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'Blwyddyn Newydd Dda' is Happy New Year in which language?


Vintage Christine Lovatt #2


By Christine Lovatt

Hello YouPlayers,

People often ask me what sort of magazines I like to read when I’m not crosswording. I find it hard to go past a good gardening magazine – especially when the cover has displays of my favourite trees and flowers. I find crossword puzzlers and keen gardeners are often one and the same.

In our crosswords, we have a wealth of horticultural references as clues, from flowers, shrubs and gardening tools to geographical or geological terms. Which means that gardeners have a distinct advantage when it comes to solving clues such as: ‘Wooden gardening basket’ (TRUG) or ’Other name for windflower’ (ANEMONE).

We don’t believe in being too cruel, and since we don’t know the Latin names for plants, we don’t expect you to either – except maybe for our really hard crosswords, such as The Stinker.

I find the names and meanings of flowers fascinating. In my grandparents’ era, parents named their daughters after flowers: Violet, Holly, Rose, Daisy, Lily and Iris to name a few. In the 80s, following the age of flower power, names connected with nature became popular: Rainbow, Skye, Moon, Willow, Sunshine and Brooke.

Gwyneth Paltrow may have started a new trend by calling her daughter Apple. Bob Geldof already has a daughter called Peaches. Will we have a spate of girls with fruity names? Quince, Mango or Plum, maybe.

And what about boys? Ash and Rowan are already boys named after trees. Birch or Oak sound quite manly and Baobab would certainly be memorable!

Flowers have a language of their own and traditionally each flower represents a special sentiment. In the past, courting sweethearts could convey messages of love by gifts of posies.

Red roses mean passion, violets are modesty, lilies for beauty – but beware of larkspurs, which stand for fickleness or petunias, which mean resentment.

The Monkey Puzzle tree, also known as the Chilean Pine, is a large, bizarre-looking evergreen. It was named after a comment made in the 1800s by an Englishman who thought that, because of its strange shape, the tree would be a puzzle for a monkey to climb. (He may not have realised that there weren’t any native monkeys in Chile.)

So when you’ve finished planting, watering and weeding, sit down, rest your body and exercise your mind instead with a crossword or two

You can also listen to my How to Solve Cryptic Crosswords tutorial here.

Happy puzzling!

Christine Lovatt


4 Responses to

Vintage Christine Lovatt #2

October 11, 2010 at 6:08 PM

What is the point of commenting if you don't add it to the responses section. I just wrote a letter sent it, and it has disappeared.

October 11, 2010 at 6:13 PM

This is positively embarrassing. I wrote a beautifully complimentary letter to you which went into the ether. Then I winged, thinking the staff would pick it up, and it went through. The major point I made, other than the fact that I have always been addicted to your puzzles, Christine, and till lately, used to buy your books. As a pensioner, I appreciate this site all the more. I alternate housework, gardening, dog walking, with puzzling. Very handy. The other thing I wrote was that I still feel that you should put your instructions for cryptic puzzles on the top bar of the front page. I have told several people over time to go to your personal site for the instructions. For some reason they did not know you have them, or even that you have additonal puzzles on that site. Weird.

October 12, 2010 at 9:01 AM

When I was much younger, my mother used to take us to Newstead Abbey (Nottinghamshire) and there was a monkey puzzle tree in the gardens there. I was always fascinated by it. None of my Australian friends have ever heard of it. Love crosswords - hate gardening! I'd rather read a good book!

maben said:
October 19, 2010 at 1:51 PM

hate gardening! <3 Ben Jays