Talks

Over the last 40 years I have given illustrated talks (and after dinner speeches) to a wide range of societies and interest groups such as Women's Institutes, Probus, Gardening Clubs, U3A, Church Groups, Natural and Local History Societies. I bring specimens, photographs and books relating to the subject. I can speak from 20 to 75 minutes, to fit meeting times (day or evening) and have spoken to audiences ranging in size from 900 down to 1! I have a loud voice and a sense of humour. My media appearances include BBC Breakfast, Richard and Judy, The Flying Gardener and Castle in the Country. I prefer to limit my travel to a 50 mile radius from Sheffield (but try me) and my fee in 2017 is £80, 2018 is £85 (plus petrol at cost for talks outside Sheffield). 

I welcome requests from speaker finders.

Christmas and its Customs 

When was Jesus born? Who was Father Christmas? What links Christmas and holly, ivy, mistletoe, robins, candles, crackers, mince pies etc?  Copies of my book on Christmas available at a discount.

A Mushroom Miscellany

Based on my book of the same name. Mushrooms in art, literature, music, folklore, murder and medicine. How to identify and cook the best edible species. From dry rot to truffles; witches to Enid Blyton – wonderful stories.

A Plant Anthology (Stories about Wild and Garden Plants)

Based on my book Patrick’s Florilegium. A look at plants in medicine, folklore, poetry, history and industry. From making bombs to preventing strokes, from glass making to cancer treatment, from Portland Sago to Wordsworth. Copies of my book available at a discount.

In Praise of Trees

How did our native trees re-colonise after the Ice Age? A look at the many fascinating uses to which trees were put – from cradles to coffins. Woodland natural history plus the folklore of trees.

Hearts of Oak – the Oak in History, Legend and Natural History

From Dryads to Druids, Robin Hood to Birnam Wood; buildings, battleships, coopers and charcoal. Bats, beef steaks, cow wheat and celandines. Kate Moss and Spike Milligan – something for all.

The Medicinal Uses of Plants

Ancient and modern medicinal uses of plants such as foxglove, cannabis and willow. A history of herbal medicine and a look at current drugs from plants such as yew, melilot and evening primrose


Northern Cyprus in Spring

Wonderful wild flowers, mountain walking, Roman sites, Crusader castles and blue skies - all in the less visited (and cheaper) Turkish part of Cyprus.

The Plant Hunters

The lives, travels and plants of the men who helped transform British gardens – the two John Tradescants, Joseph Banks, David Douglas, George Forrest and Ernest (Chinese) Wilson.

Wild Flowers of the Peak District

The talk shows why the Peak District is so important for plant life. It covers flowers from a range of different habitats in the dark and white peak. Profusely illustrated with slides of the flowers.

Wild and Garden Flowers on the Isles of Scilly

A glorious mix of flowers from the most south-westerly point in Britain. Wild flowers of many hues plus the wonderful Tresco Abbey Gardens and the unique landscapes of the Scillies.

Slovenia – Flowers, Forests, Lakes and Mountains

The greenest country in Europe and a paradise for walkers, flower-lovers and those who enjoy outdoor sports. Alpine flowers, hay meadows, forest streams, lakes and the wonderful capital city of Ljubljana.

Food for Free

A look at the many plants and fungi that can be safely eaten or made into interesting beverages. Starters, main course ideas and wonderful puddings, not forgetting the wine and coffee!

Easter and its Customs

A new talk including the Gospel accounts, the problems with predicting the dates of future Easter Sundays and where the origin of Easter eggs, hot cross buns, simnel cake, lamb and Easter bunnies come from. Plus a look at the links with Lent, lilies, passion flowers, pancakes and the true Mothering Sunday.