Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone … W.H. Auden

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volleyed and thundered …Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Stormed at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death … Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Then as if a mirage at sea a village of ramshackle homes
Single story on a sandbank all with gardens of the strangest design
A flea farm, gooseberry bushes and butterflies in net cages … Michael Wolf

The Mushroom is the Elf of Plants … Emily Dickinson



We missed out on the joys of spring this year, thanks to the long drought which seemed to suck the marrow out of the earth. Now, in the autumn, there are pleasing signs of new growth to celebrate the renewal of life. First up is one of many lavender buds that hold the promise of colour and food for bees:

Around the bird feeder are some self-sown tomato plants – I have already picked one small ripe one – a bonus:

In the thick leaf litter in the back garden came an interesting surprise in the form of these two mushrooms:

In the same leaf litter – dry leaves falling off the Erythrina caffra – is the start of a new tree:

Soon the garden is going to be ablaze with the beautifully vibrant aloes, still tightly wrapped:

Then there is a single self-sown Californian Poppy in a pot:

Where there is new growth there is hope.


We were blessed with a few millimeters of rain the other day – enough for the grass to green up and the leaves on the trees to unfurl and shine once more. Along with this wonderful revival of the natural environment and a discernible freshness in the air has come an abundance of fungi. See how this one has pushed its way through the previously hard-baked clay soil:

Some are clustered very close together:

Some are large:

While others, such as this one growing in a cow pat, are smaller and less robust looking. You can see a second one just peeping through below it:

The stems of the above look fragile in comparison with the one below:

Not all of the robust ones are large, as you can tell by the size of this one in relation to the pair of Village Weavers in the foreground:


Some fairy parasols (Coprinus plicatilis) have appeared on our lawn again. Some sources indicate that the scientific name has now changed to (Parasola plicatilis) – that makes sense, for they do look like miniature parasols when the caps first open.

The pleated cap is so thin that it almost appears to be transparent. These mushrooms spring up in the grass after even the lightest rain or even heavy dew, but quickly shrivel to nothing.


What comes to mind when you read or hear the word FUNGI or FUNGUS?

Athlete’s foot? More likely you would think of moulds and yeasts in terms of cheeses and breads. You might even think of mushrooms.

I am pleased to report that we have enjoyed some light rain at last. Within a day these fungi sprang up in the leaf mould next to our driveway.


Now, what about FUNGIBLE?

In legal terms fungible refers to moveable perishables that can be estimated by number of weight, such as wine or grain. The Latin root is fungi, meaning – not mushrooms this time – ‘to perform in place’. Essentially, in our daily lives fungible refers to things that are interchangeable. If you lend someone money or sugar you do not expect the same bank note or the exact sugar grains in return – as long as you receive the same amount. These are all fungible items.

Your binoculars, cell phone and your favourite book are not. You are unlikely to appreciate a substitute of these items if the person who had borrowed them had either lost or broken them.


Many years ago a friend borrowed my copy of Watership Down by Richard Adams. It got water damaged and so she kindly replaced it with a new copy: same story, same author, even the same publisher. The difficulty for me though is that the cover now sports a still from the film instead of the beautiful drawing of rabbits that my original copy had. I have never opened it. The book was nonfungible in my eyes.