of pests and petunias

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.
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edges and angles

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.
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threads of memory

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

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small town life

At first sight, nobody has really had much chance to travel over the last fifteen months, and yet when I talk to people, it seems that almost everyone I know has managed a getaway or three – to Cornwall, to Wales, to a B&B on the coast, a caravan or country cottage… I begin to think I am the only one who hasn’t had a holiday or a weekend away since 2019.

In fact I have travelled a few times, by train, to visit my aged mother, but I’ve not stayed overnight. Each time, I’ve returned the same day to the same one-horse town in Middle England.
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healthy habits

The last week has been Mental Health Awareness Week and I’ve seen a great deal of conversation online about the benefits of nature, with experts explaining how spending time in green spaces, or caring for plants or animals, can have a positive impact on our mental wellbeing.

Many business and life coaches have taken to the parks to hold their sessions in the great outdoors and inspire new healthy habits in their clients. My social media feeds are full of posts urging me to pause and take time out to look at buds on plants and the burgeoning leaves on trees.
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