Wednesday, 25 April 2012

The Good, The Bad And

The not so ugly.
In fact, it's not ugly at all.

This is Berberis darwinii, an evergreen shrub discovered in South America by Charles Darwin in 1835. That is, if you ignore the fact that prehistoric man was eating the berries many years earlier. However, being as prehistoric man wasn't into the naming of plants, probably too busy running away from mammoths, the shrub was named after Darwin.

My plant was grown by Nature, not by me. It really is an excellent wildlife plant. At this time of year, it is in full bloom, a real bee magnet. When the flowers have finished, the birds move in and nest in the prickly branches. The foliage is like small holly leaves. If you're wondering why the birds aren't nesting here now, well would you want to live with the constant hum of bees ? No, thought not. Later in the season, the shrub produces berries that are quickly devoured by the birds.

And the good and the bad bit ? Well, here in the UK, Berberis darwinii has been given the Award Of Garden Merit, a sort of plant Oscar, by the Royal Horticultural Society. But in New Zealand it has escaped into the wild, and is considered to be a plant pest. It's not often that a plant attracts such opposite views, dependent on where you live.

You may recall, in my last post I mentioned that I had been nominated for the Versatile Blogger award by Mary at Going Native, and that I needed to put my thinking cap on before responding to the rules. Well job done, so here goes:
Firstly, I have to list seven things about myself. You have my permission to log off now if you wish.

1. I'm a plantaholic. I have to attend those meetings, now what are they called ?  Oh yes, plant fairs.

2. My favourite colour is blue, the colour of the sky and the sea and I could go on. I usually do.

3. My favourite band is The Ukulele Orchestra Of Great Britain. If you've never heard of them, and you probably haven't, check them out on YouTube.

4. I love quirky, unusual gadgets, like the window vac. Yes, I vacuum my greenhouse, doesn't everyone ?

5. My blogger name was inspired by a variety of lettuce; Little Gem. Now I know that a crystal isn't actually a gem, but we can't let facts get in the way of a good story.

6. I'm a musician and a songwriter, and had one of my songs banned by the BBC. It wasn't rude, by the way.

7. I'm not getting any younger, but thanks to the government, I'm not getting any nearer to retirement age either.

As for the bit about nominating 15 blogs, this is where I break the rules. My blog list contains far more than 15 blogs, many of them already have this award, and some are award free blogs. So to solve this predicament, I'll just say if you want to read some really great blogs, check out my blog list for starters.


  1. Congrats on the award, well deserved. My Berberis is out and looks lovely - can't say i have noticed the birds on it though - note to self - must be more observant.

    1. Thanks Elaine. The birds won't move in until after flowering. I've had blackbirds and wrens nesting in it.

  2. I thought I was slightly mad...clearly there are 'others' out!
    So let's have a link to your banned song, surely worthy of an airing, publicity & maybe a second chance. Times have moved on...go for it.
    Congrats on your award, well deserved xxx

    1. Thanks Jane. Can't give you a link to the song just yet, it was only released on vinyl. But if there's enough interest, I might upload it to t'internet. As you say, times have moved on.

  3. I stood under our crabapple tree and listened to the bees. It is not native to my area, so no birds build nests in it and nothing eats the fruit. I didn't know that when I planted it. But the spring blossoms are gorgeous and I love the structure of the tree.
    I'm going to have to check out The Ukulele Orchestra Of Great Britain.

    1. Hi Mary, I recommend their versions of 'Life On Mars' and 'You Don't Send Me Flowers.' Both songs demonstrate their brilliant musicianship.

  4. Hi Crystal,

    I love Berberis darwinii, and have several in the garden and yes I planted them.
    My main reason was for colour, the fact bees love them and then birds eat the berries. Great shrub.......

    Very interesting reading the ten facts about you. I am also a bit sad, and vacuum my greenhouse :)

    1. Hi Cheryl, so you vacuum the greenhouse too. There's no hope for us is there ?

  5. I love Berberis darwinii too - it's a shame it's a pest in New Zealand.

    Point 7 is brilliant. As for the window vac use - it's inspired. Surely you're not banned from airing that song on your own blog? Go on.... we're all stuck indoors with this rain.... a captive and willing audience!

    1. Hi, thanks for visiting my blog. No link to the song yet, but I'm working on it. In the meantime, how about the first verse as a taster:

      "Have you heard about the men from Whitehall,
      Who will come here wielding their axe ?
      They sprinkle VAT on our fish n chips,
      And they're not going to stop at that."

      In fact, if you substitute 'hot pasties' for the 'fish n chips' , it becomes as relevant today as it was then. What goes around comes around.

    2. You've whetted my appetite! Excellent first verse.... and another?

    3. Oh okay then, second verse:

      "Have you heard about the men from Whitehall,
      Cos now they've got another idea,
      With local councils ruled by Labour,
      They're gonna make 'em disappear."

      It was the time when the government were getting rid of metropolitan councils. One council based in Barnsley adopted the song as their campaign song. Hence the radio ban.

  6. Mam w ogródku berberys, ale o czerwonych liściach. Nagrody gratuluję :-). Pozdrawiam.
    I'm in the garden barberry, but with red leaves. Awards congratulations :-). Yours.