More normally, I’d likely be in rural France now, but as everyone appreciates, 2020 is about ‘new normals’ and cutting our cloth accordingly. The old French house is pressed very deeply into the nature that surrounds it. It can even be difficult to relax at times because there’s always so much at which to look and to respond. One year (I don’t recall which) I stuffed a few packets of ‘sun paper’ into my luggage and spent a few happy hours producing quick-and-dirty cyanotypes from some of the more distinctive leaf and flower shapes culled from my immediate surroundings. I never tired of it, the pleasure of the immediacy of image-making in this way, and always, that perfect blue.
One last look at the vibrant plumage of Boughton Scrub, as the sun lowered and the time came finally to take our leave of this secret garden.
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.
A further rush of gauzy photographs from that plushly upholstered meadow of flowering grasses.
Another evening walk, another glorious meadow, another glut of painterly photographs! Is it art or are they just 5000 piece jigsaws-in-waiting? What’s ultimately disappointing about these images, their billowing impressionist effects aside, is they can’t truly describe the way the breeze was running across the meadow, making puffs of powder paint out of all the red, yellow, silver and purple grass. It was another moment of magic out there.
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.