A roar of Summer at the end of the week! In common with lots of my plant photography, I don’t know when these portraits of Eschscholzia californica were taken, but at some point in the early 2000s. I know where they were taken – in the garden of a post office in rural Lincolnshire, and on 35mm film. Californian poppies are a personal favourite of mine, for the delicacy of their satin-like blooms and their ferny sea-glass-coloured foliage.
Lilium ‘Night Flyer’ in the late afternoon sun was an impressive sight – nearly black flowers revealing the deepest, richest reds and licks of orange flame. Lilium ‘Night Flyer’ in the early morning after the night’s rain, lit by the soft-box of the clouds, was something else again; black petals reflecting white, droplets of water like garnet beads, and anthers like moist chocolate orange eclairs.
Dangerous-looking and ridiculously dramatic, these ‘Night Flyer’ lilies were glowing in the garden this afternoon, their stamens like pokers left too long in the fire.
Another trip out into the luxuriant froth of the Kent countryside yesterday evening to locate and photograph an entire field of ox-eye daisies – or Leucanthemum vulgare if you’re feeling fancy. The sunlight was milky and yellow and the effortless pointillism of the meadow was another impressionists’ delight!
As I type this bit of preamble, the swallows are screeching overhead, a fat wood pigeon is hoo-hooing insistently -if melodically – and a blackbird is trilling away like a happy milkman. It’s been very sunny, very warm, and our garden’s bobbing asteroid-belt of alliums is winking out, globe-by-starry globe, their purple colour desaturating and their flowers giving way to bulbous seed capsules that resemble little green pumpkins. It’s been quite a show, and the ending of it means the garden is moving towards a hotter, racier palette. Fireworks to follow!
We’ve got several great big clumps of Astrantia major – or Greater Masterwort – growing in the garden. It has just come into flower, though ‘flowers’ don’t quite describe the perfect papery things sitting above the foliage. They manage to be both very old-fashioned seeming and also architectural, a bit scruffy, but neatly appointed. Their green tips, green venation and translucency make them very photogenic, but they’re let down by their scent, which to my nostrils smells like cat shit you haven’t discovered yet. I think we can see this in the difference between the plant’s latin name, Astrantia major, which sounds rather lovely and important-seeming, and its common name, Masterwort, which sounds like a mildly unpleasant character imagined by Mervyn Peake.
I can’t tell you the year these photographs were taken, somewhere between 2003 and 2005. I can tell you they were taken in the front garden of a rural Lincolnshire post-office and that they’re De caen anemones. I can likewise tell you these photographs were taken on 35mm film. This is the thing about plants – the closer you get to them, the more extraordinary they are. I do remember when I first saw these images, how the common-or-garden reality of their subject slipped away, leaving me instead with milky nebulas and strange, hirsute planets orbited by pillow-shaped asteroids…
From plump, incipient buds to gas-jets to these glorious metallic starbursts, which in close-up, have all the intergalactic weirdness of a pulp science-fiction jungle planet. Our garden is now brimming with dozens of these pale purple grapefruit-sized sputniks. Alliums are where my affection for b-movies and plant-life collide!
A few posts back I shared these images of the alliums in my garden on the cusp of bursting their buds. There should have been a whole series of audible pops when they finally did their thing, releasing seemingly impossible numbers of tiny purple ‘flames’, destined to open up to form hemispheres of stars. In truth, it’s difficult to stop photographing them so apologies in advance!
If Willy Wonka was a garden designer, his signature plant would likely be the allium. They’re floral lollipops, perfectly perpendicular and gloriously globose.
We’ve got loads in our very small garden and its pretty much bud burst time. In a short matter of days it will be as if dozens of small purple explosions have gone off bang above the borders and continue to float there in gentle suspension. Magical.