Big boost for fynbos protection!

Wonderful news: the WWF just announced that the size of the original Cape Floristic Region Protected Areas (CFRPA) World Heritage Site has been doubled! Read all about it here: Then get thee to Cape Town and go for a walk in the flowers.

Is Monsanto the Big Bad?

We all play the blame game. When we look for someone to pin our fears on, we invest them with power and they get bigger and badder in our minds. Bullies make easy targets – they are big and bad by definition. And, if critics are to be believed, Monsanto is the biggest, baddest bully […]

“Feijoada Food Coma”

Just found this great article in the NY Times on the glorious Brazilian soul food tradition, feijoada. (Which features prominently in The Seed Thief, of course.) It is mouth-wateringly, beautifully described here by Francis Lam. I make this dish often in summertime, although I tend to use chorizo suasage predominantly, and forgo the pigs trotters […]

A new person falls in love with Kirstenbosch …

Came across this lovely account of a French woman discovering Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens for the first time. Well done Kirstenbosch for being awared top position in the  2015 International Garden Tourism Awards. Relevance to The Seed Thief? It’s where it all begins … Some great pics here too.

vavilov and corn

Corn Conversations

Plant Geneticist Nikolay Vavilov was a hero. Because biodiversity was his thing, he wrote extensively about the importance of having different plant varieties side by side so that they could ‘talk’ to one another, thereby promoting species diversity. He particularly loved corn. Vavilov makes quite a few appearances in The Seed Thief. (The protagonist’s dog […]

Songs of Slavery

So, I’ve said a lot here about seeds and bees and ecology. But there’s another equally important strand to the Seed Thief story, and that is Candomblé. The second part of the book takes place almost entirely in a terreiro, or place of worship for pracitioners of Candomblé, the Afro-Brazilian spiritual practice created by the […]

The Botany of Desire – in moving pictures!

I drew on Michael Pollan’s inspiring ‘The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World’ quite a bit while I was doing research for The Seed Thief, and so I was delighted to find this link to the two hour long PBS special feature on it: Apart from anything else, it will also […]

To bee or not to be …

So what’s the relevance to The Seed Thief? Besides the fact that, without bees, there pretty much wouldn’t be seeds to write about (or to star in book titles)? Well, there is actually a fair amount of riffing on bees in the story. Maddy (the protagonist and narrator) is a botanist, and one of her […]

scadoxus multiflorus does a dance..

I’m busy editing my mansucript (yes, still!) and got to the part where Maddy gives a talk at the terreiro and tells about the blood lily, or scadoxus muliflorus, which (according to my research at Kirstenbosch last year) Zulu warriors traditionally used before battle to make them more potent … I flipped online for a […]