Sweet Spots

NB: A note for WordPress Reader users – you need to click on the title of the post again to see the full photograph. (Otherwise you see just a tiny section!)

Part of the charm of hellebores comes from the variety of markings and colourings on the petals. The two flowers photographed here came from a friend’s garden. At first glance they look like they might be the same flower, but take a closer look and you can see small differences.

The top flower has larger, more diffuse spots that merge with the dark veining of the petals. You can see that the hellebore at the bottom has smaller specks of crimson that don’t obscure the petal’s veins as much. Tiny differences, but they add a lot to the appeal of a group of hellebores growing together.

A very similar hellebore is this little spotty one from my own garden. As the flowers on my plant get older, they become a lot paler than the flowers here. (EDIT: I’ve added a photo of the stages of this hellebore in my garden, so that you can see what I mean. The flower on the left side is darker when newly opened but will become a bit lighter as it develops.)

Pink-spotted hellebore flowers.
Three stages of a flower – you can see how much darker the newly-opened flower on the left is.

It will be interesting to see if any seedlings develop from it and the other hellebores growing nearby because they’re all quite different from each other. Maybe I’ll eventually have a family of related plants that have interesting variations like the hellebores in these photos.

Pink hellebore flower
From a friend’s garden: a pretty pink hellebore flushed with tiny crimson spots.

Shy Beauties

NB: A note for WordPress Reader users – you need to click on the title of the post again to see the full photograph. (Otherwise you see just a tiny section!)

It’s almost time to photograph the hellebores as they start to come into flower. While I’m waiting for them to be ready, I thought I’d show you a couple of flowers from previous years.

I’ve photographed the hellebore above quite a lot because it’s one of my favourites. But it’s not getting any easier. That’s because it’s a shy little flower, like most hellebores, and keeps its flowers facing earthwards. To photograph them I have to get down really close to the ground – and then get back up again!

Hellebores are lovely flowers, so getting into awkward positions to photograph them is worthwhile. There is good news though, in that there are newer varieties that have more upward-facing flowers. I’ve just treated myself to a new plant (but not photographed it yet) that has taller stems and much more upright flowers. This makes them far easier to see. (You’ll see photos of that one soon.)

For the bottom photo I made life easier for myself by taking the flower indoors to photograph. Simply placing it higher than the camera let me look into its little face and capture its portrait. 🙂

Hellebore flower

Looking Forward

NB: A note for WordPress Reader users – you need to click on the title of the post again to see the full photograph. (Otherwise you see just a tiny section!)

It feels like an in-between time in the garden at the moment. Spring isn’t here yet, but winter has become less harsh and it’s grip is not as cold as it was a week or so ago. Some mornings there may be traces of frost on the grass, but the heavier frosts that have iced the garden plants are absent. Now is a time of waiting for the new season to arrive.

There are some signs of the approach of spring already. The leaves of daffodils are well above the ground and their flower buds are slowly swelling. Hellebores are getting ready to bloom. A few crocuses have bravely opened their yellow flowers – the same crocuses as in the photo. (These are Crocus chrysanthus var. fuscotinctus, growing with Iris reticulata ‘Cantab’ and Iris reticulata ‘Harmony’ behind. I grew them together in a pot a couple of years ago to make a welcome by my front door.)

The cold weeks of January have made me impatient for the start of spring. I want to see plants bring life and excitement back to my garden, to feel the sun warm me, to hear the first bees buzz past. For me, the start of spring is a time of hope and of building anticipation as I gradually see plants reappear, like familiar and much-loved friends. While I’m waiting, the photographs from previous years are a reminder of the joys to come.

In the Winter Garden

NB: A note for WordPress Reader users – you need to click on the title of the post again to see the full photograph. (Otherwise you see just a tiny section!)

With January over, I hope that the cold will begin to ease. It feels like it’s time to get back to work in the garden, but I don’t fancy getting frosted when I do!

We haven’t had any more freezing mornings in the last week, so perhaps these will be the last of my frosty pictures for this year. I’ve been very glad to have the heavy hoar frosts around to give me something to photograph. They have made some very unremarkable parts of the garden take on a new interest.

Frosted rosehips
I’d normally have deadheaded this rose, but this year a few rosehips were left and the frost found them.

Some plants, like the Knautia macedonica (top), are generous in producing late flowers that are likely to get frosted. That makes them an obvious subject for me to photograph. But many of the other plants look much more ordinary until the frost decorates them. So plants that I might not have thought of photographing earlier in the year suddenly demand my attention.

The tiny yellow flowers of the pond plant below (Sisyrinchium californicum, aka yellow eyed grass) are long gone and have been replaced by its seed pods. The frost has turned these into odd-looking spiky growths, almost as if they’ve become some strange winter flowers reaching towards the frozen pond.

Frosted pond plant
Pond plant Sisyrinchium californicum takes on a different appearance when covered in hoar frost.

Sometimes there are non-plant things for me to photograph on a frosty day, like the spider’s web below. I can’t help wondering if the spider has survived the very cold spell – maybe it’s hiding in a warmer spot under some leaves somewhere. At any rate, I’m sure that any spiders and other creatures in the garden will be much happier when it warms up a bit.

However, since I began writing this, I’ve noticed that the latest weather forecast has promised us some very chilly nights. So I may have to be patient and wait a while yet for the warmer weather. (But roll on spring!)

Frosted Spider Web
Chilly weather for spiders!