Gather ye rosebuds, &c. - endangered species

Now, money couldn't buy you one of these, even from those big Italian nurseries that supply instant gardens to the Chelsea Flower Show and the like. This is the gi-mung-ous Cornus on the Blackrock Road, its beauty somewhat impaired by whatever cheese sandwich &c. got hold of my camera before I did this morning.

There seemed to be a lot of building going on next door and just around the corner, and I hope no-one accidentally drives a great digger into that fine specimen, which must have been one of the earliest into Ireland.

The New World digger that has driven into Europe's wine business seems to be tearing it up by its roots. Hardly a day goes by without my receiving at least two or three e-mails from winemakers in France barely able to conceal their desperation. If Decanter's version is anything to go by, we'll have to brace ourselves for some emotional exchanges ahead with our suppliers in the Languedoc, and no doubt elsewhere too. Though of course Australia's drowning in wine too. It's not exactly easy for anyone. One solution for all this surplus wine is to find new drinkers. China is a possibility, apparently, with an emergent middle class keen to impress its neighbours - with globally recognised brands, of course.

Last night's television documentary on China, which concentrated on the country's water resources and the effects thereon of pollution and environmental change, was sobering viewing. If you want to stay alive there, it's probably a good idea to stick to the wine, if you can afford it: the water's mostly not fit. The Yangtze River dolphin, unfortunately, doesn't have much choice.

I hope we don't end up keeping a few Languedoc producers going in a fenced compound somewhere, the last of their line. Speaking of fenced compounds, here's the picture I promised of the varicose udders of the Marquee we keep being exhorted to live at. Draughty, I should think. Call in and see us if you're in the vicinity.