Sunday, July 08, 2012

Lady's Mantle

click photo to enlarge
Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla mollis) is one of those plants that, once you have it, you need never be without it. It readily spreads from the original clump and is soon spotted, spreading itself around the garden. But it's also one of those plants that people either strongly like or equally strongly dislike. Those who have an aversion to it see only a low growing, leafy, green plant with relatively unspectacular, weed-like, yellow flowers, a perennial that multiplies where it isn't wanted and which becomes somewhat straggly at the end of the season. However, people who favour it admire the palmate shape of the leaves that were once thought to resemble the scalloped mantle once worn around the neck and over the shoulders of women (the Lady is the Virgin Mary). They also appreciate the effective ground cover that it provides and its hardiness. But lovers of the plant most especially like the way that multiple water droplets, looking like liquid mercury, bead on the leaves after rain or a heavy dew.

This latter characteristic happens because of the small, soft hairs that cover the leaves. These beautiful drops of water caught the eye of the medieval alchemists (hence the Latin name) who, it is reputed, judged it the purest form of water and employed it in their attempts to turn base metal into gold. The plant in today's photograph has frequently been dotted with these jewel-like spots of water due to the frequency of rain in Britain this spring and summer. I took my hand-held shot after a particularly heavy downpour, just as the sky brightened for a short period before the onset of the next deluge.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 100mm macro
F No: f8
Shutter Speed: 1/80 sec
ISO: 125
Exposure Compensation:  0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On