"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." attributed to Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." attributed to Edmund Burke

Let's between us make the world a better place.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Winston Churchill's Swimming Pool

 Winston Churchill designed and built this outdoor heated swimming pool at his country home Chartwell, along with the lakes in the distance, on which swam his famous black swans. There are still two black swans there today, along with various ornamental ducks and a flock of geese(although I am not sure which sort).

The rubbishy looking debris in the foreground is in fact the remains of last year's Gunnera leaves protecting the root stocks from winter frosts. Soon new leaves will appear and the plant will grow up to 2 meters or so tall by the end of the summer, dying right back again in the winter! An incredible rate of growth!They are often called Giant Rhubarb because of the leaf shape but have nothing to do with that "fruit" found in all self respecting vegetable plots and allotments.
Many find it hard to believe that so much foliage grows to such a height each year only to die back in the winter!

Wikipedia tells us that "in nature, all Gunnera plants form a symbiosis (i.e. both parties benefit from the relationship, unlike a parasitic set up where one organism feeds off the other) with a nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria... The bacteria enter the plant via glands found at the base of each leaf stalk and initiate an intracellular symbiosis which is thought to provide the plant with fixed nitrogen in return for fixed carbon for the bacterium." That is an unusual symbiosis for a herbaceous flowering plant.

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