13 May 2011

Science with Peter

From the mists of time
(mist courtesy of the new polytunnel)

In the walled garden at Marsh Hall the potatoes are coming along. Peter is earthing them up with a rather fancy hoe brought from home. The ridges are so perpendicular they are almost 'exhibition style', which may well have been a requirement from the head gardener here at one time. In this latter-day setting, the regimented rows have the effect of pulling the whole place together.

Peter comes over with part of an old clay pipe. It is small and decorated and well, nothing special in an old garden... Peter is a doctor of science I should say and has a rare skill of disguising proper scientific information as trivia. A good way to interest the lay person who is utterly resistant to science: I feel some archeology coming on.

Next he produces a fossil of a sea shell. That's nice. Hang on - a what?
The pipe is a piece of typical debris from 150 years ago but the shell is from 150 MILLION years ago, and we are in the middle of the Midlands, in the most landlocked part of England. 'Oh yes,' he says airily. 'This was all under the sea, which is why we're digging into pebble beds over there.'

More Science with Peter next week.

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