime allotment at Newquay Zoo.

Here as promised are some more photos, including more flowers for a bit of wartime colour.

More photos of our poppies in the World War Zoo Garden, Newquay Zoo, August 2015 

More photos of our poppies in the World War Zoo Garden, Newquay Zoo, August 2015

middleton calender cover

Flowers in a wartime garden?

18th September 2015 is the 70th anniversary of the sudden death in 1945 of Mr. Middleton the celebrity wartime garden broadcaster and writer.

One of my favourite quotes from him is extra poignant in that sadly Mr Middleton never lived to fulfil or see this postwar return to flowering gardens:

In happier days we talked of rock gardens, herbaceous borders and verdant lawns; but with the advent of war and its grim demands, these pleasant features rapidly receded into the background to make way for the all important food crop … Presumably most of my old friends still listen when I hold forth on Leeks, Lettuces and Leatherjackets, instead of Lilac, Lilies and Lavender … These are critical times, but we shall get through them, and the harder we dig for victory, the sooner will the roses be with us again …

Quoted on the back of Duff Hart-Davis’ new book Our Land At War: A Portrait of Rural Britain 1939-45 (William Collins, 2015) – review forthcoming on this blog soon.

More nasturtiums in the World War Zoo Garden, Newquay Zoo, August 2015 

More edible nasturtiums in the World War Zoo Garden, Newquay Zoo, August 2015

“Money spent on flowers, in moderation, is never wasted”

quoted in C. H. Middleton, Your Garden in Wartime, 1941 (p. 26, reprinted Aurum Press, 2010)

“For the moment potatoes, onions, carrots and so on must receive our full attention: but we may look forward to the time when this nightmare will end, as end it must – and the morning will break with all our favourite flowers to greet us once more, and, who knows perhaps my next volume of talks will be of roses, mignonette, daffodils and lilies.” C.H.M, June 1941

C. H. Middleton, Your Garden in Wartime, 1941 (p. 5, reprinted Aurum Press, 2010)

More pictures of colourful and often edible flowers in the World War Zoo Garden, Newquay Zoo, August 2015.

Perennial sweet peas - as the edible peas failed to germinate this year -  in the World War Zoo Garden, Newquay Zoo, August 2015 

Perennial sweet peas – as the edible peas failed to germinate this year –  in the World War Zoo Garden, Newquay Zoo, August 2015

The alternate baking and soaking weather this August has really brought out the strong colours in this veg such as this Ruby / Rhubarb Chard.

Rhubarb chard  in the World War Zoo Garden, Newquay Zoo, August 2015 

Rhubarb chard  in the World War Zoo Garden, Newquay Zoo, August 2015

Perennial sweet peas overlooking the emptying summer beds, produce harvested.

Proof of good eating! One of the Globe artichokes picked with our Junior Keepers this week at Newquay Zoo and thrown into the rare ‘Yaki’ Sulawesi Macaque Monkeys becomes enrichment – unusual food, plaything, must-have toy …

This is food for our animals so fresh it travels food metres, not miles, and is still almost growing when eaten, foods seconds or minutes from allotment ground to animal gourmets.

Young Sulawesi Macaque Monkey and a Globe Artichoke almost as big as him from our wartime garden allotment, Newquay Zoo, August 2015

Young Sulawesi Macaque Monkey and a Globe Artichoke almost as big as him from our wartime garden allotment, Newquay Zoo, August 2015

We hope Mr Middleton would approve of our edible garden with flowers and vegetables, even though not everything has gone well this year.

The harvest of a Macaque and Capuchin monkey favourite  – broad beans in fresh pods and on the stem / haulm – has been very poor this year. They were saved seed and seemed to show no better progress on the Growmore fertiliser side of the plot than the organic green manure side. These will soon be harvested, the haulms dug in and planting for next spring begun.

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Sulawesi macaque monkeys on our zoo graphics sign for the garden, tucking into broad beans.  Top photo: Jackie Noble. 

Posted by Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo World War Zoo Gardens project August 2015

Remembering William Donald Pascoe April 1915, Primrose Day and Percy Izzard

April 20, 2015

Cross-posting from another research post about a local war memorial in Cornwall, I featured a lyrical couple of pages from Homeland, a book written in 1918 from press pieces by garden writer Percy Izzard.

April 19th and 20th entries, Homeland: A Book of Country Days (1918) Percy W D Izzard

April 19th and 20th entries, Homeland: A Book of Country Days (1918) Percy W D Izzard

He later wrote the more prosaic Daily Mail guide to Dig for Victory in WW2, which I have used as topical advice of the time for our World War Zoo Gardens WW2 allotment project here at Newquay Zoo.

Preface to Percy Izzard's Homeland (1918)

Preface to Percy Izzard’s Homeland (1918)

One can imagine the solace that Izzard’s  writing gave during wartime to anxious relatives and soldiers far from their Homeland”, all part of the healing power of nature, albeit a slightly romantic and vanishing countryside.

Lots more could be written about his book (available second hand on the web) and I will feature more about Izzard and his book Homeland close to its centenary in 2018.

Lyrical and lush, maybe even painterly in places, it chimes with contemporary efforts like the Wildlife Trust’s My Wildlife campaign and Project Wild Thing, to value the healing power of nature and get people outdoors. Gardening Leave the ex-forces horticultural therapy group would no doubt agree.

The Future of Nature Writing?

Continuing the Izzard tradition, nature writers like Gerald Durrell  inspired (and continues to inspire?) a whole generation of conservationists who work alongside me in zoos and wildlife parks.

I wonder what the next generation of nature writers will be like and how they will communicate?

I shall have to ask the Wildlife Education and Media students next door at Cornwall College Newquay.

The slow calm and quiet headspace created by good nature writing from people like Richard Mabey in Nature Cure and others, pioneered in the past nature writing competitions by BBC Wildlife magazine, still has a power to engage people with conservation and wildlife, even in the manic days of tweets, podcasts, dramatic whizzy films and apps.

Good nature writing can be as calming as  a quiet country churchyard full of wildflowers but on a page and at your own pace.

Interesting compilations of nature writing can be found online including the Guardian based  Country Diary (see article about 1914) collected as The Guardian Book of Wartime Country Diaries (Martin Wainwright, 2007) or an older US compilation The Nature Reader by Daniel Halpern.

By the way, whatever happened to Primrose Day?

Does anyone still celebrate this?

Primroses seem to be doing well enough in Plantlife’s http://www.plantlife.org.uk/wild_plants/nations_favourite_wildflower

You can read a little more about Percy Izzard (who will feature in a forthcoming blog here in 2016/7)  and William Pascoe at the original blog I wrote:

https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2015/04/20/remembering-william-donald-pascoe-died-20-april-1915/

Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo.

Back to Nature: The quiet  riches of a country churchyard where William D. Pascoe, WW1 casualty is remembered on the family plot amongst wildflowers, pinecones and primroses. Devoran Churchyard, Cornwall,  April 2015.  Image: Mark Norris

Back to Nature: The quiet riches of a country churchyard where William D. Pascoe, WW1 casualty is remembered on the family plot beneath the fir tree amongst wildflowers, pinecones and primroses. Devoran Churchyard, Cornwall, April 2015.
Image: Mark Norris


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