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

Sunlight Attack II

Experimental picture taken looking up into a rose

The last few days, we’ve had enough rain to kickstart the process of re-greening the North of England’s meadows, and I started to feel a little celebration of sunshine might not go amiss. Isn’t that the way it always is?

My first is a decidedly strange (for me) shot of roses growing overhead – so high, they ruled out the little dead-heading needed for a conventional shot. At the time I took it, I was half-imagining some form of caption in the top left: a concise one like Dog Days or Wine & Roses. As the end result captures more of their spirit than I expected, I’m leaving it alone. For now.  Continue reading

A Carpet of Leaves And A Much-Loved Dress

Leaves carpeting a woodland floor

Leaves carpeting a woodland floor: ivy, geranium and hellebore

I couldn’t help noticing this pretty mix of leaves – their colours and textures seem more like a design than purely accidental. The feathery leaves are Herb Roberts (Geranium robertianum), looking their best in autumnal colours; the glossy leaves are some form of hellebore and the veined ones, ivy. Spent pollen stalks have added their forms to the mix.  Continue reading

Pattern

When I was a nipper, Mama and Papa (Mum’s parents) lived nearby in a stone-clad end of terrace house with high ceilings and an unusual, wrap-around layout. My little sister and I spent lots of time there. Mama and Papa patiently entertained us with family games such as marbles, “Ey up, milady!” and “Kings”; tended and groomed us to keep us presentable; fed us with pies and other homely dishes; and gave us small treats or chastisements as our conduct decreed.

Mama liked patterns. She knitted. She had patterned wallpaper, but then everyone did – it was well before the days when minimalist, Scandinavian style would throw a magnolia coloured spanner in the works of a thriving wallpaper industry by making neutrality the only safe way to go. Continue reading