Saturday, May 23, 2015

Eagles, doves and aquilegias

click photo to enlarge
Sitting in an audience at a lecture about gardening the other evening I heard the speaker describe, aquilegias as "promiscuous". He wasn't, of course, referring to their morals, but to their habit of freely seeding and hybridising, producing offspring of many colours and tints.

I really prefer the name columbines for this plant. However, when talking to other gardeners about it you usually have to add "I mean aquilegias", and so I've come to use the Latin name. This derives from aquila meaning eagle and comes from the shape of the flower petals which were thought to resemble that bird's claw. Columbine comes from the Latin columba, meaning dove. This name is based on the resemblance of the hanging flower head to five doves with their bills touching at the top. It's interesting to note that the two most popular names for this plant relate to the polar opposites of the bird world, the war-like eagle and the peaceful dove. It doesn't end there, of course, because a common, colloquial English name for the plant is "Granny's Bonnet". But that's not something I'm going to delve into.

May is the month for this plant in England and I recently took the opportunity to photograph some of the examples that flower in our garden. When I came to look at my results on the computer I particularly liked the out of focus areas and decided to enhancing these with a blurred, lightened vignette. It's not my usual style but I'm not entirely displeased by the outcome.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Olympus E-M10
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 66mm (132mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/125 sec
Exposure Compensation: -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On