Tag Archives: flowers

The Little Marks We Leave

At the time of this post, ten months have passed since my wife died – and there are still (it seems) a million and one ‘things’ of hers that need to be moved on. She liked to collect all manner of ‘things’. Whatever they were, there were (are) always too many of them to fit into our small ‘modern cottage’. Not only were the common areas of the house full-to-bursting, so was the attic too. And only towards the end of her life did she finally stop, sometimes, to ask herself: “Do I really need this?” Or, more often: “Tooty says the loft is full; do I have anywhere to put this?”

I can’t imagine how many items I have passed on to charity since then – but it’s lots. Multiple car-loads. And still it keeps coming. Most of her books are now sitting on complete stranger’s shelves; but a few – the oldest tomes – are still here. This is one of them…

It’s a slim volume that was first published in 1937. This is a later copy from 1949.  At 108 pages it’s hardly exhaustive, and wouldn’t really do as a proper reference book. But the flowers are beautifully drawn and painted, so really it’s an art book. On the inside cover this appears…

Clearly it was gift – from someone I will never meet, to someone else I will never meet (unless in the afterlife). In one of my often melancholy moods this made me feel a little sad. I wondered who these people were, and what happened to them. Then, as I turned the brittle pages – many of which are coming away from the dried-out spine – I found this…

One day, after receiving this gift, the recipient carried this book with (her?) and decided to collect specimens, which (she?) pressed between the relevant pages. Here is a sample of Chicory from rural Britain circa the early 1950s.

And here is some Corn-Cockle…

Lastly comes the Cuckoo Flower…

The absence of any more samples suggests that only one expedition was undertaken. But, perhaps for just one foray into the countryside, this book was precious to it’s owner. Precious enough for it to have survived and pass through any number of hands since that day. It certainly caught my wife’s eye and has survived her. So what do I do with it now? What we leave behind comes in many forms – not all of them with physical properties such as this book. They are little pieces of us: pieces that cannot die. For now I will keep this on my bookshelf. But it (the book) has nothing to do with my wife: she was only ever a custodian. Eventually (through charity shops or auction) I will probably pass it on to someone else that I will never meet: and they will wonder who the two names on the inside cover belonged to, and they will find the pressed flowers. And maybe they will add to them.

Snails Ruin Summer Memorial – Well Almost!

During the Summer of 2020 I was inspired to create a sort of reverse window box that I planned to attach to a wall that faced my sitting room window. I hoped that the flowers within it would brighten the view out through the window, and make the street look colourful and cheery too. I showed it to my (then ailing) wife, and she agreed that it would look very nice. Come Spring we planned to plant some seeds in it; but (if you’re a regular reader of this blog) you’ll know that she never saw the Spring. But I went ahead and did it anyway – as a Summer memorial to her. I selected Scabious and Cornflowers – coz they were her favourites. I added Calafornia Poppies as (what I considered) a perfect visual counterpoint. Well they all germinated – the Scabious and Cornflowers taking the lead role. But, to my horror, they were all destroyed overnight by a gang of marauding snails. Too late I applied the snail pellets. But then, as the endless rains of Summer gave way to a few days of sunshine, this happened…

Linzi’s reverse windowbox lives. And best still, those are late germinating Cornflowers at the far end of the box. Better late than never: success!

Wallpaper 628: Meadow Hunting

Normally my photos struggle to gain ten ‘likes’ on Flickr (after all the standard is terribly high, and there’s some very fancy cameras out there). This one seemed to follow the usual path – until I’d sat myself down to breakfast – to discover that, over night, fifty people had found this nice enough to let me know. Captured the essence of Summertime perhaps?

A Lifeline for Nature

In England many farmers are paid to leave parts of their land fallow for several years, and turn it over to nature. Some go so far as to sow seeds of plants known to be of benefit to endangered species. The results have been very heart-warming to those who give a damn about the creatures that share this land with us. And areas that would otherwise be an uninteresting mono-culture, look like this…

And this…

If we keep this up, who knows, we may yet save the world from ourselves.

Wallpaper 571: Field Scabious in Divine Light

After the funeral of my wife of Thirty-eight years, I decided to spend the following bright and blustery morning looking for one of her favourite wild flowers to photograph. It’s not really the time of the year for the little bloom, but recent excellent late summer weather had me hopeful. So, taking myself to open chalky downland I began my search. There were a few there, but they were scrawny, ill-fed, and barely recognizable. I was about to give up, when a shaft of light suddenly burst through a dense hedgerow – to reveal the very item I sought, waving back and forth in the stiff breeze. Divine light? I like to think so. Look…

 

Photography: How Mauve is Mauve?

From my experience, there are certain colours that digital cameras seem to struggle with. The worst is yellow in bright sunlight. Particularly when shooting shiny flowers. Of the 50+ cameras that I currently keep in the bottom of my wardrobe, only three or four of them can cope at all. Most just flare out. The other problem colour is mauve/purple. I have a Primula in the back garden that not one of my cameras can capture accurately. But that’s another story. We don’t want to talk abject failure here on HamsterBritainDotCom, do we? No, we don’t. I also have a pleasant mauve plant, the name of which eludes me, which comes up every year in a terracotta pot on the patio. And it was to this plant I went when I decided upon  another of my famous comparison tests. Here are the guilty subjects this time…

A 4.0 megapixel Kyocera Finecam 410R. A 9.3 megapixel Ricoh CX2. and a 12 megapixel Kodak EasyShare M550. None of them are even remotely new, but I have been known to snap some quite nice pictures with all three – but never before at the same time. Here are the results of the Mauve Test…

The least mauve camera here is the Kyocera. The medium mauve, you might assume would be the 9.3 mg Ricoh. But you would be wrong. Not unusually it’s the Kodak that lets us down with a half-way-decent effort. And the winner – displaying a picture with remarkable similarity to the actual shade of mauve as seen with these aging eyes, was the Ricoh. And here’s the complete picture in all its glory…

RICOH CX2: Good camera!

In conclusion, it seems that if you want a vibrant, true-to-life shot get a Ricoh. If it’s quick snaps whilst on holiday, the Kodak will do just fine. And if you insist on an ancient Kyocera, do as I do. Just keep it as a curiosity, and maybe bring it out for a walk around the garden once in a while.

Staggered Beauty

Clematis always photographs well. It doesn’t seem to matter what colour or variety; it just looks really nice. Maybe the simplest versions are best. Anyway, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice to follow one bunch, over several days, to record how they change.” I didn’t want them to go past their zenith, so I kept the study brief. I mean, no one likes to see dead flowers, or dropping petals, do they?  No  they don’t. So, may I present Nine Days of the Clematis…

Day One

Day Two

Day Three

Day Six

Day Nine

Note how the accompanying foliage also increased, cutting out a lot of the direct sunlight. Day Ten was grey and overcast. There were no more buds to burst, so I thought I would leave it there. Nice, aren’t they?

 

Photography: Why Auto Isn’t Always the Way Ahead

WARNING: Technobabble-free post!

As you’ve probably ascertained from my earlier posts on the subject of photography, I’m a point-and-shoot merchant. If the picture on the screen looks like the thing I’ve just photographed, I’m happy. Auto is king. But not always. Sometimes you have to fiddle with your knob and twiddle your doo-dah. For example here is the picture of some Michaelmas Daisies that my Sony HX400 decided was true and accurate…

“Pretty,” thought I, “but that’s not what it looks like.”

So I fiddled with my knob. This is the result…

“Close,” I said to the Sony, “but no banana.”

So I twiddled my doo-dah. Here is the result…

This is what the garden just outside my kitchen window actually looks like.

So the moral of this tale is: a photographer should never be afraid to fiddle with his/her knob. And as regards to his/her doo-dah: well it’s just gagging for a good twiddle.

Tooty