Nephila clavipes | Golden Silk Orb-weaver Spider

Large yellowish spider hanging from a web

Apologies to anyone who has a phobia of spiders – this isn’t the start of a series, I promise!

My sweetheart is scared enough of spiders to quiver and let out a loud, high-pitched squeal when he sees one. If a spider imprudently reveals itself indoors, I am called upon to relocate it using an upturned glass and piece of card.

Strangely, some spiders don’t give rise to that instinctive reaction. For instance, he’s developed a nodding acquaintance with a large spider that lives in a corner of my shed. He admires the little, sturdy jumping spiders for their feisty attitude, observing that if you attempt to scare one off, it holds its ground and sticks its front arms up in a boxer-like stance so it seems to be saying “I don’t think so!”.

And I ought to confess that this spider scared me more than it did him. It was hanging around with the right crowd: we found it suspended face high on a web in woodland outside Mississippi’s Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks last autumn.  Continue reading

A Red And White Dahlia With An Exclamation Mark

Dahlia flower, close up

Gresgarth Hall has a walled kitchen garden where fruit trees and vegetables grow alongside flowers for cutting, depending on the season. I was about to describe the dahlia I photographed there as bicoloured, but could not ignore the flush of peach that gives it a sophisticated look. A tricolour, then. I know someone out there is going to want to grow this when they see it, but unless an identification appears in the comments below, I have no idea what it is. The orange blurs in the background are nasturtiums and the feathery foliage, nigella.  Continue reading

It’s Manly!

Red kitchen items with the words "It's manly"

Nancy Merrill’s latest photo challenge is ‘Whimsical‘.  My contribution is this shot of a display of red, retro, plastic kitchenware in the City Museum of St. Louis. Why the words in the speech bubble tickle my sense of whimsy / humour / irony, I’m struggling to explain. My friends would no doubt say it’s because I have a dodgy sense of humour: I can laugh quite a lot at things that apparently aren’t funny, including my own jokes.   Continue reading

Name The Colour Of These Flowers

While visiting the flower shows this year, I was drawn to a colour thread represented by the flowers I’m showing here. I’d filed the pictures as Clarets thinking ‘Anyone for claret?’ would be a good post title, but reluctantly concluded that claret was stretching things too far…

Heads of small bright pink flowers with lighter centres

Achillea ‘New Vintage Violet’

though not quite so far as the liberties taken in naming this ‘New Vintage Violet’…

Hydrangea flower and foliage with a lime green fern

Hydrangea ‘Dark Angel Violet’

or this ‘Dark Angel Violet’. Plant names are a minefield at the best of times, even before you add colour into the mix.  Continue reading

Square In September: Last Hurrah

Rose with rounded shape and droplets of rain

Rosa ‘Olivia Austin’

This is my last week to share square pictures of pink roses and, to celebrate, this week’s roses come with extras for those who were part of the challenge, or kindly indulged my weakness, even though they are not quite as keen on roses. First, a pink rose named for a lovely lady. It ticks the strongly fragrant box and though I don’t know this variety quite as well as some of the others, with further acquaintance, I suspect it would be one of my favourites. Though I can’t claim this is a bud, it is only partly open and will eventually become a rosette.

Flowers in shades of pink with starry shapes

Pink astrantia

This celebration of a flower is for Becky, for hosting the challenge so gracefully, and for all those who took part, many of them sharing a square cropped picture with varying amounts of pink in it for the whole month. Well done! I’ve loved seeing them all appear in The Reader.

Paphiopedilum in shades of white, pink, crimson and cream

Paphiopedilum collection (Venus slipper orchids)

For orchid lovers, here’s a collection of them, In The Pink, and artfully arranged with moss, slate and logs.  Continue reading

Six on Saturday: Trentham Gardens in Late September

Dark leaves, with bronze autumn colour and a white flower spike

1. Actea simplex showing burnished autumn colour

I didn’t really want to go to a garden, but I forced myself. Hours sitting in a traffic jam (more accurately, a series of traffic jams) had taken their toll and, although Trentham Gardens was not far out of my way, I wasn’t feeling it.

As I was wavering, I remembered once calling a friend, MVM, to get out of going to see some gardens as I was not feeling well. He said “You’ll be sorry! You’ll like it! There’ll be flowers!”. I went, and it was that day I got to know my sweetheart. The influence of the two of them, spreading as it does over time and space, was powerful enough for me steer my car away from the default path, up the M6, to invest in all the things we invest in when we visit a garden.  Continue reading