Blossom Time (1)

Right now my garden is frothy with the blossom of fruit trees. While perhaps a little plainer than the ornamental cherries and crab apples, they do give a lovely show of graceful flowers. The pink flush on the backs of the petals of the apple blossom pictured here really appeals to me. There’s something about the soft shading of the petals and the deeper pink of the unopened buds that’s particularly pretty in combination with the delicacy of the white.

The blossom in these photographs belongs to our Braeburn apple tree. It’s a small tree but gives a good crop of crisp, tasty apples. (We also have a Cox’s Orange Pippin, which is still very young. I prefer the Braeburn apples.) We aren’t the only ones that like the apples though – any windfalls are a magnet for blackbirds and wood pigeons. It can be quite entertaining to watch them competing for the fallen apples. Luckily for the birds, though, an apple is big enough to satisfy the appetites of several hopefuls.

While they’re in flower, the apple trees are the biggest provider of flowers for any bees or other pollinating insects that are around. So not only do the trees provide us with food and beautiful flowers, they are an important source of pollen and nectar early in the year.

I have other young fruit trees in the garden too. Especially beautiful is the cherry tree – just as much as any of the ornamental varieties – and that’s my next set of flowers to photograph. I’ll show you the results next week! 🙂

Apple Blossom

Not Yellow: White Daffodils

My childhood image of daffodils was always of brilliant yellow flowers. There were borders of them growing along all the edges of my parents’ garden and a few miles away there were vast swathes of them growing alongside a river. Some had a bit of orange on the cup, but most were yellow.

I do have a number of yellow daffodils in my own garden. I especially like the tiny ones because their short stems make them less likely to get flattened if it’s windy. But now I have more white ones (some with an orange or pale yellow cup). The idea of having the white daffodils was to give a more sympathetic backdrop to the hellebores which are still in flower. (The yellow daffodils can look a rather harsh colour when growing alongside the pinks and creams of the hellebores.)

Unfortunately for my colour scheme, that didn’t really work – turns out I have a number of yellow daffodils growing close to the hellebores after all. The problem is that bulbs so often get accidentally dug up and then replanted in the wrong place. I’ll need to shift those yellow daffodils and be a bit more careful in future!

Meanwhile, if there’s time away from all the work needed in the garden, I must bring some of the daffodils indoors to photograph them. It has been too windy outside to photograph many of them there. Breezy days are all part of the joys of spring flower photography, hehe!

white daffodil

Calm White

Spring here can be full of colour. There are the reds and pinks of hellebores, and of tulips later on. Of course there are the yellows of daffodils that mean spring to most of us. And above all, I love the blues of anemones, hyacinths and grape hyacinths.

Some white can be a welcome change. White flowers have an air of freshness and for me at least, a more natural, less ‘bred’ look than many other garden flowers. The simplicity of the colour can lend a calm feeling to the area they’re planted in. Less distracting or attention-grabbing than the more colourful spring blooms.

The pasqueflower (Pulsatilla vulgaris) photographed here is growing near one end of the pond I’ve been building. I’m hoping that it will give a softer and slightly wilder feel to the area around the pond in spring. (Pulsatilla vulgaris is actually native to the UK.)

That wilder feel that I’d like won’t carry on through the the rest of the year. Because nearby there are clumps of echinaceas in an intense red and a (fortunately subtler) orange that will demand attention during late summer. The echinaceas are happy there so I won’t move them. They’re short-lived plants, so when they need to be replaced, it will be a bit further away.

For now, though, I’m enjoying the delicate look of these delightfully fluffy white flowers.

Flower of Pulsatilla vulgaris (pasque flower) in white.

Transient Pleasures: Crocuses

In spring things start to move quickly in the garden. The first shoots soon become the first leaves of re-emerging plants. Flowers arrive, dazzle us with their vibrant colours, and disappear again. There’s always something new coming along to replace the flowers that have gone before.

The busyness of spring means that I often miss photographing some of the flowers in the garden. Every year I tell myself that I’ll try to get them all, but that doesn’t happen. There are usually too many things demanding attention at the same time (a new pond this year), so some things just don’t get photographed.

These crocuses are an example of my ‘misses’. The pictures here are from last year. This year I was too slow with them. I certainly noticed the crocuses when first the yellow, and then the purple and the purple and white flowers opened wide in the sun. And I did take time to enjoy the sight of them. But somehow I was always too busy to have my camera in hand whenever I was near them. By the time I’d thought of it, they’d started to go over. Shame. But I’m glad that I did make the effort to take photographs soon enough last year.

This spring the crocuses seem to have gone over more quickly than usual due to the very warm weather we’ve had. One minute their flowers were gleaming in the sunshine and the next there were what looked like shreds of tattered silk on the ground. The crocus flowers arrived suddenly and departed just as suddenly. Next year I need to remind myself that they may not be around for long and to take photographs as soon as I have the chance.

Purple-striped crocus 'Pickwick'

A Bright Spot

While I’ve been waiting for the spring flowers to start opening there has been a very bright splash of colour indoors. These bold reddish-orange flowers belong to Clivia miniata, otherwise know as the ‘forest lily’ or ‘natal lily’.

The colour feels much more summery than the paler colours that are appearing with the spring flowers. Reds and oranges always make me think of hot summer days. I think my clivia is a rather darker shade and more red than most (judging by the pictures in Google search). Apparently they are more variable when raised from seed, but I have no idea if this one was. (It was given to me by another gardener. A fabulous gift!)

These flowers have been a cheerful and quite exotic sight. They have greeted me every time I went into the conservatory for the last couple of weeks. Now the flowers are starting to fade – I shall miss them until they return next year!

Clivia miniata (forest lily or natal lily)

Oh! You Pretty Things

The hellebores here were given to me from my neighbour’s garden. She knows that I photograph flowers, so she knew I would be delighted with them. A lovely gift, and one that kept me happy for a long while.

The top photograph is of a flower floating in a bowl of hellebores. I found that I preferred photographing the hellebore close-up, rather than trying to photograph the whole bowl of flowers. I think that’s partly due to the limitations of my bowl (not the most attractive) and partly because I find it much harder to create a pleasing composition from so many very varied flower heads.

It’s a lot more satisfying to me to arrange a smaller group of flower heads, especially if they are somehow related. That makes it easier to concentrate on the details of the flowers – even more so if I choose to photograph just a single flower.

I love seeing hellebores appear in early spring. They have a very exotic look which is not what I would really expect in a UK garden that is still shivering in chilly breezes. Both single and double flowers are utterly enchanting, but the doubles are just a bit more elaborate. I actually think the singles suit my garden better because of the fairly naturalistic planting here. However, I’m happy to create a slightly more formal looking area that should suit a few of the doubles – if I get a chance to buy some!

You may have noticed that I pinched my title from the David Bowie song. If you’d like to hear a very different version by Lisa Hannigan, it’s here. Enjoy!

White hellebore flowers

Hellebore Time!

This is a time of year that I really look forward to. The garden is beginning to waken from winter and the first flowers of the year are starting to open. These early flowers are an invitation to come outside and have a look around to see what new delights have appeared.

Amongst these, the hellebores are the flowers that demand attention first. After the tiny winter flowers of mahonia, Viburnum bodnantense and winter jasmine, their big, showy blooms bring an exotic feel to borders that have been starved of colour for a few months.

White and pink hellebore flowers

I find the variations in hellebore flowers fascinating. There are so many different flowers and new ones being bred all the time – all with beautiful colours and markings on the petals.

The flower forms can vary too. On this one the nectaries are very large and a deep red. (The nectaries are the tube-like shapes, arranged in a ring at the base of the petals. In fact, these nectaries are reckoned to have evolved from the hellebore’s original petals, while what we think of as the petals are actually sepals. The sepals last for far longer than petals can, meaning that hellebores have very long-lasting flowers.)

These are such pretty flowers (and good for early bees) that I would love to have lots more. Unfortunately, they can be quite expensive to buy, but occasionally I’m lucky enough to find one at a price that’s easier to afford. For the pleasure they give, they’re worth it!

White and pink hellebore flower

Unexpected Sparkle

The sparkling drops of melted frost on the seed head of Stipa gigantea (golden oats) above caught my attention one morning. I had gone outside knowing that any frost had already melted and expecting it too be too late to find any interesting photographs. When I saw this, however, I realised that I was wrong. There was still plenty to see and photograph.

You may have already seen several of the photographs from that morning in an earlier post: https://annmackay.blog/2022/01/30/after-the-frost/

Both of these photographs are of the Stipa gigantea. I was tempted to keep the more sparkly top one as a possible Christmas ‘nature’s decoration’ photo, but decided to hope for more frost before the end of next December. The need to find something to post right now was stronger!

The garden keeps me going even in the winter. It gives me new things to look at and to explore with my camera. It stops me from getting bored and helps me to look forward to the future. Sometimes it even brings a bit of sparkle into my life. Hope your life is a bit sparkly too!

Water drops on Stipa gigantea (golden oats)
Water drops on Stipa gigantea (golden oats)