T.E. Brown in the Garden

Luxuriating in his suburban idyll, Nige considers the blackbird, and an effusive Victorian poet... There are sometimes nights when the sun is out, the air is warm, and one is able to enjoy that supreme expression of the suburban idyll - sitting out in the garden in the cool of the evening as ... Read More...

The Habit of Return

What do the unsettling and astonishing multi-generational migratory habits of the monarch butterfly tell us about humans?... The multiple life stages of butterflies were strangely upsetting to me as a boy. Their transformations were supposed to inspire wonder, and the eruption of the adult butterfly from the pupa, I was told, ... Read More...

On Birds’ Nests

Today's poetry and painting piece features Edward Thomas, Paul Nash, W.H. Davies and birds' nests... In addition to their intrinsic beauty, the bare trees of late winter and early spring offer an opportunity for the discovery of birds' nests.  This thought brings to mind Edward Thomas, who was a great searcher ... Read More...

Slow Botany

You will be familiar with the slow food movement, particularly if you are a Guardian reader living in an ecotown. Less high profile, but more amenable to the Dabbler demographic, is slow botany. So I am going to tell you all about it... Slow botany developed as a reaction against all ... Read More...

The Foggy Lane

Spring is coming - time to keep your eyes on the ground, suggests Stephen in this week's Dabbler Verse feature... There is something to be said for winnowing, for paring down.  The culture around us encourages short attention spans and hyperactive grasping after chimeras. Don't get me wrong:  I am in ... Read More...

Marianne North – Globetrotting Flower-painter

Nige pays tribute to the extraordinary Victorian spinster, globetrotter, botanist, artist and 'very wild bird', Marianne North... Tomorrow marks the birthday of the brilliant flower painter and tireless traveller Marianne North (born 1830), who, even by the standards of intrepid, globetrotting Victorian spinsters, was pretty extraordinary. In an age before jet ... Read More...

Prostitution Among Animals

The world's oldest profession might be even older than we previously thought, according to this strange Wikipedia article unearthed by the Wikiworm... A few studies have been used to promote the idea that prostitution exists within certain animal groups. Prostitution in animals was first reported in 1998 by Fiona Hunter, a researcher at the University of ... Read More...