Saturday, July 12, 2014

Ornamental yarrow

click photo to enlarge
The native Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), familiar from roadside verges and meadows in England, has several names. Milfoil means "thousand leaves" as does its Latin specific name. It was also known as Yarroway, Staunch Weed (for its capacity to staunch or stop bleeding), and Poor Man's Pepper (for its bitter and pungent taste). The Anglo-Saxons used it for these purposes but also for divination and as a charm against illness or bad luck.

Yarrow can be easily overlooked by the casual observer, following as it does, the Cow Parsley and Sweet Cicely, and surrounded by other white flowered umbellifers such as Fool's Parsley and Wild Angelica. However, its flat flower heads, once identified, are easy to spot and give it a delicacy that its similar brethren lack. It is usually white, but sometimes plants have a pink or brown tinge.

The other day I photographed a cultivated, ornamental variety of Yarrow that I initially thought was Achillea "Fire King" or "Coral Beauty". But it turned out to be one I'd not seen before, "Achillea "Feuerland". Its colour, not perfectly represented in my photograph, is red/orange. The characteristic that I particularly liked was the clustering of different, subtle shades produced by flower heads of different ages - again, not seen in my image as I saw it with my eye. This variety is one I'll look out for when we are shopping for plants.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Canon 5D2
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 80mm
F No: f8
Shutter Speed: 1/320
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -0.67 EV
Image Stabilisation: On