Of Sprites and Wood Nymphs

Giants_head_Heligan Mud_maid_Heligan

It happens sometimes, when nature inspires that figures emerge in sundappled forest glades; those magical places where otherwordly spirits reside.

WPC: Transmogrify

Some time ago thanks to a recommendation by Jude, who inspires through her blog posts on gardens and all things green and flowering, I got to visit the The Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall.  The history of the estate – how it fell into neglect and the story of it’s revival, is inspiring.  The place is imbued with a sense of enchantment and one can linger through different spaces imagining the levels of it’s past.

The moss earth sculptures were created by talented sister and brother duo, Sue and Peter Hill.  The “Giant’s Head” is a creation which was transformed from the massive root stock of old oaks which had been uprooted in the devastating Great Storm of 1990 while ” Mud Maid” was crafted through a purpose-built hollow frame.   She lies enfolded in greenery, sleeping peacefully in a dappled woodland glade.   With a bit of transmogrification one can conjure up midnight scenes of nymphs and sprites awakening to a celebratory dance of woodland delight.





September: Flower Portrait

Jude is calling for flower portraiture this month – capturing the beauty of a single bloom and she kicks off the challenge with the stunningly beautiful Turquoise Ixia (Ixia viridiflora).

It’s worth taking a peek at her blog post as it is quite the most gorgeous colours.  She describes the bloom as having  “one of the rarest and most beautiful colours in the plant world. The satiny purple centres and yellow anthers contrast beautifully with the turquoise petals. This one is flowering in the garden at St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall. It took my breath away when I first saw it.”

I’ve chosen to showcase the strelizia, or as it is commonly known, the Bird of Paradise plant.  They do well in our garden holding up in galeforce wind and they’re popular too in the nectar stakes.  I’ve gone for a different approach dissecting a flower to abstract it’s hidden beauty.   I hope to show up it’s striking form and various colours.  I enjoyed experimenting with different camera techniques – double exposure in camera and ICM; then did a bit of editing using filters.  I look forward to reading comments on the overall effect and hope it’s not all a bit OTT.

Visit Jude’s Garden photography page here  to see further examples of prized blooms.

May: Wild flowers

Aloe_arborescens Metalsia_muricata_Erica_mammosa Oxalis_monophylla


Jude calls for Wild flowers in May; though it’s spring in the northern hemisphere, the autumn months in the Cape also bring a wealth of showy species.  It’s the start of the rainy season and the plants in flower tend to be structural and sturdy like the aloes, sugarbush, red hot pokers.   Varieties of erica are also flowering, and the blombos continues to add it’s piquant fragrance.  Not to be too boastful about our incredible wild flower heritage, the Cape has some 9000 flowering species and falls under the Cape Floristic Region – one of the world’s six floral kingdoms.   It’s a stunning wealth and nowhere else in the world is there such profusion of endemism and concentration of species. How fortunate we are to have so many different species flowering throughout the year.  I’ll be back with more!


April: Macros in the Garden II

Serruria florida_01 Serruria florida_02 Serruria florida_03

Just sneaking in before Jude’s topic for April’s garden challenge comes to an end.  Earlier this month i posted the unopen bud so i’m happy that it blossomed in time to reveal it’s full beauty.  The Serruria protea genus has 55 species and ‘florida’ falls under the Mountain Skirted Spiderheads and this gorgeous specimen is known colloquially as “The Blushing Bride”.   Curiously it is blooming early, it’s season should start from July through to October.  The close-up view shows it’s cunning design – how the flowerhead divides into a headlet of 45- 60 flowers.  Involucral bracts form a base and a ‘skirt’ of  white tipped perianth with long, silky hairs hold the pollen.

The species in the wild is “Critically Endangered”  but it’s popularity as a cut flower promotes it’s cultivation as a bedding plant.  We were fortunate to purchase this one from the Kirstenbosch nursery and it takes pride of place in our garden.

For further information check out the excellent site PlantzAfrica.