Flying Twigs Black Friday Deal


Flying Twigs Black Friday Deal

All greeting cards reduced by 20% with code 5VV3XEGG

For example – buy four greeting cards with the deal for £1.92×4 = £7.68 and free postage.

UK delivery addresses only

Grab a deal by Friday, 26 November.

Click here to be taken to Flying Twigs online shop.

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Pink Torch Ginger Lily


This is from one of the greenhouses at the Botanic Garden. It’s the flower of the Pink Torch Ginger Lily – Etlingera Elatior. When I googled Ginger Lily just now it showed flowers that looked like this. It also showed flowers that reminded me of those I photographed outdoors at the Botanic Garden earlier this year.

You can see the article where I wrote about the Hedychium under the title Hedychium – Butterfly Ginger Lily.

Both are in the Zingiberaceae family of gingers and turmeric, so they are related rather than just coincidentally tasting of ginger.

But to get back to the photo at the top of the flower in the hothouse, it is pretty amazing, isn’t it. Are those yellow edges directing insects where to go to get the good stuff?

Hedychium species - flower and leaves

Cedric The Crocodile


I remember the cedar tree that stood on this spot. As it says in the notice that the woman with the hat is reading, the tree started to fail in 2020 and had to be felled. I was sad to see it go, but now we have Cedric.

This is what the notice that the woman is reading says.

Cedric was created from a section of trunk from the old Cedar tree (Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca’) that used to stand in this very spot.

Cedrus atlantica is a coniferous evergreen tree which grows naturally in the mountains of Morocco and Algeria. The species is endangered and under threat from logging, fire and goat grazing. Unfortunately, one in three tree species are threatened with extinction globally.

The tree that was used to make this crocodile was one of the oldest trees in the Garden. Sadly, when the tree started to fail in 2020, it needed to be removed. Another tree of this species can be found growing on the Main Walk, currently 10m tall and 16 years old.

The wood from the tree has been resurrected in crocodile form by local artist Lisa Langley from Cambridge Chainsaw Carving.

During our 175th anniversary celebrations, we asked staff and visitors to suggest names for our crocodile and Cedric came out tops. We are thrilled with our new addition which will be moved to its permanent home in the Dell in due course.

I have passed Cedric many times and never went to look closer. I was there for ‘Nature’ and not for a sculpture! Then it so happened that I was sitting on a bench looking towards Cedric, still not interested to see him closer or at all. I was interested in stopping a moment to see the Garden from a different angle, to look past the two thin larches, and over to the pines on the right in the distance.

Then these people turned up and I could feel the push and pull as my interest in the crocodile was piqued. And then I though how silly it was of me to deny that my interest was piqued, and how standoffish and superior I was being just because I was a real nature lover, not just a casual visitor. So now I know about Cedric, and being of very slow wits I am only now seeing the Cedar-Cedric connection in the name.

Carya Laciniosa

Carya laciniosa

Kew Gardens in London covers 300 acres (120 hectares), and it’s home to a huge number of tree species. This tree caught my eye because it was just shimmering with golden leaves in the sun.

What I didn’t do was catch the name of the tree. Name tags are usually pinned to the trunk, or sometimes hanging from a branch.

So I emailed Kew and told them where I had seen the tree. I said that the leaf arrangement looked somewhat like a Horse chestnut or a Buckeye, which are Aesculus species.

The answer came back that it is in the walnut family (Juglandaceae) and they identified it as Carya laciniosa, which has a similar leaf arrangement to Horse chestnuts.

According to Wikipedia, it’s an American native, with a range that extends from the Great Lakes south to about the latitude of Washington D.C. And it has many names – shagbark hickory, bigleaf shagbark hickory, kingnut, big shellbark, bottom shellbark, thick shellbark, or western shellbark.

Some of the photos of the bark online make it clear which it is called a shagbark, with great vertical strips hanging off. No idea why it is also called a shellbark, though.

The Strange Story Of Fig Fertilisation

Not everything needs to be fertilised in order to make fruiting bodies. Figs – at least the kind that we eat – are parthenocarpic, meaning they can product fruit without fertilisation.


Fig leaves
Fig leaves

If a plant has the right genetic structure, as with figs, then breeders can raise plants that do not need to be fertilised. 

Some other plants that are raised to produce seeds, nuts, drupes, berries, or whatever without fertilisation are bananas, pineapples, cucumbers, tomatoes, oranges, grapes, kiwis, blackberries, and peppers. 

Fig Fertilisation

Figs that are fertilised have a specific companion, the Fig wasp. And the story of the fertilisation is very different from the normal story of buzzing bees and insects.. 

Figs and their companion wasp have been around for a long time – 90 million years – with the two made for each other.

The flowers of the fig are encased in a bulb-like stem. A female wasp burrows into the flowers via a hole at the top of the stem. She carries with her the pollen she collected from another fig tree earlier in her life cycle. Once inside and in among the tightly bundled flowers, she lays her eggs there and then dies.

When the eggs hatch, they eat the flowers, grow to adulthood and mate. Then the wingless males burrow to the surface and die there. The females emerge via the escape routes the males have made, and fly off to pollinate other figs.

Now for the killer fact. That bulb-like system that encases the flowers – that’s the fig that we know and eat. Except as I said, the ones we normally eat are bred to produce figs without being fertilised.

It’s strange to think that the flowers of the fig never see the light of day. Their whole existence is inside the covering that we know as the skin of a fig.