Many of my photographs seem to be images of juxtapositions of spaces: of fences with flowers poking their heads through, of blossoms cascading over garden walls and into alleyways, of plants growing incongruously on manmade vertical surfaces.
In the countryside, there are hedges and ditches, river banks and the green verges of country lanes, all rich with wildlife. In urban spaces, these borderlands are formed by iron railings, razor wire, wooden planks and panels, brick and concrete walls, gutters, kerbs and drains.
The crumbling of pointing and plaster offers a foothold to the natural world and the detritus of our lives offers a strange nourishment for flora and fauna. The tidy plants we try and confine to our own backyards are keen to reach out into a world beyond. At times joyous, jubilant, stealthy, furtive, they tumble, straggle, creep and strive for freedom.
The places where spaces meet and environments change are worlds in their own right. The tamed residents of gardens and allotments push to reclaim their liberty, while wildflowers encroach on our domestic territories.
Strange and beautiful hybrids blossom in these liminal spaces, the ephemeral results of chance encounters and serendipitous conditions.
And now I want to go and re-read the story Wild Flower from the collection The Seeds of Time by John Wyndham. I can’t right now, as my copy is somewhere in a lock-up in Spain, but for those unfamiliar with it, I’ve found this comprehensive summary and commentary on the Astrofella/ Books and Boots blog.
I’m slightly surprised I can’t find a poem more obviously associated with these urban and suburban edgelands, but here’s an extract from Accountability, which at least makes reference to the “city edge-rows”.
In the spread sheet lies are cushioned, crouching, couched in rows
of rows, the calumny of columns; borrow one and chase the missing sense
across the land of pain and counterpane; the continental eiderdown
is feather light and comfortless, it half obscures the peeks and pokes;
mistakes we take for granted grow while the sun flowers
and sheds its petalled light into the corners of our unswept lives.
My house-proud mind recycles while plastic bags fake roses
blowsing in the shadow of uncountable green bottle banks and all along
the city edge-rows. I leave my carrying-a-torch light, undercover
afterglow, and steel myself to rise and shine, to raise the now-familiar
flagging energies, to pay my penance and say cheese, to cheer,
to raise a toast and butter vitamin-enriched white sliced and parsnips
or whatever else it takes to spread clean sheets and shout aloud
with dazzling blue-white Cheshire smiles of well-begun-again.