As I was awakened this morning by the alarm clock trampling all over me as he does to wake me up at 6.30am every morning (anyone know how to get a cat to realise the clocks went back weeks ago?), Alexa told me I was in for a dreary day. She was talking about the weather, of course. It’s that time of year when it’s dull and dreary more than it’s sunny. But still, there’s lots to do and an extra layer of clothing does the trick. And however dreary the weather I can still have a fun day. I’ll be off outside in a coffee.
But first, I have to scrape the proverbial barrel and conjure up six things to satisfy the unrelenting demands of The Propagator, a.k.a. The Composter. So without further ado, here is my not entirely dreary six for today.
1 Getting Naked
Last week I included a photo of my Prunus Kojo-no-mai respendent in it’s fiery autumnal foliage and predicted that the leaves would have dropped by today. In the event, they didn’t make it overnight into Sunday. We had wind on Saturday night. Strong wind. And on Sunday morning the bush (which is technically a small tree) was bare.
2 Some Sort of Laurel
I discovered this today whilst scraping the proverbial barrel for six things that weren’t endless repeats. It’s appeared at the back of the shrubbery, un-noticed until today. Presumably a bird or something has dropped a seed. What I don’t know is whether this is as it should look or whether the mottling is a result of insufficient moisture, given its very sheltered location. But I’ll leave it be and see what happens and maybe lift it and relocate somewhere else next year.
3 Podophyllum ‘Spotty Dotty’
Supposedly herbaceous, this is showing no sign of defoliating for the winter yet. A nice bit of green in a sea of dead.
4 Daphne odorata ‘Perfume Princess’
This is supposed to flower early in the year. Well it’s getting a head start. And even as the buds just start to open, the scent is strong.
5 Unseasonal Heather
Another plant getting ahead of itself. This is supposed to be spring flowering, planted to provide an early nectar source for bees that don’t wait for the alarm clock to wake them up. But, as it has done for several years now, it’s decided to become a winter flowering variety. It’ll be well past it before the first bee appears.
The foliage of the cardoon is impressive when fresh. Though as next spring gives way to summer, it will rapidly become tatty and require regular removal of the dead and dying. It’ll look fine through the winter though until the lilac growing through it bursts into flower.
Bonus: Conundrum Answer
Last week I posed a conundrum. I gave two clues. Well I gave the same clue twice as I asked a question. The clue was “conundrum”. which the OED defines as “A confusing and difficult problem or question.” Below a photograph of half an avocado I asked whether an avocado was a fruit or a berry. And I demanded a single word answer. The question was confusing. “Is an avocado a fruit or a berry?” appears to be asking you to make one choice out of two options and answer “fruit” or “berry” as you can only use one word.
So how many of you dived off to Google and asked the question? And Google, being very informative, might have explained the difference between “fruit” and “berry”. And confused you with “taxonomy” and “botany” in the process. You might have got clever and answered “Yes” which is a single word and quite clever in a sense as you’d think you were covering all eventualities. Yes, an avocado is a fruit or a berry. But all of these answers are wrong. As is “no” or “neither” if you’re in the avocado-is-a-vegetable clique. Avocados may be used as vegetables but vegetables they are not. This is a gardening meme not a cooking one. Gardeners say tomatoes are fruits but did you know a court case in America decided that tomatoes are vegetables for tax purposes?
You see, as we lose the innocence of childhood and become adults, we tend to over-complicate. We become wary of a one answer and one alternative situation. So my question seemed to demand a careful answer. There must be a trick. And there was.
All berries are fruits but not all fruits are berries. Botanically there are some 20+ different types of fruits of which berries are one. Did you know, for example, that a banana is a berry but a strawberry is not? In this case there is some debate which boils down to carps. No, not the fishy ones but something called the endocarp – the coating around the seed. Fruits with a soft endocarp, like the tomato, are called berries whilst those with a hard bony or leathery one are called drupes. But drupes seem to be recognised by some as a sub-division of berries which are themselves a sub-division of fruits. I’m trying to keep it simple! Well not really. What I’m showing is that as adults we can take the simplest question and over-complicate it.
For example the joke question “How do you get an elephant into a fridge?” has the simple answer “You open the door, put the elephant inside and close the door again.” The question didn’t mention the size of the fridge.
So what is the answer to the avocado question? You have some choices. “Maybe” and “possibly” (though not “probably”) would be correct as would any other word that means the same as “maybe” and “possibly”.
Why is this?
The name “avocado” applies to the fruit/berry/drupe but it also applies to the tree that bears the fruit. So an avocado may be a fruit and/or berry but it may also be a tree. Simples.
Now why not relax your brain and pop over to our glorious leader’s blog where, at the root end of his post of the day you will find lots of links to other, less confusing sixes to occupy yourself if it’s too dreary to venture outside.
Until next time, enjoy your garden.