nature lessons

Pink mallow flowers with bees

When I was a child, my family used to attend church regularly. The minister was a kind man who cycled round the town as he said it put him in closer contact with his parishioners than driving a car would. I don’t know how the adults felt about him, but I was a shy little girl and he must have been one of the few men I trusted.

Perhaps what I remember most is that he had a story for every occasion and could turn any situation into a learning experience without it coming across as heavy-handed or didactic.

So I think I’ll dedicate these “lessons”, based on photos I’ve taken recently, to the memory of KWP, which is how he used to sign his contributions to the parish magazine.

I love sunflowers; they always seem to be so open, honest and cheerful. So I was a little taken aback to see this bloom, which is clearly struggling to open its eyes. I guess even the brightest and best of us have off days.

half-open sunflower

The next photo triggers two thoughts.

Firstly, how much difference it can make when we take care over things. I’m not a great fan of begonias, but these tone so well with the paint on the door and frame that I can’t help but be cheered every time I walk past them.

The second thought is that we can change our attitude and mood by careful selection of what we think about: I carefully clipped the photo so as not to show the plants in the pot on the other side of the door, which are a multi-coloured bunch that are far less aesthetically pleasing.

Red and white begonias and red front door

Although these flowers are very familiar, I didn’t know what they were called, so I made a quick search online and discovered they are Kerria japonica ‘Pleniflora’, commonly known as Japanese rose. I also found out that they are supposed to flower in the spring.

Well it certainly isn’t spring here now. In fact the nights are drawing in and the evenings are beginning to be quite chill. Still, these blooms – reaching out from the hedge on long stalks almost at eye level – were quite literally “in your face” and impossible to ignore. So, just because the textbooks say there’s an expected season or behaviour, doesn’t mean that’s the end of it. These flowers are clearly determined not to give in and to make a show of it while they can.

Japanese rose - Kerria japonica ‘Pleniflora’

And then there are these clock-type seed heads. I don’t know what the plant is, though it might be sow thistle. It’s definitely one of the “damned yellow composites” – the many, many dandelion-type flowers that are the bane of any gardener’s life.

I am always amazed how composite flowers manage to coordinate things so that the seeds on any one bloom are all ready at the same time – I have difficulty enough coordinating plans with one or two other people. I’m also intrigued by the amount of havoc that could be caused on a well kept lawn by a single seed head – the pure potential of this furry pom-pom is tremendous.

Dandelion-type clock seed heads

Finally, I should probably mention the mallow flowers at the very top of the post. It’s actually the attitude of bees that I noticed. Having found what they were looking for, they just dived straight in confidently, without dithering and without worrying about covering their backs.

bees on pink mallow flowers

I’m sure there are other “lessons” or conclusions that could be drawn from the photos. But I think that will do for now.

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

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