Years ago, the RAC used The Rolling Stones’ haunting Gimme Shelter in a TV commercial where a lone lady’s car breaks down in the dark and a black knight on a shining motorbike pulls up to fix it for her. It was more atmospheric and persuasive than my summary gives credit: although I doubt TV advertising (like all intrusive advertising) works as well as the sales team would claim, in this case it triggered a purchase. I bought the (wrong) Rolling Stones CD to try to get a copy. I’m just that bit too young to be truly knowledgeable about the band and thought I was looking for 2000 Light Years From Home, a good title for a stranded lady.
Gimme Shelter sprang to mind when I spotted this ladybird. I’d have cropped in a bit tighter but liked the dramatic effect of the wizened seed capsules, hard, almost ugly against the splendour of the fiery foliage; the feeling of disarray. Continue reading “Gimme Shelter In A Peony Seed Husk”
If I was forced to name my favourite flower, there’s a good chance it might be the peony. I love to see the red fronds of the herbaceous type pushing through the soil back to back together in their unearthly fashion around this time of year, full of promise for the season to come. And when their blooms appear – well, could you blame me for deserting the rose in favour of these?
Primrose Hall, a fixture at all the best UK flower shows, are currently teasing a sketch of their proposed 2019 Chelsea Flower Show design online. Arrangements of blooms tower over a garden of peonies. In the background, a garland tumbles down towards flowers floating in a traditional clawfoot bath. That’s my kind of outdoor bathroom!
The pictures I’m sharing here were taken on their stands at last year’s RHS Chatsworth and Hampton Court Flower Shows.
I had thought that there must be more than one peony here but as Primrose Hall’s Alec White, who kindly agreed to identify the peonies, observed, “Note that the corals change colour quite a lot as they mature!”. Continue reading “A Celebration Of Peonies”
When I first started working with roses and discovered I was going to need to distinguish between 30 or 40 pinks and know their names, I resorted to flash cards: the kind young children use to learn words. In no time at all I was well on the way to a lifetime of floral nitpicking. Is a the shape of a double flowered rose technically a shallow cup, recurved, a pompon or a chalice? That kind of thing.
So I often notice when people mistake a peony or a camellia for a rose, even if I’d have to concede that the colours and forms of their flowers can be essentially the same.
If ever a flower looked like it was wearing a petticoat, this is it. It’s hard to believe this bloom is only partially open. The yellow petals in the centre will gradually become more prominent, but I like the flower at this stage while the outer petals are still a pure pink, and are forming a protective cup around the inner petals.
I often write about roses, but peonies are my first and abiding floral love. I’ve already explained how this year I hopped around from foot to foot (metaphorically of course) waiting for the season to arrive. My idea was to have fun learning how to prepare them for photography, then taking pictures in a nice setting. We live and learn: today, I’m sharing my six biggest mistakes when I hoped to have been sharing pictures overflowing with peonies. Continue reading “Photographing peonies: how it all went ‘orribly wrong”