Street plant

street plant - wIt’s always a pleasure to see a plant establishing a root-hold in an unexpected place.


White hydrangea

hydrangea - w
Yesterday my neighbour told me that the hydrangea bush which adorns one corner of my front garden was there when she and her husband moved into their house 52 years ago. I think that deserves a celebratory portrait.

I call it a white hydrangea, but the young flowers are bright lime green, opening to dazzling whiteness and changing in late summer to dusty green and pink. Or pink and green, depending on the weather. In a good season the coloured mop heads are huge and dry well for winter decorations.

This year, I think the rain will probably spoil the flowers somewhat. But there will be more next year and every year until, after I’m gone, someone decides to destroy the garden to make car-parking spaces. I must take cuttings sometime…

Bee breakfast

poppy and bee - w (1)Each morning the newly opened poppy flowers buzz with an ecstasy of happy bees and, weather permitting, I attempt to photograph them. Although the bees seem to be entirely focused on their frenzied gathering, some kind of bee radar tells them if I move the camera a millimeter too close and they whir away.

This is my best shot so far, but it feels a bit flat and doesn’t really convey the busy “must get the harvest in as quickly as possible” feeling I sense as I watch the foragers at work. Still, while the poppies keep flowering and the bees keep visiting, I expect I’ll keep trying to get a better image.

Worthing’s seedy side

derelict building - w

“Seediness has a very deep appeal… It seems to satisfy, temporarily, the sense of nostalgia for something lost; it seems to represent a stage further back.”

Graham Greene Journey Without Maps

Yes. This scene looks like the 1970s to me. A shit-heap of a decade in many ways, but nothing looks too bad from inside a strong young body.

Stag beetle

stag beetle (female - w
It’s lucky for this female stag beetle that I’m an untidy gardener. It’s a mystery how she got in there, but the rustling of the old dry leaves as she tried to escape from a long unused terracotta pot caught my attention last night. I was thrilled to see her as I’ve only seen one (male) stag beetle before.

After taking some pictures I liberated the beetle onto the lawn near some shrubs. I tucked some old bits of untreated wood under the bushes for her future offspring to feed on. Well, you can but hope.

stag beetle and coin - wIn case you’ve never seen a stag beetle here’s Ms Beetle next to a 50p coin to give you an idea of how big they are. I measured her as a little under 4cm long.

Stag beetles are a protected species in the UK and I reported my find to the People’s Trust for Endangered Species and Sussex Wildlife Trust.

Fledgling jackdaw

fledgling jackdaw watermarked
First flying lessons didn’t go too well today and this little fellow ended up in my garden. The first I knew about it was the furious flapping and squawking of the parents as they advised my cat to bugger off and leave their baby alone. I shut Pol in the house and gave the birds for a few minutes to sort themselves out.

When all was quiet again, I went out to see whether the fledgling was still on the ground. It was and I spooked the poor thing again, but it need to be up and away before another cat or one of the foxes got it. It flew the length of the garden and landed on the tatty old parasol I use to shade the back door in summer.

The parents and its sibling soon reappeared to yell encouragement and after a few moments it soared off again. Still flying low, but more confidently over half a dozen gardens towards a row of trees. I was much relieved.

The background isn’t very pretty, but I doubt I’ll ever get another chance to photograph such a young jackdaw. I’ve never even seen one before, although the jackdaws have been nesting in the same place for five or six years. It looks heartrendingly vulnerable, doesn’t it?