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Jill's Jots

That time of year

You know how it is, it is the middle of June and everything needs doing, always seems the same at this time of year. So we all rush madly round trying to achieve the impossible, be it getting a garden ready for a NGS opening or whatever. But STOP and THINK - take time to sit, time to dream, time to look and I actually mean look, not just to glance but notice the detail, for if you don't you are missing some real treats. I did just this the other evening; it was one of those times when it was too warm to think about dashing so I didn't feel too bad about looking. A goodly number of things caught my eye, too many to include and I must admit that quite a bit of the time was spent sitting, dreaming and just enjoying the bird song.

Have you ever noticed the detail on Delphinium requienii flowers? This is the annual delphinium that seems very robust with shiny foliage which must taste horrible because the slugs don't touch it. The foliage is a real bonus in itself, and as you would expect the flowers form a tall spike, adding a very dramatic and unexpected accent to borders. I just allow them to self sow and pull out any not wanted, but to be honest not many get pulled out! But the individual flowers are really a masterpiece in themselves.

 Delphinium requienii  Thalictrum aguilegiifolium

Buds are a never ending source of delight, poppies in particular, especially just as they start to burst open, giving that hint of the scrumptiousness that will follow: the tiny hairs that almost glisten as the light catches them. The delicateness of the petals, as many folk have said are like tissue paper but to me they are more like very fine delicate petticoats, now I wonder where that association of ideas came from? Thalictrum aguilegiifolium is a more miniature burst but still delightful if one has looked carefully. How on earth do so many petals come out unharmed from such a tiny bud? Picking a small posy for the table is often an easier way of sharpening those observation skills - as the very act of combining flowers makes you look, consider and notice the detail and of course they are then on view at a much closer range. I am sure that flower arrangers have a much improved ability to observe, much as artists have. The artist Georgia O'Keeffe took the view that we all miss so much of a flower hence why she chose to paint on such a large scale, like looking through a giant microscope. To quote her: Nobody really sees a flower - really - it is so small - we haven't the time - and to see takes time . Time is the commodity these days which always seems in short supply, but even a little time actually looking can be so rewarding, and somehow gives a sense of inner peace - well to me anyhow!

 Papaver orientale - Oriental Poppy  chess piece

But it was not just flowers that captured me that evening, the chance of a leaf skeleton falling onto a Ligularia leaf must be slim, but somehow it happened and the contrast between the old and the new struck me, the robustness and the delicateness all fleetingly captured together. Light coming through foliage, especially when the sun is lower in the sky can give some very dramatic effects and alters the perspective greatly. Through grasses in particular and when you are placing them in the garden it is an important aspect to consider, they do need to be backlit, especially for those autumn evenings. My favourite must be Stipa gigantea, not only because it captures the evening light so magically but also for its very presence in the garden, airy yet definite if you can have the two together. How many times have I walked past my chess piece and maybe admired the shape of the sculpture but never noticed the pattern of the lichen - of course I may be showing my ignorance, it may not be lichen at all, but whatever I enjoyed it! But look carefully, is that a pattern on the concrete or a moth having his day-time snooze. Would I have noticed if I hadn't looked? Evening light is often softer and the effect is so different, the patterns on my bottle glass vase in that light will also be an inspiration for some further art work - once time allows....

 chess piece close-up with moth leaf skeleton on Ligularia

So much more to see but the evening drew to a close and besides it was time for supper!