Sunday, 8 February 2009
It's been a tough week trying to choose my dinner party guests since I announced this meme on Monday. My list has changed several times a day and at one point everyone's names began with a C and were likely to be a bit curmudgeonly. I nearly left it like that just to prove Alan Titchmarsh wrong, but decided on a different mix in the end.
My first guest is Charles Darwin - the man of the moment as his bicentenary is next week. His experiments and observations in his garden and greenhouse at Down House were central to the evidence he gathered over a period of 20 years for The Origin of the Species. Some of the techniques he developed are ones I've used in my own studies and I'd love to talk to him about the importance of his garden, daily walks and thinking time. Judging by a letter auctioned locally recently he could be a tad snippy, but I'm assuming the convivial company I've assembled here will put him in a good mood for us.
My second guest is a local man and photography pioneer William Henry Fox Talbot. Whilst delving into the archives at National Trust HQ, I've been reading a photocopy of the notes he made about his botanic garden at Lacock Abbey in the 1800s, fascinating stuff. I then checked the dates and realised he was doing all of this whilst working on his new process which gave us the world's first positive photographic image developed from a negative. Like me he had so many interests, but seemed to have time to fit them all in - I think any tips he could offer me on time management would be useful. I believe he and Charles Darwin would complement each other very well and I'm curious to know what he'd make of the National Trust's restoration of his botanic garden.
The magic of blogging means there's no language problems with my third guest Gregor Mendel, the father of genetics whose extensive study of peas in his monastery's garden helped him to formulate his ideas on heredity. I wonder what he'd think of today's plant breeding methods, particularly genetic modification. Would he agree the quest for a blue rose is worthwhile? I'd also like to ask him how long it took him to formulate his ideas from the data he'd amassed. I studied Nuffield Biology at school: this syllabus tended to give the original data the great and the good worked from and expected students to come up with the same answers via guided questioning along the way. At the age of 16, I just found this so hard, though of course it stood me in good stead for my later studies. Did he struggle like I did?
My final guest is Heather Angel. Her wildlife photography is magnificent, particularly of plants and fungi and features in many of the books in my collection. When I graduated from University, I applied to become her assistant, but got nowhere with my application. I don't want to berate her about that: I'd just like to hear the conversation she'd have with Fox Talbot about how photography has changed as well as picking up some hints and tips for my own. I wonder what she thinks of the digital medium?
Of course the food and drink I serve my guests will be plentiful, delicious and exactly what they'd like, just like the feasts are in Harry Potter. I did toy with the idea of inviting Christopher Lloyd along too, not only because his writing finally made me realise what gardening's all about, but also his cooking skills as evidenced in Dear Friend and Gardener and Gardener Cook were far superior to mine. However, I thought many of you might want to invite him to your dinner party, so I've left him for you to fight over.
Now it's over to you - I'm dying to see who you've invited. Do leave your name and the URL of your dinner party post in Mr Linky below (not your blog URL as this makes it slightly longer and more awkward to get around your posts), so we can all come along and drop in. That way we get to see all of our blogfriends too - yippee! Alternatively you can leave a comment here with your guest list, or email me (vegplotting at gmail dot com) and I'll make sure your list goes up on here. Don't worry if your party's late - Mr Linky and I will still be here and I'll be along shortly to say hello to you and your guests :D
Just before I go, I'd like to thank everyone who's helped with publicity this week - particularly Arabella, Shirl, Anna (Flower Garden Girl) and Karen - you've been wonderful. Shirl in particular needs double thanks as she's been really helpful behind the scenes with hints, tips plus lessons learnt from her recent Desert Island Challenge.