Virtual Streptocarpus Collection

Purple flowers with creamy lower petals

Streptocarpus ‘Gold Dust’

Although I have never grown a streptocarpus, I do collect these generous plants after a fashion, by taking pictures of them and sharing my virtual collection here. Much of my material comes from Dibleys Nurseries’ award-winning displays at the major UK flower shows that attract me like a bee to honey. Their plants always look in wonderful condition, each flower jostling with its neighbour for our attention. Add in the variety of colours, patterns and forms and you have a flower photographer’s treat.  Continue reading

The Last Living Thing

A bird on the edge of the Grand Canyon

Transformed into a silhouette, its beak open, the bird on the edge of the Grand Canyon seems more symbol than living creature: something we’ll each interpret under influences as consistent as temperament and experience or as fleeting as a mood. Long time followers may recognise a similar, more uplifting shot, taken nearby.

Coming across the picture and the short poem, Requiem by Kurt Vonnegut, in quick succession, it seemed fitting to put them together here, today.   Continue reading

Toad-Lily With Grasses And Nicotiana

Tricyrtis flowers and buds with grasses

High up on my photogenic flowers list comes tricyrtis, also known by the folk name toad-lily. This one is all the more picturesque for the curtain of grasses and backdrop of nicotiana (those pale, drooping, trumpet-like flowers).

Layered symmetry is a big part of a toad-lily’s charm. Looking down at the main flower, beneath three forked tongues joined triskelion-style, you’ll find a ring of legs with shoes that appear to be dancing. Well, they might if, like me, you’ve been keeping up with this year’s Strictly. The three narrow petals have a delicate smattering of freckles and are positioned between three darker sepals, their ends curling back. The yellow splotches (almost hearts, if you squint enough) give this particular form a sunny glow.  Continue reading

Atmospheric Flowers: Blue Asters

Masses of small blue, daisy-like flowers

Some plants don’t just add colour, mass and form to a border, they add atmosphere, nostalgia even. Take old-fashioned blue asters, for instance. Individually, the small, daisy-like flowers are on the raggedy side but their profusion packs a punch. If you can look at this picture without imagining a hum of pollinators foraging the flowers for nectar and pollen, you’re not getting out enough.

When I was a child, I used to know places nearby where asters like these grew wild. In those days, my eye didn’t appraise a plant for mildew or an ample coverage of foliage: I took pleasure in the blue daisies and assumed the grown ups (or Mother Nature) would take care of the rest. I poked a few stems through buttonholes to decorate my cardigan and called them Michaelmas daisies without understanding anything of the long history wrapped up in the name.  Continue reading

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