Painshill revisited

Cobham, Surrey

f/11, 2.5″, 16mm, ISO 50

This day last year, I was at Painshill Park, in Cobham, Surrey, a restored eighteenth century landscape garden.

Painshill Park, Cobham

f/5, 1/40, 35mm, ISO 400

One of Painshill’s famous follies, the Gothic Temple, is seen above, reflected in one of the arches of the bridge. Below, another folly, the Ruined Abbey is situated picturesquely on the bank of the lake.

Cobham, Surrey

f/10, 1/250, 33mm, ISO 200

The image below is the only one I shared at the time.  Another folly appears with the Gothic Temple, the Chinese Bridge.

Cobham, Surrey

f/11, 2.5″, 16mm, ISO 50

Painshill’s working vineyard produces a nice sparkling white.

Cobham, Surrey

f/11, 0.3″, 16mm, ISO 50

Seen below, the Turkish Tent is another of Painshill’s follies.

For the techies, I used a .6 ND hard grad for these shots, and a circular polariser, of course. I have written several other posts about this favourite location of mine. Just click on the tags, Painshill or Painshill Park to find them.

folly at Painshill Park

f/11, 2.5″, 28mm, ISO 50

Witch Hazel

flower

365/17

Taken on this day last year, a close up of witch hazel blossom.  Hamamelis is a super shrub/small tree that flowers in January – March, depending on the variety.  I love the waxy petals, like orange peel.  They make hamamelis a very useful plant for adding winter colour to the garden. But the best thing of all is their spicy scent.

Fields of scarlet

wild flowers

A week ago, I heard via my shooting buddy, Jen that there was a field of wild poppies on the South Downs, about an hour and a half away from here.  The trip was more than rewarded. Perched high up on the South Downs overlooking the Solent, the poppies basked in the evening sun. We stood in that field for more than three hours and it felt like minutes.

West Sussex

We have a few varieties of field poppies in this country.  Poppy fields that spring up on fallow ground tend mostly to comprise the common poppy, papaver rheas.  The prickly poppy, papaver argemone, has smaller flowers and prefers lighter, sandy soils.  The rough poppy, papaver hybridum, is rarer, but its habitat is the chalky soils of the South Downs.  I must confess that I didn’t inspect the individual flowers very closely but looking at my pictures, the poppies we stood among were mostly common poppies.

poppy field

An individual poppy flower lasts only one day but a single plant can produce as many as 400 flowers.  That’s a lot of poppies.  I would guess ‘our’ field was only about half way through its flowering life – there were plenty of seed heads but also plenty of buds yet to open.

Poppy field 3

Another name for the common poppy is the corn rose. Ceres, the Roman goddess of corn was depicted wearing a wreath of common poppies. Poppies used to be a common sight in cornfields but selective herbicides and other modern farming practices have made this rarer. They do still pop up on land left fallow, but not in the same place two years running, which keeps landscape photographers on their toes!

West Sussex

Of course, this year the poppy is very topical, with the WW1 centenary.  These tough little plants, whose seeds needs rough handling to germinate, became the emblem of remembrance because they grew in such abundance on the disturbed soil of the battlefields.  I must confess, however, that standing surrounded by the flowers as they nodded gently in the evening breeze, war and death couldn’t have been further from my mind.

Poppy field 2

Mad Patsy said, he said to me,
That every morning he could see
An angel walking on the sky;
Across the sunny skies of morn
He threw great handfuls far and nigh
Of poppy seed among the corn;
And then, he said, the angels run
To see the poppies in the sun.

 

A poppy is a devil weed,
I said to him – he disagreed;
He said the devil had no hand
In spreading flowers tall and fair
Through corn and rye and meadow land,
by garth and barrow everywhere:
The devil has not any flower,
But only money in his power.

 

And then he stretched out in the sun
And rolled upon his back for fun:
He kicked his legs and roared for joy
Because the sun was shining down:
He said he was a little boy
And would not work for any clown:
He ran and laughed behind a bee,
And danced for very ecstasy.

 

– James Stephens In the poppy field 

 

Contentment in cherry blossom

Spring macro

 

On Friday afternoon I spent a couple of happy hours rediscovering my macro ‘eye’ by photographing bees on cherry blossom.  The light was bright and unpromising but I found a spot in the shade of a cherry tree where I could capture something of the softness and delicacy of the blossom.  I am not sure who was happier, me or the bustling bees.

Spring at last

Spring flowers

Spring has well and truly arrived.  Birds are feverishly gathering moss for their nests, bees are getting drunk on blossom nectar and daffodils are lighting the roadside verges with sunshine.  I have been getting out with my camera as much as I can rather than spending time indoors at my desk and I am very behind with blogging and replying to comments.  Please bear with me – spring fever will wear off eventually.  In the meantime, this is the first of a series of short posts celebrating the arrival of this most hopeful of seasons.

I know this poem has become cliché, but really it is so beautiful I can’t think of any reason not to enjoy it again, and again.

Daffodils
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed–and gazed–but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

–  William Wordsworth