A small patch of lawn

As I have written elsewhere, Charles Darwin was a great one for strange, little experiments. Here's a description of a nice one from when he was investigating the distribution of plants:

Charles Darwin to Joseph Dalton Hooker, 26th July, 1856

… I have let 3 x 4 sqe feet [*] of old Lawn grow up, & 18 plants in 17 genera have flowered during this summer. Exactly same numbers as in whole Keeling Islands, though so many miles in length!—

I was delighted to learn that an experiment very similar to the one described by Darwin is being carried out by Patrick Roper, a consultant ecologist from Sedlescombe, East Sussex, England. Patrick began his experiment in September, 2003, and is recording developments as they happen on the experiment's weblog, The square metre at TQ7828618846. Patrick has a number of similar weblogs, including one about his Windowbox Wildlife and his Ramblings of a Naturalist.

Great stuff! If only Darwin had been able to keep a weblog. But he wrote an awful lot of letters, which is pretty close.

[*] Footnote: The dimensions of Darwin's lawn experiment are given as 3 x 4 square feet in the published (book) version of The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, whereas the online version linked to above gives the area as 34 square feet. I have little doubt the latter is a typo.

Richard Carter, FCD

Writer and photographer Richard Carter, FCD is the founder of the Friends of Charles Darwin. He lives in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire.WebsiteNewsletterMastodonetc…

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