Monday, July 06, 2009

Wild flower gardens

click photo to enlarge
Q.When is wild flower a weed?
A.When it's growing in your garden, or among the farm crops.

All of the flowers that we grow in our gardens have been developed from wild flowers. Some, for example pelargoniums, roses, tulips and fuchsias, have been bred to the point where there are varieties that are very different from the original stock. Others, such as the primrose and bluebell are often barely distinguishable from their wild forebears. And, whilst it is true to say that some cultivars are more handsome than the plants they are descended from, more often, in my view, the wild original has a more delicate, subtle beauty.

When plant breeders develop their strains they are often looking for bigger, more numerous and showier blooms, in colours that are unusual, and that last longer. They have been very successful in their endeavours, achieving all those goals, and offering the gardener "more bang for their buck" in flowering plants. But, in so doing they have frequently lost some of the qualities that first drew people to those plants in the first place. Delicate colours, simple flower heads, translucent petals, an unaffected innocence, are too frequently replaced by opulent, urbane sophistication. Perhaps that's one of the reasons why, in recent years, people have created wild flower gardens: they are seeking to recapture some of those qualities that have been lost.

In the Lincolnshire village where I live a neighbour has recently established a wild flower garden on a wide area of grass verge. The plot lies by the side of the road with a stream on one side and a medieval church on the other. In four short months, with only a little help, she has turned a piece of grass that had a few common wild plants growing in it, into a lovely, colour-flecked area that offers a visual delight to all who pass by. The other day, after I'd been to the post office with a letter, I doubled back to photograph the poppies, cornflowers, yarrow and all the other wild flowers that now grow there. Here's one of the images that I took.

Addendum: Internet Explorer is a real pain. I have three browsers on my computer and IE8 is the odd one out when it comes to text wrapping round the images. Today, to stop it filling the right side of the picture with words split into one or two letters per line (the other browsers fit words into the space), I've had to centre the image. Not a big problem you might think. No, but one that shouldn't exist. It seems Microsoft is still going its own way and refusing to confirm to WWW standards.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 64mm (128mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/160 seconds
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On