Saturday, May 2, 2009


The first of May around here is a bit of an event. The holiday, known as May Morning, is described in some detail here. In short, at 6 am, the famous boy’s choir of Magdalen college sings in the bell tower of Magdalen to welcome in the spring. Some of the students stay up all night celebrating before going to listen to the choir, then there is a bit of dancing in the streets, they all have breakfast, and then everyone collapses. Others just wake up early to hear the choir.

Part of the tradition is that students try to jump off the Magdalen Bridge into the River Cherwell. Unfortunately, when the River is shallow this has resulted in a number of broken bones. So recently the police have closed the bridge on May Morning.

I probably should have woken up early to see the interesting events, but unfortunately, I had been out late the night before preparing to give the first Theoretical Physics Seminar of the spring (which was part of my official introduction to the theoretical physics sub-department – but was basically the same chalkboard presentation as here which I mentioned in an earlier post). The idea of waking up at 5am did not appeal, and I certainly did not want to be exhausted while trying to give a seminar. Maybe next year.

Nonetheless, I could not escape the coming of spring. When I came home on this sunny Friday afternoon, I discovered that flowers had sprung up in my backyard! Here are some of the pictures.

Since I don't really intend to spend much time or effort tending my garden, I suspect this is going to be the only year that they look so nice. Next year, I expect to have pretty flowers called weeds.

One of my friends from Bell recommended that if I really didn't want to deal with a garden, I could just sprinkle the whole area with Roundup , a powerful herbicide that will pretty much kill anything. Of course i'd love to keep the flowers... Hmmm.. I guess this is how people get snookered into spending long hours tending their gardens.


Carissa Aoki said...

Roundup will indeed kill all your plants. We applied it (selectively, we thought) to some dandelions last year, and quite a lot of the surrounding grass got killed also. Roundup is also manufactured by Monsanto, about whom I have less than warm and fuzzy feelings.

Maybe all your flowers are perennials that will more or less reproduce themselves from year to year. I'm pretty sure the effects of Roundup only last one season, so if you really killed your whole yard, then the next year you'd just have a yard full of weeds. If you leave the flowers in, and don't Roundup, then you'll at least have SOME flowers next year. (I'm trying to persuade you to become an English gardener!)

Steve said...

Another issue is that I am planning to be away most of the summer, so I'm half expecting to come back to a massive jungle (complete with gorillas and anamacondas). But if it doesn't get insanely overgrown, I might not do the roundup thing.

Oh, and I agree that Monsanto is probably on the top ten list of "most evil companies". Probably somewhere below KBR and the company that manufactures that toy for children called "bag of glass shards".