I used to love petunias and geraniums and all the vivid windowbox flowers whose colours brighten up grey days and grey urban spaces. But I fell out of love with petunias when the ones I was growing in pots on the deck in California developed an infestation of caterpillars. I can’t bear to kill creatures of any sort, but nor am I impressed to see my small gardening efforts reduced to the buffet at a bug-feast.
Later, in the early 90s in Spain, my love of geraniums was sorely tried when there was a plague of butterflies – Cacyreus marshalli – in Madrid. Their larvae bored into the stems of many plants around the city and wreaked havoc with the traditional Mediterranean balcony displays of scarlet flowers bursting between wrought iron railings.
Continue reading “of pests and petunias”
Wikipedia shows that there are many plants known as “starflower“, including shrubs, succulents, alpine plants, bulbous perennials and the summer-flowering herb that I know as borage.
Although the flowers of borage are undoubtedly star shaped, and usually a really rather lovely heavenly blue, they tend to face earthwards and grow so low that you end up looking down at their backs, which is not the usual angle for star gazing.
Continue reading “looking down on stars”
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.
Continue reading “edges and angles”
Walking along by the canal the other day, I paused to take a photograph of what I initially thought was a bee.
This meant stepping off the path a little, and I waited to one side as a dog walker was coming along in the opposite direction. He could see that I was taking photos and told me to watch out for an orchid that was in bloom some twenty yards back along the way he’d come.
Continue reading “telling tales”
At this time of year, the rural hedgerows and urban edgerows froth with white lacy flowers.
I’m not sure I know the difference between cow parsley and cow parsnip, wild carrot and hogweed, chervil and hemlock, or a host of other white-flowered umbellifers, but they always trigger a singsong voice in my head:
Queen Anne’s lace, Queen Anne’s lace,
You’ll find it growing all over the place
Continue reading “threads of memory”