Foraging for food: adventures with blackberry yogurt

Blackberries

I recently had another of those ‘great’ ideas – you know, the ones that go ‘orribly wrong. On Friday, I was out walking when I spotted some wild blackberries. Like most local walkers, I often pick fruit from the hedgerows. The ripest ones are snapped up quickly, so when I reached for one of the biggest berries in a good sized cluster, I was not expecting much.  Continue reading “Foraging for food: adventures with blackberry yogurt”

Butterfly sipping nectar: is this just a cold transaction?

Butterfly in wildflowers

It’s tempting to assume other living things experience the world pretty much as we do. While resizing this picture, I was thinking how much fun butterflies must have in a flower meadow – swinging on flowers while they sip a little nectar, perhaps comparing flavours and seeking out the ones they like best, then fluttering off to the next field…  Continue reading “Butterfly sipping nectar: is this just a cold transaction?”

Agave americana: monster plants

Agave americana in bloom

Yesterday’s post was a macro shot of a tiny bee on an allium: today I’m stepping back to get something much bigger in the frame.

If you love gardening, I hope you can find time to check out The Frustrated Gardener’s blog – he’s one of my firm favourites. Today he shared a post ‘Agave Aggravation’ with must-see pictures showing how an English glasshouse has been adapted to allow an Agave americana to flower.

It’s a giant, monocarpic plant: after several years it diverts all its energy into producing a spectacular flowering scape which is fertilized by humming birds. Afterwards it dies, leaving only its children to mark where it once thrived. The plant takes no chances, multiplying from small offsets that form around the base and from thousands of cross-pollinated seeds that bounce down from the sky.  Continue reading “Agave americana: monster plants”

A bee on a flower pillow

Bee exploring alliums

I wanted to share this picture of a bee exploring a mass of flowers at the recent RHS Tatton Flower Show. My iPhone shot isn’t perfect but I like the muted colours, the softness and the textures.

The bee may appear to be resting in this shot (we did see a large, intoxicated-seeming bee sleeping in a striped rose) but it was far from the ideal model, intently waggling all over the alliums, making the usual incoherent bee satisfaction and interest noises.  Continue reading “A bee on a flower pillow”

Spanish moss at Magnolia Plantation, Charleston

Lake and skyline with Spanish moss

Sky is reflected in the lake around dawn at one of America’s largest romantic gardens. I’m at Magnolia Plantation with a group of garden writers: one of the best surviving examples of the romantic style of gardening. The idea is that gardeners should co-operate with nature, rather than try to control it. It’s a delicate balance.

The Spanish moss tumbling from the trees catches my eye – a Gothic plant if there ever was one. Ann Radcliffe would have approved.

Spanish moss at Magnolia Plantation

For more interpretations of this week’s theme, visit the Daily Post’s photo challenge.

 

 

Insect hotels

Home for insects at the Dorothy Clive Garden

I signed up for 30 Days Wild and I’m sharing my pictures of insect hotels (also called bug condos) as a Random Act of Wildness. These imaginative homes for insects are a practical way to help the environment and bring grownups and kids closer to nature.

Insect hotel (detail)

An insect hotel is packed with materials that create holes of different sizes, offering shelter for a wide range of creatures. Talk about consumer choice! ‘Would you prefer a roomy kingsize or snug single, Mr Solitary Bee? You’ll find a buffet breakfast in the meadow on the ground floor.’ Continue reading “Insect hotels”