3 May 2009

It’s amazing what there is to see when you look closely

You can click any of the photos to see a larger version.

My very modest postage stamp of a garden has been a great joy to me since we developed it from scratch. It has filled out and developed over the years into a haven of peace – the place I reward myself with time when I reach some deadline or the end of an especially tricky piece of work. I potter and tinker as I eat my lunch and work outside on every day the weather makes it possible.

I laughingly call it my ‘courtyard garden’. In reality, it started life as a typical yard to a Lancashire cottage – a walled patch of concrete, originally to house the outside facilities – and in more recent times, the bins.

There is a tale attached to the layout of our house and outside areas, which are pretty much back to front. It would be normal practice for houses to face the street and have their back yards on the side of the house furthest from the street, but our house is one of a collection of cottages, all slightly different, that housed the workers of the adjacent mill. Mine, the largest and end of a short row, is reputed to be the mill manager’s cottage. My yard and back door are on the street side and my ‘front’ door on what is the gable end.

When they were built, the owner of ‘our’ mill was in some sort of feud with the owner of an adjacent mill, who owned a very large domestic property of some status (in recent times it has been a nursing home) along from the row of mill workers’ cottages. In order to cause him maximum offence, our mill owner built the properties back to front, to ensure that the outside facilities and less attractive aspect of the houses faced the road, so that as his rival drove past to his large luxurious home in his carriage, he had to pass the back of the workers’ homes, offending his sensibilities.

Our cottage is a long thin stone built property of about 140 years old now. So the yard is long and thin too. We have our proper garden on the other side of the house, but the layout doesn’t make it as suitable to occupy, so I leave that as my bird garden – one to be viewed from inside and enjoyed through windows and my courtyard garden is the one we spend time in. Being fully walled it gives us more privacy and is a sheltered sun trap that has allowed it to thrive.

Due to unfortunate domestic circumstances, I’m not going to be able to spend any money on summer planting this year, or at least only the barest minimum. So I decided today to make the best of what we already have.

I’ve always kept a lot of evergreen plants and perennial greenery to supplement annual flowers, which ensures that it looks good and has interest all year. Which will come into its own this season when I can’t do so much summer planting. So we moved things around to fill gaps and re-potted things and gave it a good tidy and I was pretty happy with the results.

It’s at that exciting time when everything is waking up after winter and even supposedly ‘green’ shrubs develop little flowers and new growth races away. I took some photos – most of these below are of very small areas of growth, tiny little flowers at the end of shoots – some only a few millimeters in diameter. This is why I love taking photos of little things – you get to see detail that you just don’t see with the naked eye.

I was astonished to see that this little flower at the end of a growing shoot actually has striped petals on the back – why does nature bother to give it this detail?

4 thoughts on “It’s amazing what there is to see when you look closely

  1. @ Caroline – that was why I took the photo, while it still looks perfect, I don’t expect it to stay that way for long, those leaves have only emerged this week. My big problem is snails, they can lay my garden to waste in short order.

    A garlic solution sprayed over leaves is supposed to put them off as is copper round the pot, they don’t like going over it, it chemically does something with their slime. So I have some copper wire I’m going to wrap around the vulnerable pots.

    Snails mountaineer too – my habit was to pluck them off and throw them outside the 6′ wall, but when I had a couple with distinctive shells, I noticed that I re-captured the same ones every night, they were actually making it over the wall back in. So it was no more Mr Nice Guy!

  2. Those are all such beautiful pics. Especially the strawberry flower!
    But boo – you have to tell me – HOW do you get to grow hostas?

    I can’t even think about planting them out and even when I’ve tried them in pots on top of a brick wall, the supermountaineering slugs still get up there!


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