Show me the way to tomatillo chutney

By Ruth D’Alessandro, The Wildlife Gardener The Wildlife Gardener loves tomatillos. They were a success last year, an even better one this year. Now that my current culinary obsession is pickling and bottling, it seemed only right that Tomatillo Chutney should come out of the Wildlife Garden kitchen. Also, Mr Mike Lang of Another Pint Please has been transatlantically waiting for this day. So Mikey Baby, this one’s for you.

Tomatillo chutney ingredients

I must admit that this is not wholly an original Wildlife Garden recipe. It’s more of a Hugh-Fearnley-Whittingstall-meets-Geeta-Samtani chimera: the gist of it has been taken from The River Cottage Cookbook, but I’ve aligned the spicing to Geeta’s Mango Chutney (THE best, with whole peppercorns, cardamoms and cloves floating about) so I didn’t have to fiddle about tying up spices in a little muslin bag and dangling into the saucepan. The bulk of the ingredients did come from the Wildlife Garden, though. Continue reading Show me the way to tomatillo chutney

Glum councillors

Of course, this would never happen on the Isle of Wight. No, sir. And even if it did, it would quite literally be more than my job’s worth to blog about it. But apparently local politicians have a bit of a penchant for appearing in the media pointing at stuff. Kissing babies is just so 1930s, it seems. Pointing is the new way to get elected.

Councillor Phil Moffatt investigates the pothole crisis at Fieldton Road

Councillor Phil Moffatt of Croxteth investigates
the pothole crisis at Fieldton Road

Now there’s a new blog collating all these splendid images for our entertainment and maybe even to publicise the good work our local councillors do, in their own time, for the good of the community. Oh, and to take the mickey out of them. Just a little bit. Continue reading Glum councillors

Darwin Today exhibition on tour

Guest review by Rowan Adams Fancy something educational and worthy? Or would you prefer fun and silly, or thought-provoking and stimulating? The Darwin Today exhibition touring the country offers a bit of all of the above.

Darwin exhibition

Like the Ranger himself, I live on the Isle of Wight, so I went to see the exhibition at the jewel in the Island’s crown, Ventnor Botanic Garden. For any Naturenet readers who live on the Isle of Wight, or any of you poor unfortunates who live somewhere less gorgeous but who might be tempted to visit, there are more Darwin-related events listed in the Council’s summer walks leaflet. Continue reading Darwin Today exhibition on tour

Destroy all trim trails!

The trim trail. A circuit of exercise equipment spread throughout a park or path, for visitors to undertake regulated exercise upon. Derived from the military assault-course training technique, the trim trail was very much in vogue in the 1970s and 80s. Whilst they’re not quite the in-thing any more, there are still plenty of them around. The Ranger has an unreasonable, irrational hatred of this stalwart of municipal open space. My colleagues are probably sick of hearing me ranting against them – and of politely failing to hear my querulous demands to rip the things out of my parks. I mean, how bad can they be? Well, here are my four objections to trim trails.

Trim trail


One. Trim trials take up a lot of space, and are intrusive. Whilst it is possible to have the whole course over a short distance, invariably that’s not the way they are used in public places. Perhaps it’s because like that it looks too much like its progenitor, the assault course. Whatever. A typical trim trial looks unattractive in the landscape and distributes that unattractiveness widely. Particularly galling are trim trail set-ups which go alongside a well-used country track or path – it means that those who use the path for other reasons are forced to look at the thing. Not fair. Continue reading Destroy all trim trails!

Voor! Farmers Golf

By Ruth D’Alessandro, The Wildlife Gardener The Wildlife Gardener has an uneasy relationship with traditional golf. A contretemps with an arrogant golfer challenging my Public Right of Way, stray golf balls in my veg patch and drivers of silver (why are they always silver?) Mercedes forever pulling out of the local golf club in front of me without looking do not endear me to the type of people who play it. And the game itself looks mind-numbingly tedious.

Boll and klomp

Boll and klomp

So it was refreshing to see a variation of the G-game offered for family fun at Tulley’s Farm in West Sussex: Farmers Golf or in its original Dutch, Boerengolf. Boerengolf was invented by a Dutch cheese farmer as a protest at expensive fees and the Netherlands’ GVB test for Dutch would-be golfers – a written and practical exam in etiquette, game rules and competence that they are required to pass before they’re even allowed to set foot on the green stuff. Continue reading Voor! Farmers Golf

See Snails? Tree Snails!

By Ruth D’Alessandro, The Wildlife Gardener The Wildlife Gardener has always fantasised about discovering a new species. I suspect that my discovery, should it ever happen, will be not be a new butterfly, moth or beetle but something like the 42nd species of woodlouse, or, if I’m really lucky, a tiny, obscure woodland snail. New species of snail do turn up periodically: the Cliveden snail (Papillifera papillaris) did exactly that in August 2008. As regular readers of Notes From A Wildlife Garden may remember, I then got all excited about a snail by our local mill pond that I’d never seen before. Thrillingly, the same snail expert, Janet Ridout-Sharpe who had verified the Cliveden snail kindly identified my mystery snail as… a fairly common Amber snail (Succinea putris). And I didn’t think about snails much until recently. A warm sunny day and we were walking through local chalk woodland on the North Downs Way. We noticed that several of the sycamore trees had large garden snails and banded snails on their trunks. Looking more closely, I noticed another, small (10-12mm) grey turret-shaped snail. Could this be the undiscovered cousin of the Cliveden snail?

Clausilia bidentata compared with Papillifera papillaris, the Cliveden snail

Clausilia bidentata compared with Papillifera papillaris, the Cliveden snail

Continue reading See Snails? Tree Snails!

The Telegraph confuses rare flowers with buttonholes

Oh deary deary. I’ve tried to hold off, really, I have. I’ve been stifling back a really moany post about newspapers’ punctuation and italicisation of scientific names. Really, it’s for my own good. It wouldn’t show me at my best. But while all my attention is on the errant capitals another one sneaks up in the Telegraph today – and this time it’s a corker.

Carnations story, The Telegraph

By Richard Alleyne, Science Correspondent: The summer mix of sunshine and rain has helped some of Britain’s rarest wild flowers make an unexpected return to the countryside, claims charity. Perfect weather conditions for plants in recent months have seen a number of the UK’s native species, including carnations and ferns, brought back from the brink of extinction.

Continue reading The Telegraph confuses rare flowers with buttonholes

Goldie Rocks and The Three Wildlife Gardeners

By Ruth D’Alessandro, The Wildlife Gardener La famille Wildlife Gardener likes a bit of culture, but it takes something rather different to drag us away from the hens to London. So when our lovely friend Victoria organised some tickets for the ‘Evolution’ Family Prom concert at the Royal Albert Hall on Sunday, we were intrigued and happy to jump on a no. 52 bus.


Junior Wildlife Gardener Number One burst into tears of anticipation at the prospect of David Attenborough appearing personally in the same room as her. Junior Wildlife Gardener Number Two was excited about hearing the theme from Jurassic Park. Mr Wildlife Gardener looked forward to hearing the loudest piece of orchestral music ever written: Hekla by Jon Leifs. And, as I’ve always had a bit of a thing about Goldie, the gilt-toothed drum’n’ bass DJ turned classical composer, I was eager to hear the world premiere of his Sine Tempore piece and maybe catch a glimpse of the man himself. Continue reading Goldie Rocks and The Three Wildlife Gardeners

A stroll by the beach

A few papers have picked up the latest development in Natural England’s mission to open up coastal access around England. Perhaps not surprisingly, news of the death of Bobby Robson and ‘blasphemous’ nudie photos in a church have taken a more prominent place in the headlines… but actually, this could be pretty important. Especially for the Isle of Wight and other English counties with long coastlines.

Coastal access on the Isle of Wight

Current coastal access on the Isle of Wight © Crown copyright

Natural England has now assessed existing coastal access, and published indicative maps showing what they think the situation is around England. This picture is an extract. So, what does it mean? Continue reading A stroll by the beach