Flowers on Friday

Seen in February, on the Salix Caprea Pendula (Kilmarnock willow tree). Purple crocuses form the Impressionist background colour.

At the tail end of winter, fuzzy nubs start to appear along the branches of pussy willows. These soft silver tufts—as well as the plant itself—are named for their resemblance to tiny cats’ paws. They’re actually flowers just before they fully bloom. The soft hairs protecting them from the cold.  Only male plants produce the fuzzy flowers.

Lens Artists Photo Challenge #34 | Close-up

change the way you feel

Recently there has been a lot of talk about the way in which gardening is helping people to change their lives: particularly people with mental health issues, disabilities or suffering from loneliness. Research has discovered that gardening can help reduce anxiety, improve cognitive recall, help with dementia, help combat isolation, improve physical health and stamina and make us feel good by releasing the brain chemical serotonin – the same chemical released when eating a bar of chocolate.

Maple leaves

People are brought together when they have a garden or allotment to care for. They learn how to care for something and reap rewards whether in flowers or produce. It might be the only place where they feel able to relax, can communicate with others, help with learning new practical skills/teamwork and planning.  Gardening can make you feel happier, healthier and more confident and give structure to your day.

Gardening has always been a pleasurable pastime for me and even when I have been without a garden I have always enjoyed visiting other gardens and having a few houseplants or container plants around me. There is so much that gardening can give you: from the benefits of simply being outdoors to the joy of seeing something grow from a seed. I can easily while away an hour or two just pottering around my own garden (and it’s not even very big!) doing a bit of dead-heading, weeding, clearing up dead leaves, redesigning parts of the borders, watching the bees and butterflies visiting and just enjoying the flowers. Photographing flowers is a bit of a passion too and getting that perfect shot can take a lot of time and patience and luck.

Visiting gardens open to the public is another of my ways of relaxing, there I can admire the way a garden has been designed, the combinations of the flower types, colours and structures. I can take away ideas for my own garden and dream about ‘what if.’

Goodnestone Park Gardens

Gardening is fun and creative, it gets you out into the fresh air and is a good form of exercise. Gardening can make you feel good and improve your mental and emotional well-being. And it can be done anywhere by anyone.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #15 | Changing

Up the Garden Path

There are many different pathways through a garden, and I do spend a lot of time walking them as visiting gardens is my passion. Here are some I have trodden on over the years.

Paths can lead us directly between borders on either side, or along terraced slopes, with steep or shallow steps, sometimes paved, often left as bare earth and wooden rises. Paths can be constructed from many different materials including stone – slabs or tiles or blocks of granite setts or cobbles, York stone or red brick; loose aggregates in many different colours even slate or glass; wooden boards or railway sleepers or perhaps simply grassed. They might be smooth and slippery or rough and uneven.

 Crazy paving and uneven steps might make the journey more dangerous or perhaps the intention is to slow you down so that you notice the planting around you.

They might be straight or curved. But the main purpose of a path within a garden is to lead you around the planting areas and direct you to a focus point or a seating area. A garden path is far more than simply a means for getting from point A to point B.

So the next time you are in a garden and walking along a path, stop and look and consider what purpose does it serve and why was that particular material selected.  And more importantly, is it successful.

Lens Artists Photo Challenge #12 | Path

Small is Beautiful…

(click to enlarge to full size – if you dare)

The spider species Araneus diadematus is commonly called the European garden spider, diadem spider, cross spider, or crowned orb weaver.

It is a dangerous time in the garden, whilst cutting down or pulling out dead and finished flowers you run the gauntlet of coming face-to-face with one of these. The thought of one of them getting into my hair gives me the heebie-jeebies. But needs must and all that. Perhaps I need to wear a hat.

Lens Artists Photo Challenge #11 | Small is Beautiful or maybe not…

Macro Monday #80

Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.  ~ Imogen Cunningham.

(click to enlarge to full size)

Elegantly twisting

My final tulip this year (I know I have gone on a bit) is this pretty purple one performing its last dance. Tulips give so much pleasure even in their dying moments. As tulips are my favourite flowers it seems a fitting photo for the end of the WordPress Photo Challenge which I have to thank for giving me inspiration when I first set out on the blogging journey. The weekly challenges enabled me to study the images I had in my archives that could meet the brief, or to go out and take a new image, bearing in mind the requirements. I began to take more considered shots. Understand what it was I wanted from a photograph; what I wanted my image to tell others. The challenge also helped me meet other bloggers in this vast blogosphere and create some long-lasting virtual friendships. We will all miss the weekly challenge, but I am confident we will continue to inspire one another as we share our worlds.

Daily Post Photo Challenge | Favourite


Days of coastal fog can be so annoying as the temperatures drop and the air is damp. One positive result is how condensation is formed on the tulips in the courtyard. The jewel-like colours sparkle with diamonds.

Sarah Raven lily-flowered tulip

Purple Dream lily-flowered tulip

Ballerina lily-flowered lightly fragrant tulip

Daily Post Photo Challenge | Liquid

Autumn blues: take a closer look

Common earwig (Forficula auricularia) peeking out from under the Echinops

The name earwig is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word meaning “ear creature,” probably because of a widespread ancient superstition that earwigs crawl into the ears of sleeping people. The earwig has a pair of horny forceps-like tail filaments, or pincers, at the posterior end of the abdomen, with those of the male being larger and of a different shape than those of the female. I think this one is a male. I associate them with Dahlias (from my childhood) but I can also tell you they are very fond of the herb basil.

Daily Post Photo Challenge | Peek