Garden flowers

So many flowers appearing in the garden. Here’s a selection.

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One of the joys of spending a lot of time at home is to see them as they develop, day by day.

Featured image is a large-flowered clematis.

Allium coming out

Spring. What a great time to be spending a lot of time at home, when we are lucky enough to have a garden. The daily progression of some of the plants is quite remarkable. Here, individual allium flowers are just starting to come out, 6 petals and 6 stamens each; there was just a single one a couple of days ago. Just look how many individual flowers there are, burgeoning out. Soon it will be a huge ball of flower.

allium coming out

Mint Moth 2

It’s nearly three years since I last saw a mint moth in the garden. It doesn’t mean they’ve not been around, they’re just so small (under 2 cm) and fleeting. This one was in a similar place, on a forget-me-not flower by a patch of oregano, which they’re said to like as well as mint.

mint moth 2

These moths fly by day, as well as by night. Seen close up they have an amazingly furry body. This is probably the first of two breeds within the year in England.

This was a telephoto shot, whereas my previous post used the camera’s macro facility and is slightly sharper.

Mr Blackbird’s bath

After Mrs Blackbird’s bath it was her partner’s turn the other day. The technique involves dipping the tail in, then dipping the head in, and then the wings, each time splashing furiously.

I really wanted to see his eye more clearly, so crept round the garden to get the sun behind me. He flew off, but soon came back to complete his ablutions. A bit of a show-off really.

Click twice to see an image full screen. In the last image the tail flicks water up as the beak submerges.

Purple Archangel

This plant is ubiquitous in our garden, the ultimate survivor which spreads rapidly in some areas every year. The patches are quite pleasing, with green variegated leaves all year and splashes of purple flower in spring/summer. But get in close and it’s magnificent!

dead nettle

The posh name is lamium purpureum, and the popular name is dead nettle, due to its resemblance to the common nettle but lack of a sting. With such close-up beauty, its third name, purple archangel, seems far more appropriate!

Garden fruit

With the unusually sunny April weather, the fruit bushes/trees in the garden are all suddenly bursting forth in their various ways to flower and then fruit. Lockdown gives the time to look daily, and the speed of development is quite astonishing.

 

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History suggests this development is perilously early, as the danger of a frosty night is ever present until June. We shall see.

Bottle brush

It’s difficult to believe that we would only just be home from Houston according to our original travel plans. We’re just left with family Zoom time and memories, including this pretty bottle brush tree, one of my more successful ventures into gardening in Houston. This one flowers well, early in March. It’s easy to see why it has the name.

bottle brush
flower
bottle brush buds
buds

These plants originate from Australia. They appear to be happy with the Houston climate.

 

Blue and Yellow

The most striking flowers in the garden at the moment are the blue muscari in the flower border and the yellow marsh marigolds by the pond, now taking over from fading daffodils and tulips.

Click twice to see an image full screen.

The name marsh marigold is said to refer to its use in medieval churches at Easter time as a tribute to the Virgin Mary (“Mary gold”.) Also known as water buttercup or kingcup, amongst many other names.

Blue muscari is also known as grape hyacinth, corresponding with the resemblance of its hanging urn-shaped flowers to bunches of grapes.

Now well established, both plants come back reliably year after year with little attention.

Spring peacock

Having coffee in the spring sunshine today, on impulse I grabbed the camera to shoot some spring flowers. Then this over-wintered peacock butterfly presented him(/her)self, wings a bit raggy and faded, but still beautiful, first sunning himself then feeding on those very flowers.

Click twice to see those furry wings and body, antennae and feeding.

And who should come along to see what’s going on?

peacock dog

Crocosmia Lucifer

Amazing what plant breeders have done with the smaller Montbretia we used to have in our garden around 50 years ago. Crocosmia Lucifer is around 4-5 feet high, with strongly coloured flowers.

Eyes in the back of my Head

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There it was, flowering in the garden. Familiar-looking and vermilion, but I couldn’t remember what it was called and ended up asking my far more knowledgeable neighbour. “Crocosmia” she said. I was none the wiser.

But I took a photo of one virile, prehistoric-looking budding stem because of reminded me of a dinosaur’s head – maybe a pterodactyl?

Fast forward a few days and we were talking again, me and Mrs Greenfingers next door, and she dropped into the conversation the other name for this flower, which I remembered right away. Montbretia.

I couldn’t help thinking that naming this version of the flower Lucifer was rather appropriate. It’s light and bright, and has a devilish look to it when seen from the angle  photographed.

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Allium – another week on

Another week on from my last look, the petals on the now-huge allium flowers are losing or have lost colour and almost faded to nothing. The seed heads are full and bulbous. And still there is that amazing cluster of stems emerging from the apparently lit-up centre.

allium3

The speed at which these changes take place unnoticed by us is truly remarkable. The more you look, the more nature has to give.

 

Allium Revisited

It’s only just over a week since my post on Allium. Now the heads of flowers are bigger than my hand. Here are two pictures at the extremes of focus, each with a story to tell.

allium set2 2

The petals are beginning to wilt, and the seed heads are forming – three pairs of bulging seeds corresponding to the three pairs of petals/sepals.

allium set2 1

The interior focus shows a wonderful pattern of huge numbers of inner stalks that hold up the flowers/seed heads. The light seems to shine out from the centre!

My Panasonic TZ200 has a superb feature that makes this different focusing very simple, even handheld – it’s called post-focus, which takes a number of shots at different focus points and then lets you choose which shots to save.

 

Allium

The beauty of nature is all around. We tried planting allium bulbs in the garden for the first time this year. Late May they were looking promising (see featured image.)

But now look how they’ve now developed – long stems with huge heads, several inches across, comprising gradually emerging flowers with striking geometrical patterns.

Double click for more detail.

I’m intrigued that there are 6 petals on the individual flowers, which is not one of nature’s preferred Fibonacci numbers – but perhaps they are 3 pairs, and 3 is a Fibonacci number.

And if you look at the picture on the left, it’s impossible to count accurately, but there are over a hundred individual stems in the head, each of which will develop a flower. Since the situation is so dynamic you could not expect this to be an exact Fibonacci number, but it’s somewhere on the way between 89 and 144!

Gardening

We’ve always had a garden since our first house in Sandbach in 1968. There is always something to do in a garden, and yet if you go away for a while it usually survives – in our case often thanks to a helpful neighbour – although afterwards there may be more urgent things to do.

For me it just happens – a realisation of what is to be done next. Mow the lawn, stake things that are falling over, watering, weeding, feeding, managing the compost heap, planting, tidying, pruning, potting, picking fruit… The garden is a process, and I am just a part of that process, along with the weather, soil, plants, pond, insects, birds and so on.

It’s nothing special, our garden. Not too neat. A bit shaggy and unkempt. Fairly overgrown bits left for some creature or other. Occasional regret at uncovering a hiding frog or newt who makes a dash for the pond. Always wondering what to do with the odd snail – move it and hope a thrush finds it?

I avoid like the plague the plethora of chemicals that can be applied to the garden to kill this, that or the other. If things don’t like where they are or are susceptible to pests, then maybe they’re in the wrong place. Caterpillars can be a nuisance, but then are the moths and butterflies? So where would we be without them? And how do you know what you are killing with those chemicals?

Birds bring special life to the garden, so I like to encourage them with food, drink, nestbox and birdbath. What joy they bring! As does the squirrel, despite his pesky habit of getting at the bird food. We miss him now, and the field mouse, there are none currently around here. Where did they go?

In our years of having a dog, it was difficult to keep a gap for hedgehogs and frogs to move around from garden to garden. Now they’re rare, maybe because not enough gaps were left by people in their ubiquitous fences. But they’re part of a garden as well.

The thing about the garden – all is temporary, like sand sculptures. Beauty one minute gradually dissolves into dishevelment and occasional ugliness. So there’s always things to do.

There’s a modern trend to save labour in the garden through such as stone patios, decking and artificial grass. But then it’s not a living garden, part of nature; it’s part of the built environment – increasing the evident alienation with our essential selves, which are after all a part of nature. It’s the wrong way to go.

Better to just get out there and garden, a bit at a time, just to remember who and what you are, and just to be. You’ll often find a friendly robin comes along to keep you company.

Or if you really can’t find the time, employ a gardener!