Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,975 (Sat 1 Apr)/Araucaria bank holiday jumbo – Flower power

Posted by rightback on April 10th, 2010


Solving time: 65 mins, 4 missing (DUNCIAD, CINERARIA, LEDUM, JONQUIL)

This was hard, and time constraints forced me to give up with four gaps although for a long time I thought it would be many more than that. The floral theme revealed itself quickly here from TREFOIL which was clued in the usual way. Some of the clues are very inventive but others are extremely stretched, and I thought the policy of unindicated homophones was taken a bit far.

There are various clues I don’t fully understand, particularly clue Z which I think might be ZINNIA (which appears homophonically in the grid as part of GLOXINIA (clue G) at 35dn).

Music of the day: nice to see one of John Peel’s favourites getting name-checked at 22ac; here’s Dance Girl Dance by Cinerama.

* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X’.

1 (M) MICHAELMAS DAISY; (SICILY AM ASHAMED)* – having guessed plants as the theme from clue T, this came straight away which helped a lot.
9 (V) VIOLA – I think this is a reference to the character from Twelfth Night who was shipwrecked. This was news to me, and I had to guess it from the theme and checking letters.
12 DUNCIAD; DUD around (I CAN)* – almost got there, I thought of ‘dud’ but not the anagram part and didn’t know the answer which is a work by Alexander Pope. My guess for this was the splendid ‘Dongior’, made up of DO (= ‘work’) + N.G. (= ‘no good’) + OR (= ‘otherwise’) around I. Nil points.
13 IN A CIRCLE; I + rev. of CAN + (RELIC)*
14,46 CUP TIE; P in CUTIE – had to work hard for this, despite having the P in place.
15 (F) FORGET-ME-NOT; FORGE-MEN around T[he], + O.T. – the ‘S’ here presumably refers to clue S for which the answer is STOCK, which is then a containment indicator, but this is rather contrived.
16 CLAUSTRAL; CLAUS + TRA-L[a] – Google helped me find this song from The Mikado by Gilbert and Sullivan.
17 ENROL; ENRO[n] + L – the answer was clear but it took me a long time to understand the wordplay, which refers to Enron.
18 (J) JONQUIL; “JOHN” + “QUILL” – I think the idea is that Johnson’s dad is John while a quill is an old writing implement, although this clue seems rather confused and verbose to me.
19 AMOROUS; A + MORO[n] + U.S.
22 (E) AMERICAN; (CINERAMA)* – referring to the film American Beauty. Clue E has to be interpreted as ‘E + RICA’ with ‘rica’ being the (feminine version of the) Spanish for ‘rich’ and ‘e’ the Spanish for ‘and’.
24 (B) BLUEBELL; BLUE (= ‘Down’) + “BELLE”
27 (N) NASTURTIUM; TURT[le] in [gym]NASIUM – I hate ‘A lot of doves’ = TURT[le] and love ‘extension to gym’ = NASIUM.
30 (Q/T) QUATREFOIL; (Q) “QUILL” around (FOR TEA)*; (T) TOIL around REF – I’d never have got this from clue Q but luckily clue T also contributed.
31 DIOGENES; D(I)OG + [hell]ENES – I couldn’t see ‘Hellenes’ when solving but guessed the answer, the philosopher known as The Cynic.
37 MILL + A + IS – referring to Flatford Mill, as painted by John Constable.
38 TALIPOT; (TOP + TAIL)* – excellent anagram.
40 INN + E.R. – not a very fair wordplay (The Queen’s Hotel). Apparently a ‘magpie’ is a hit on the penultimate outermost division of a target, so the ‘inner’ lies between that and the bull (bull’s-eye).
41 (K) KNIPHOFIA – fortunately I knew this word and spotted it from checking letters because I’d never have got it otherwise. The clue is derived from its alternative name, the red-hot poker.
44 (X) XERANTHEMUM; rev. of “MUCKS” around “E.R. ANTHEM” – clever wordplay.
47 (S) STOCKINGS; rev. of COTS, + KING’S (= ‘college’); (S) 2 defs – can’t see what purpose the question mark serves here.
48 TORONTO; RON in TOTO – ‘toto’ being (one case of) the Latin for ‘all’, as in the phrase in toto.
49 (W) WANDA; “WANDER” – this may be a reference to A Fish Called Wanda, or it could be something completely different.
50 REYNAUDS DISEASE; RE (= ‘about’) + (SUNDAY)*, + DIE around SEAS (i.e. ‘overseas’) – not the kindest wordplay but I happen to suffer from this so saw it immediately from the definition.
1 MODIFIED; M.O., + DID around FIE – this was incorrectly given as (8) in the online version.
2 (C) CINERARIA – a cinerarium is where ashes go after cremation, but I don’t really understand the clue; something biblical to do with the righteous having eternal life, perhaps? If that’s right, it seems weak. I guessed ‘contraria’ for this, having not heard of the plant. [Edit: As TimR points out in the comments, this sounds like "sinner area". I'd momentarily forgotten about the homophones when blogging this clue!]
3 ALICE BLUE; AL[l] + I, + rev. of BE in CLUE (= ‘this’) – very nearly got this but missed the ‘clue’ part, though I put it in as a desperate guess. For a long time I was sure it had to be ‘azure blue’.
4 (L) [tweed]LEDUM – great clue, I’ll take my defeat with good grace on this one depsite not knowing the answer word.
5 AVIGNON; ANON around (VI + G) – strangely this was the first ‘Bridgetown’ I thought of. This song is vaguely familiar, and here’s the bridge.
6 (D) DIANTHUS; DIN around A, + THUS
7 ISIACAL (hidden)
9 VIEWS (2 defs)
10 OSCAR ROMERO; O.S. (= outsize = ‘Large’) + CARRO[t] + (MORE)* – eventually dissected the wordplay here. The name rang only a slight bell, but the assassination in question was before I was born so I have some excuse!
11 APPAL; rev. of PA, + PAL
19 ALLOTMENT (2 defs)
20 (O) OX-EYE – which appears partially in a homophone of ‘carbon monoxide’, or CO. Outragreous.
21 SOL + ELY – lovely.
23 (A) A + RUM
25 ANADEM; (MAENAD)* – why a maenad would have one of these on her head is beyond me.
26 JUNO; “D’YOU KNOW” – nice!
29 (U) URENA; URE + NA (= sodium) – my periodic table knowledge wasn’t up to deciding between sodium and calcium as the 11th element, but I suspected I was getting confused with ‘urtica’ in thinking ‘ureca’ might be the answer so guessed correctly.
33 (I) IRISH ARMS; IRIS + HARMS – Iris (meaning ‘rainbow’) was the Greek messenger goddess, and God sent Noah a rainbow, all of which doesn’t quite seem to justify clue I. The rhyming definition in 33dn refers obliquely to the arms of Ireland.
34 MONOMANIA; (O + NO MAN) in rev. of AIM – no man is an island, said John Donne, except of course for the Isle of Man.
35 (G/Z?) GLOXINIA; rev. of NIX in GLO[r]IA – very difficult. It really is about time ‘take’ = R (recipe) was retired. I considered ‘take’ = ‘annex’, doxology = ‘annex’ and various other possibilities before finally solving this.
36 (P/R) (P) RIM in PROSE; (R) straight definition
38 TWANKEY; TWA (= ‘Scots two’) + -NKEY – I can only think that the last bit of this clue refers to ‘monkey’ and ‘donkey’. If that’s right, it’s bizarre.
39 PERUSED; PERU’S ED (= ‘Journalist of South America’) – I dislike these indirect definitions (‘sounds red’ = “READ”).
41 KOTOW; K.O. + TOW
42 (H) HOSTA; HOST (= ‘army’) + A (= ‘leader’)
43 FLOOR (2 defS) – as in wipe the floor.
45 NOTED; rev. of DE + TON

35 Responses to “Guardian 24,975 (Sat 1 Apr)/Araucaria bank holiday jumbo – Flower power”

  1. TimR says:

    Thanks for great blog. 2dn – sounds like “sinner-area”

  2. TimR says:

    49ac yes I agree it is a fish called Wanda and Wanda is also a type of Primula.

  3. TimR says:

    oh and a typo in your comment on 33dn: 33dn not 34dn

  4. molonglo says:

    Thanks rightback. I got in via the H clue, and found about half of this very pleasant; I got 50a for the same reason as you. The last third was a real struggle and only possible with the help of references. The red hot poker took me a few days, with success at last from A few good clues like 10, 33 and 39 down but there were just too many weirdly and inadequately clued plants, like the G, J, L and Q ones, gettable but unsatisfying. I never found the Z clue.

  5. rightback says:

    Thanks TimR – now corrected above. Any more will have to wait until Monday – have a good weekend all.

  6. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Rightback, but I hated it!

    I started off on the wrong foot when the PDF printed out so small that I could hardly read it. Who else remembers the days when the Jumbo puzzles could be printed over 2 pages?

    When I eventually spotted the theme I realised that, not knowing much about flowers, I was completely out of my depth.

    I realise that I could have resorted to various help facilities but I prefer to do puzzles offline and without any aids. This is not always possible these days and I don’t object to a few obscurities but really this was too much!

  7. Bryan says:


    I couldn’t find your blog for the Alphabetical Clues – not even at Leftback or in the Penalty Area – but, not to worry, The Grauniad has provided Annotated Solutions and, amazingly, these are even readable!

  8. Bryan says:

    Here they are:


    A arum A/RUM
    B bluebell BLUE/BELL(e)(part hom)
    C cineraria sinner area (hom)
    D dianthus DIN/THUS
    E* erica E/RICA [Spanish for 'rich'; in 22 ac]
    F forget-me-not FORGE<T(he)-MEN/OT [Smiths=forge-men; =stock]
    G gloxinia GLO(r)IA
    H hosta HOST/A(rmy)
    I* iris God sent Noah a rainbow as a sign [in 33 dn]
    J jonquil John (ie Johnson’s dad) quill (hom)
    K kniphofia red-hot poker
    L ledum (tweed)LEDUM
    M Michaelmas daisy SICILY AM ASHAMED (anag)
    N nasturtium (gym)NASIUM
    O ox-eye part of carbon monoxide (hom) [symbol CO]
    P primrose PROSE
    Q quatrefoil QUIL(l)(part hom)
    R* rose cryptic def [in P]
    S* stock double def [in 47 ac]
    T* trefoil TOIL [in 30 ac]
    U urena URE/NA [NA=sodium, atomic number 11]
    V viola Twelfth Night
    W wanda wander (hom) [A Fish Called Wanda could not drown]
    X xeranthemum MUX(part hom)
    Y yucca yuck (hom)
    Z zinnia sin here (hom) [C=sinner area; in G as hom]

  9. Bryan says:

    Aha, I now see that you re-numbered the solutions to incorporate the Alphas.

    I demand a Penalty Shoot Out!

  10. Biggles A says:

    I completed the grid eventually but, even guessing it was zinnia, could find nowhere to accommodate the Z clue. I still think it is just too obscure. I couldn’t find a rational explanation for 15 either although it was my first entry. Thanks for the enlightenment Rightback. I didn’t like 49; I could only find reference to a sort of rose but I am sure you could find a rose variety that is called after pretty well anything.

  11. Jack says:


    I think 50ac is spelt Raynaud’s Disease – hence the wordplay:

    Artist (RA) on Sunday arranged etc.

  12. cholecyst says:

    Thanks Rightback. I did not find this too difficult, mainly because I know a lot of flower names and I made many lucky guesses and then fathomed the word-play later. Also, it seemed easier than usual to fit the alphabeticals into the grid. Most enjoyable.

  13. Eileen says:

    Thanks, rightback.

    I agree that it was easier than usual to fit the alphabeticals and MICHAELMAS DAISY was a very straightforward key to the theme.

    I found the whole puzzle really absorbing and enjoyable – just the thing for the Bank Holiday, with lots of smiles and pdms. [I loved CINERARIA, to name but one.]

    31ac was a superb clue, I thought: ‘cynic’ does come from ‘dog’ [Greek 'kynikos', 'dog-like] – Diogenes was known as ‘the Dog’, as the Wiki article goes on to say – plus the references to ‘setter’ and then the Greeks. Lovely.

    [It worked again: Audreus yesterday did herald Shed today!]

  14. sidey says:

    Zinnia is a homophone of the xinia in G[loxinia]. I suspect the ‘Use C in’ is a homophone for ‘Use “see in” G’. No, still doesn’t work.

    The thing with “The Master” when he’s being clever-clever is that it is perfectly possible to be able to correctly complete the grid without understanding half the clues.

  15. TimR says:

    Sidey, is it just “use c” -> “you see”? But then we don’t see we hear…..

  16. Davy says:

    Thanks rightback,

    In contrast to #12, it took me six days to finish this and I also managed to miss the Z clue completely. It’s the first BH Araucaria that I’ve ever managed to complete so I’m pretty pleased. I didn’t understand LEDUM and wouldn’t have spotted the missing river (TWEED) but there again there were one or two others that I didn’t understand either.

    Thanks to Araucaria for his never ending fun and entertainmant. Good health to you Sir.

  17. Tokyo Colin says:

    After the encouragement I received last week I had a go at this and was surprised to fill the grid fairly quickly. My mother is a gardening “tragic” and so I grew up hearing and seeing flower names which helped. But putting letters in all the spaces was only part of the story. Although I have been doing cryptics off and on for 35 years I felt like a beginner on this one. I had already deciphered and placed 7-8 of the flowers when I noticed that the first letters of all but one corresponded to the letter next to its clue. Then the penny dropped and I realised I had one wrong and this was going to be a lot easier than I thought. Did everyone else know this in advance, and if so how? With other Prize puzzles where the clues have to be inserted “wherever they will go”, does the same rule apply?

    When I found myself with half a dozen flowers left over I thought they were just “leftovers”. I completely missed the requirement to find those within other solutions. I had read the words in the instructions but didn’t grasp what it meant.

    And although I got all the answers right I was puzzled about several of them, including 35D and 42D. Thank you all for clearing that up. And I rather like Z now that TimR has explained it.

  18. Sil van den Hoek says:

    To be very clear: this was undoubtedly a real tour de force of Araucaria.
    Two crosswords in one, a theme, a recurring device [homophone] – a treat!

    And did I like it?
    Well, that’s another matter.
    Yes, I completed it, but without (fully) understanding 8 clues, among which 6 alphabeticals.
    8 out of 61 is a bit too much, to be satisfied with the final result.
    But thanks to the blog [which must have been a tour de force, too], I feel more comfortable now.

    I am not a Gardener, and therefore I was unfamiliar with about half of A-Y clues.
    Had to look in Books & Online Services too much anyway: in total, for about 30% of the clues.
    That was pulling me away from the ultimate fun of solving.

    More than in ‘normal’ alphabeticals, I had the feeling to solve two puzzles in one.
    One was a cryptic crossword, the other was a jigsaw puzzle [a thing that people normally do when they’re under 10 or above 65, say].
    Unfortunately, the jigsaw bit (including these half-clues and some dodgy homophones) overruled the enjoyment that I normally experience when solving a cryptic crossword.

    So, did I like it?
    As one might guess, not particularly.

    Of course, the challenge was huge as always with Araucaria.
    And there were a lot of splendid clues (12ac, 31ac, 38ac, 3d, 26d, 34d, to name a few), although I was less enthusiastic about many of the alphabetical ones like K and Y [YUCCA a hom. of 'yuck', according to the Guardian's own annotated solutions?]
    But in the end I found it all a bit top-heavy, as if Araucaria wanted too much in this puzzle.

    Finally, Z.
    The preamble says clearly that some solutions appear hidden in other solutions. As there is no Z in the puzzle whatsoever, ZINNIA can’t be hidden in another solution.
    Of course, I [now] see what Araucaria means: ‘Use C’ = “Use sinner area” [using the hom.?] = “sin here” = ZINNIA [hom], which is a hom. inside G. Hurrah!!
    Bit nonsense, isn’t it?
    [but one has to do sómething when there's no place for a Z in the grid]

    [maybe I should have gone to Scotsdales Garden Centre first on Sunday afternoon, before finishing the crossword … :) ]

    Even so, I’d like to repeat: this was undoubtedly a real tour de force of Araucaria.

  19. cholecyst says:

    Well said,Sil. You seem to be the first to refer to the preamble, which, if understood it correctly, was designed to pre-empt virtually all criticism (apart from matters of fact).

  20. Tokyo Colin says:

    Re Z: Even after reading the “official” annotated solution which stretches the meaning of homophone to place Zinnia in Cineraria somehow, I still think “You see” in G(loxinia) is a better interpretation!

    And no-one else has mentioned the “left field” in the preamble. That helped me twig to the flower theme.

  21. Bill Taylor says:

    This was a great crossword — hard, yes, but what a workout. It took me two full days to finish it. Several “ah-hah!” moments, including 40a, which I thought was quite clever; and, rather sheepishly, 48a, which I should have figured out more quickly because it’s where I live!

    Right now, I’m about halfway through Shed’s prize crossword which, while a lot better than his mom’s effort yesterday, isn’t a patch on Araucaria. As I said earlier this week, “Flower Power” is a classic example of why he still deserves to be called the Master. What a wonderful mind the man has.

  22. John Dean says:

    Colin 17
    Yes, the alphabetical clues give you, by default, the initial letter of each answer. I did my first alphabetical some time ago without, initially, knowing this. Perhaps there used to be an indicator back in the mists of time but it seems to be assumed now that all solvers know about it (or at least will twig quicker than I did first time).

  23. Neil says:

    I can tell the difference between grass and trees but anything in between is pretty hazy; so I had to look up a few things. I started and finished on the Sunday, including the ridiculous ZINNIA and where it was supposed to sit. But, Araucaria fan though I may be, I felt there was just too much ridiculousness in this one, rather spoiling the undoubted cleverness. I had the feeling the setter was too busy entertaining himself at the expense of entertaining me, so no great joy in the completed solution.

  24. Bill Taylor says:

    I won’t disagree with your summation, Neil, though I did get great joy out of solving this one, but I will suggest that without entertaining him/herself, a setter can hardly expect to entertain his/her public. And I fear that is the case with some Guardian setters — there doesn’t seem to be much joy involved for anyone. Compiling a crossword shouldn’t be a chore; nor should solving it.

  25. TimR says:

    Sil 18
    Great analysis.
    I think YUCCA is a homophone of “yucker”, one who says “yuck”

  26. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Rightback. I got the theme to this early with MICHAELMAS DAISY and it was obvious where it had to go, which helped a lot. Some very nice clues here and some well and truly ‘left field’ ones!

    Overall my reaction was similar to Sil’s — I admired the puzzle more than I ended up enjoying it. Partly this was because I had to rely more on aids than usual, to get CINERARIA for example (although I thought that was pretty funny once the penny dropped!) I’m also not a huge fan of homophones. But the main reason was the Z clue. I thought it had to be ZINNIA but found it a bit of a let-down that it wasn’t really placed anywhere — and I still find the explanations of the wordplay at bit baffling!

    I love Araubeticals, though, and not so long ago I was one of those hoping for more of them, so I probably shouldn’t complain!

  27. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Well, TimR, I’m not sure if it (#18) was a general analysis of this crossword, more just my own feelings and what the puzzle ‘did’ to me while solving.

    Re YUCCA, you are surely right [the ever so great rightback did mention it, too], but I was referring to the Guardian’s own annotated solutions [see Bryan, #8].
    Araucaria sometimes makes himself the subject of the clue [taking the place of the solution], so here “I say I’m nauseated” with ‘I’ being the ‘yucker’ [IMHO, the 'I say' is even more or less superfluous, but OK].

    And Colin (#20), re Z (again), I was thinking of that myself ['You see in G']. The only thing is, I don’t séé it in G [which according to the preamble should have been so].
    I thought, maybe it was like in the past ‘civilised people’ talked to natives: ‘You seeing?’ ['No, me no seeing Z'] :)

  28. Mr Beaver says:

    I wondered if the bit in the preamble about the undefined answers being ‘left field’ was a sly dig at those (mentioning no names) who criticise him for being too unorthodox ?
    When I first read it, I though ‘Yes, I bet there are some ‘left-field’ answers here!’, but in the end I thought nearly all the clues were very fair once you’d got the hang of the theme.
    Anyway, it shows the Araucarian brain has lost none of its powers, surely a matter for rejoicing throughout the land…

  29. Davy says:

    Yes Mr Beaver, I agree with you 100%. Who else is capable of producing such a complicated and interesting crossword. No-one I would suggest and though Araucaria has his mass of detractors, I still maintain that only he can be described as a true master. Isn’t it interesting that John G may be superceded by John H !. I can’t wait for John I.

  30. Daniel Miller says:

    I normally swerve the Prize ones – except the Bank Holiday ones and I have to say this one was great fun. It took some time for me to get going but, with some thought, I eventually latched on to the flower/plant theme.. Pretty much got it all right (after a lot of effort and, in order to keep going, some help here and there on around about 8 answers.. (which I wouldn’t normally resort to on a basic midweek crossword.)

    One or two of the answers were unfamiliar – I think, from memory, I got it correct bar two but could someone remind me what the clue for “Juno” (‘Do you know’) was, please.

    For “Solecism” – I believe I went for Catecism (with no H – I was under the impression the clue allowed a homonym for some reason!) with explains my error on Juno (I don’t recall) – Still very enjoyable..

  31. Mr Beaver says:

    Daniel – it was “Say, are you acquainted with
    a goddess? (4)” (see – excellent!

  32. rrc says:

    Locating the alphabetical clues was a lot easier on this crossword once I Realised the numbered clues with no clues as it were were the aphabetical answers
    Michalmas Daisy was a nice answer to start off and gave the theme away very early. Very sneaky to have some plants in already existing answers which I didnt really understand till the grid was complete. Nevertheless it was by the end of Saturday which for a bumper was amazing. Great fun

  33. jmac says:

    Could only fill in LEDUM, KNIPHOFIA, and GLOXINIA by looking them up (cheating really), and failed on Z. Thanks Rightback for explaining these. I don’t normally like the completely jigsaw element of Araubeticals so this hybrid puzzle suited me better. Whilst solving thought CINERARIA the pick, but after Rightback’s blog, i think LEDUM runs it close.

  34. Daniel Miller says:

    #31 Thank you Mr Beaver – It all makes perfect sense now. A great clue I didn’t suss out.. one of those “dammit” moments! :)

  35. Richard Saunders says:

    Thanks everyone for explaining everything. Some of it was beyond me. (ZINNIA sounds like SIN HERE? I don’t think so!) Still, a remarkable achievement.

    26D (JUNO) reminds me that a way to remember the state capital of Alaska is
    “Ah’l ask her, JUNEAU the capital?” Groans all round.

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