C is for Clematis

This is my post for the letter C in the revised A to Z challenge.

The clematis of my childhood grew in a small square of earth, surrounded by a very low retaining wall and crazy paving.  It was able to climb the wooden post by the front door of our house.  The flowers were a deep purple.  Each year Mum used to prune it back to about one foot above the ground.  One year the pruning was possibly more severe.  It never grew again.  Later the post was replaced by a storm porch.

Clematis plants like to have their roots in shade, but to be able to grow into sunlight.  Hubby has constructed a frame for our clematis plants on the shady side of our garden.  We have a few different species, but the first to flower and the most prolific is the Montana shown in the picture.  It has the nickname a mile a minute, because its shoots spread so quickly.

Clematis
Clematis

This photo was taken as I was on my way to meet a friend.  I noticed that the sun was shining on it and turned back to find a good spot to capture it.

There have been a number of enthusiastic gardeners in Mum’s family.  Her father grew flowers and vegetables even into old age.  Each generation seems to have at least one gardener.  Since hubby retired I have done less practical gardening, but he asks me for advice about plants and weeds.  A weed is defined as a plant in the wrong place.  Many people would not cultivate the plants we do, although wild flowers are good for the environment.  Not everything thrives here.  Tender plants do not survive in strong winds.  When we arrived a neighbour advised me that you have to work with plants, which will grow, whether not not they are favourites.

Some other plants beginning with C, which grow in our garden are comfrey, cornflower (the perennial one), columbine (also known as aquilegia) and Californian poppy.  I associate the last one with my Grandad, mentioned earlier.  I know many people in the USA would consider it to be a weed, but the flowers are bright and set seed easily.

How do you distinguish between plants and weeds?  Are there gardeners in your family?

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B is for Bluebell

When I signed up for the revised A to Z challenge I had a photograph of a flower for B.  Then I decided to use it under another name for a letter later in the alphabet. You’ll have to wait and see where it appears!

Bluebells
Bluebells

Being in an exposed location in the North of England, our bluebells flower later than those farther south or lower down.  There are wonderful swathes of bluebells mostly in woods in the county where I live.  The first photo I used as a profile picture on Facebook was taken in a bluebell wood.

Not all bluebells are the same.  Here in the UK there are native bluebells and invasive foreigners – in this instance, Spanish ones.  Some bluebells may be pink or white.  That is an oxymoron (or a contradiction in terms).  I was disappointed to learn yesterday, that our garden ones – in the first picture – are Spanish.

Hyacinths are similar to bluebells, but with much bigger blooms.  Planted in the garden, they may flower for many years, but become smaller.  They begin to look more like bluebells.

In my childhood, when car ownership was less usual, people were not able to visit the countryside easily from towns and cities.  Country children and visiting townies used to pick wild flowers.  In Britain this is now illegal.  Picking or digging up wild plants is not allowed in order to protect them from extinction in their natural habitat.  The country code includes “Take nothing but photographs.  Leave nothing but footprints.”

Bluebells were growing in our garden before we lived here.   Wild flowers are propagated by many means.  Birds and animals spread the seeds.  Bluebells go to seed, but they also have bulbs.  Plants with bulbs or corms often produce new ones underground.  Bluebells certainly spread easily.  I usually cut the dead flowers off before the plants use lots of energy making seeds.  The foliage dies back later in the year and is more likely to nourish the bulbs.  In any case dead-heading is a relaxing occupation.

Bluebells in a wild flower garden
Bluebells in a wild flower garden

At present there are other plants in flower beginning with B.  The blackthorn has been flowering for a few weeks.  Later there will be sloes in the hedgerows.  Buttercups are beginning to bloom.  Blossom of all kinds is brightening the view.  Bumble bees and other insects are busy pollinating them.  Bees are fascinating.  We  have had bees living in the garden previously.  They set up house underground.  I wonder whether they’ll return this year.  I know at least one beekeeper and have written about bees in posts on Sue’s Trifles.

My photos are of a clump of bluebells in our garden and some in a more natural setting not far from here.

Do you find the natural world fascinating?  What about creepy-crawlies?

Ephemeral

Having just set up a new blog, I intended my first post after the introductory one to be about the recent eclipse.  While many people enjoyed clear skies on Friday 20th March 2015, many others did not.  The sun did not break through the mist or murk until later in the morning.  Looking on the bright side, there was no chance of damaged eyesight in our immediate locality!

During the eclipse
During the eclipse

Neither mist nor eclipses last.  They could be described as ephemeral, fitting this week’s daily post photography challenge.  My photo was taken close to the darkest moment, while travelling as a passenger along a back lane.  The birds had stopped singing and there was an atmosphere of suspense.  Then as the sky lightened little by little (thick cloud notwithstanding) everything began to return to normal.

Blue skies
Blue skies

People were disappointed at not seeing the eclipse as two or three hours later the day had changed.

 
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