Tuesday 24 April 2012

Marsh orchids and other wildflowers

Dom pointed down the valley: ‘That’s full of cloud and mist on autumn mornings. It looks like snowfields.’
   He could have left it there and I would have assumed he was just speaking generally.
   ‘And the garden is full of wild flowers again – the moisture must bring them out,’ he went on.
   ‘How do you know?’
   He barely missed a beat. ‘Rachel and I came up here.’
                                               From The Lantern

Still in the garden with Eve and Dom (see previous post)…actually, it’s not only in autumn but throughout the year: there’s a constant springing of wildflowers in the meadow-like lawns whenever there is rain after a period of dryness.

After spring showers this year, the deep blue meadow clary is already staking its claim. There’s been a carpet of wild grape hyacinth and violet, and much that I can’t identify for certain but that I think includes sea rocket and fumitory or hounds-tongue. The white mop heads of hoary cress have begun their colonisation, along with massed ranks of comfrey and mallow.

Later in spring, if we’re lucky, we’ll find the marsh orchid, a fairly rare plant that I have never seen for myself anywhere else (photo above and below). It pops up holding waxy flowers on a strong straight stem from a most unpromising part of the garden where rubble and damp sandy soil are covered by tough grass.

Wild orchids in Europe are considered great prizes, and quite rightly so, but for me there’s a very similar beauty in a plant that would be considered the lowest of the low: the common stinging nettle, or lamia and its variations. Just look at the delicate petals and butterfly beauty of this one growing on our hillside.

I do love details like this (though I do appreciate that novels shouldn’t be overburdened with them; I’m working on it, honestly…). One of the unexpected pleasures of writing a blog and deciding to take my own photos to illustrate it has been in finding and capturing the images I want.

My camera now comes everywhere with me and even at home, many happy hours are spent wandering around not-quite aimlessly, pointing and shooting, then playing around with the image afterwards. There’s something about the instantaneous creativity that really appeals, when the process of writing and publishing a book is so long and complicated.

And of course, the pictures provide a vibrant reference library to complement the writer’s notebook.


Forest Dream Weaver said...

It's wonderful how digital photography has opened up a new creative avenue for so many of us.
And a different way of seeing!


Yvonne Osborne said...

This is neat how you're posting clips from the novel and matching them up with pictures.

aguja said...

These wild orchids are magnificent in their detail and beauty, Deborah. I am glad that your camera goes with you for both your blog and for your writer's notebook - excellent idea! I use my own photographs to illustrate my books and it is so important to find exactly the right one to work with. Also, I enjoy the concept of words and photographs combining.

Deb said...

Beautiful photos, Deborah. I've never seen a stinging nettle in blossom. They really are gorgeous, especially for such a temperamental plant.

ps - Don't question the muse, yourself. Write it as you see it. It's your story.

Elizabeth Youong said...

I am coming to understand that the creative soul is creative in many areas - not just one. It's gradually becoming who you fully are, who you were meant to be. Thank you for sharing the dynamic photographs Deborah.

Jacqui@FrenchVillageDiaries said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. So glad to have found you as I love a book set in France, so have added The Lantern to my wish list! We too have some lovely wild orchids in our orchard and feel privileged to have them.

Karen Wojcik Berner said...

Gorgeous shots. The older I become, the more I appreciate the complicated beauty of orchids.

Reading Tea Leaves said...

Just beautiful Deborah. Orchid and lamia.

I'm addicted to my macro setting!

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