Our garden is increasingly full of skeletons, but not the spooky kind. One of the pleasures of Autumn is the way in which some plants continue to impress with their form and colour; never showy exactly, but comprising subtle effects inviting closer inspection and reappraisal. Taken at the end of Summer 2013, these fennel heads are a case-in-point.
In common with taking endless photographs of sunsets, there is always a danger of confusing your own endless fascination with plants, as expressed through the act of photographing them over and over, with the interests of others in looking at the resulting photographs. I have hard drives crammed with images of plants and flowers, in the garden, in the wild (and a fair few photographs of fields too!), and I’m taking more all the time. I think it’s a bit like giving in to that urge to keep and collect; you glimpse these extraordinary, fleeting expressions of colour, form and texture and you feel a responsibility to capture them forever. Anyway, you’ll have to indulge me, for here are two images of an astrantia, or masterwort, photographed who knows when, or indeed where. I do recall they are digital scans from negatives, so taken on my old school camera ‘back in the day’. I liked the drama of these images, which is funny and a bit improbable, considering the otherwise papery pinks and greens of this subtle low-maintenance perennial.
Not sure where or when these were taken, but who can can resist the simple charms of the marigold? Not me.
A last hurrah of froth from Fox’s Cross.
A second trip to the big open field at Fox’s Cross, bordered on all sides by hedges of Blackthorn, their branches mustardy with lichen, and their blossom, just going over, capturing pinks, creams, beige and baby-blues in the dipping of the sunlight. As an accompaniment to the taking of these photographs, two skylarks hovered over the middle of the field, singing their respective hearts out.
I don’t know when these photographs were taken, or which particular type of euphorbia it might be, but I was inspired to share them for this week’s Throwback Friday on account of the great lime green clouds of Euphorbia characias growing in wild profusion outside some of the beach-facing houses here in Whitstable. We pass them on our routine late-afternoon loop, a bit otherworldly with their spires of acid-yellow suckers (I always think of the Zygons), and yet naturalistic and ‘just right’ too.
On Tuesday, we went out in the late evening sunshine, which was pinkish and crystal-clean, to check out a particular field bordered by great long hedges of flowering blackthorn, and what a show of froth – our visit there accompanied by the cheerfulness of a loud, unseen robin.
As the temperature continues to drop, I’m hankering after a blast of Summer heat and colour. Yesterday afternoon, the falling snow went from quick, dry powder to lilting goose feathers, and our small garden was transformed. I took the photograph below from our kitchen door, snowflakes settling on the toes of my woollen socks. Beautiful though it certainly was out there, I couldn’t help but fast-forward the scene before me. The snow has buried the snowdrops and the hellebores, but strange to think all that saturated summer colour is buried out there too, embers, already stirring under the frozen earth.
Whitstable garden, February 10th, 2021
What I enjoyed about the most recent Kick-About prompt was the way Leger’s painting encouraged immediacy and directness – a sort of ‘first pass, job done’ flourish that meant lingering too long on any subject wasn’t quite the ticket. I also appreciated a chance to occupy a more domestic space – nothing metaphysical to see here, ladies and gents! Our kitchen is stuffed full of house plants – I look at them many times a day, every day. They are as part of the fixtures and fittings of our kitchen as the cutlery and plates. With this in mind, I wanted to make them the subject of my offering this week, and also to try a new technique first brought to my attention by fellow kick-abouter, Charly Skilling – drawing onto ceramic tiles with Sharpie markers, and then spritzing the drawings with alcohol to encourage them to bleed and soften to pleasingly impressionist effect. To be honest, I worked up these studies super-fast and without any fuss or forethought and just really enjoyed what the process itself was giving back. Given the knock-about informality of the technique, it amused me a bit to dial-up the formality with some tasteful frames, imagining these ill-disciplined little drawings on the walls of some tasteful interior.
Up-close, there’s so much activity and texture in these tiny unstable explosions of colour and subject, I couldn’t resist abstracting everything a little further.
My last visit to Boughton Scrub was back in July, and it was a riot of Summer froth and cockerel colours. Yesterday evening, with the sun already setting, this same stretch of unbothered grassland presented much softer effects, white balls of fluff from the still-flowering field of blue-lilac Phacelia tanacetifolia puffing past me like snowflakes. The breeze was very cool and strong, so at no point were the swathes of grass, thistle and rumex perpendicular or still. Everything everywhere billowed, producing dabs of pastel smoke and throwing up welcome daubs of gold from rogue sunflowers nodding in the wind. Again, the range of colour, texture and movement in this one small patch of ground was astonishing. More images to follow over the coming days.