Spiky Squares

During the month of March, Becky, Queen of the Square format, is back. This month she would like to see anything spiky, jagged, bristly, serrated, prickly or barbed in whatever interpretation you like. The only rule: it must be a square.
March Squares

Mahonia ‘Charity’ – Slender spikes of pale yellow flowers appear from November to March, above rosettes of large, handsome, dark green, holly-like leaves.

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

Flower of the Month: February

February heralds the start of spring here in the UK, although officially spring begins in March. The 1st if you go by the meteorological calendar (I don’t) or the spring equinox which is on Wednesday 20 March this year. After the dull dark days of winter, February is when the days grow longer, the light lingers until late evening and sunrise is before 8 am.  It is also when delicate looking bulbs pop up above ground and buds begin to open and gardeners start to get excited again. Dwarf Iris reticulata or histrioides, daffodils, hyacinths, snowdrops and crocuses are among the more common ones. In Cornwall, camellias and magnolias are making their presence known.

With all these delightful alternatives choosing one flower to represent the month is quite difficult, but I shall opt for the Camellia as it is the one flower that adorns many gardens, public spaces and churchyards in Cornwall during this month and is what I consider to be the ‘Winter Rose’.

February is the  start for the collection of over 500 Camellias in Trebah Gardens to come into its main flowering season and where you will find flowers ranging from pure white to dark crimson, some double, some single, some flecked or bicoloured. So if you are in Cornwall now is the time to visit some of the wonderful Cornish gardens.

Flower of the Month: January

The hellebore is one of the earliest blooms to be spotted in the garden, appearing from late winter to early spring.  H. niger is a semi-evergreen perennial to 30cm, with pedately lobed, leathery, dark green leaves and, despite the name, the flowers are usually pure white or pink-flushed white, bowl-shaped flowers up to 8cm in width. Known commonly as the ‘Christmas Rose’ it usually flowers earlier than H. orientalis cultivars, often in January or February, but mine has sometimes not flowered until March. They self-seed freely and they dislike being disturbed.

The main Hellebores to be cultivated by gardeners are the Lenten Rose varieties (Helleborus orientalis) producing large saucer-shaped flowers in a wide range of colour forms from white to pink, plum and deep blackish-purple, often conspicuously spotted reddish-purple. They will bloom from late January onwards.

They love being in dappled sunlight and need no more than a few hours a day which is why the perfect location is underneath deciduous trees or scattered in a woodland garden. Remove the old blackened leaves and allow the new growth and buds to emerge. They do not require a lot of fertiliser, but do need protecting from slugs. Though having said that mine do seem to survive slug attacks reasonably well.

Five Minutes with a dying Helleborus niger

DesleyJane – a lovely arty scientist now living in Melbourne – is also a wonderful photographer and a huge macro fan. She has a new challenge called “regularrandom for anyone to join in with which involves spending 5 minutes with the subject matter.

Choose a scene or an object and keep fixed on that object, and shoot for just five minutes.   You can move around the object or scene but try not to interfere with it. See what happens in that five minutes, what changes, how the light changes, what comes into the frame or leaves the frame, or what other parts of the object you can focus on or use to your advantage.

After the ‘Beast from the East’ departed I went to check on my spring flowers that had optimistically begun to flower. My Helleborus niger,  commonly called Christmas rose or black hellebore, was in a sad state. Several stems were broken and bent and the flowers soddened. I rescued one flower and brought it inside to use as the subject for a photo shoot with my macro lens. Because the flower was in a poor state I decided to cut it in half and see what shapes that would yield. Below are my results.

All photos were taken using my Olympus OM-D E-10 camera and Macro 60mm lens.

If you would like to join in then please visit DJ’s site where you will find more information and ideas about the challenge.

Macro Monday #68

Pretty mauve candle

(click to enlarge to full size)

A new crocus in the garden, Crocus tommasinianus, an early flowering species and the absolute classic, mini mauve candle. Planted in a shallow bowl this year along with Iris reticulata ‘Harmony’ and some miniature daffodils, but they will go into the grass after flowering where they should self-seed and spread. Loved by the bees apparently, though I have yet to see one of those this year.