downy mildew

My poetry group - Nevada Street Poets - has been given an amazing opportunity to work with the poet Don Paterson and The Whipple Museum of the History of Science in Cambridge this year.

The Museum is part of the Department of the History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge, and has a collection of over 6000 objects from orreries - a moving model of the motions of the Earth, Moon, and Sun - to astrolabes to early maps of the heavens.

The six of us have been commissioned to each write a poem about a specific object in this wonderful museum, and work with Don to turn it into a public reading/collection.

And mine is this delicate glass model of Bremia lactucae (downy mildew), a fungus that attacks lettuce crops; made in the 1930s.

The creator was one Dr Dillon Weston, a mycologist working for the Ministry of Fisheries. Instead of referring farmers to pictures of fungi, he created hand-made models of them using clear glass.

I am so pleased to have been given this as it is right up my street; even the name 'downy mildew' is beautiful but we only have two weeks to write our poems which is a slightly daunting feeling. It will be fascinating to see what comes of our project and I will keep you posted.


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