Just recently I have had what I tend to call photographer’s block. Similar to the writing kind, but with a camera. A big part of it is knowing that all my big holidays are done for the year. I can’t really complain, 2 weeks in Australia should be enough for anyone in one year, but a year that I don’t visit Africa is always a little bleaker than the rest. And that attitude was permeating everything I looked at through my camera lens. Nothing was inspiring me to take photos, nothing seemed new or interesting enough to photograph without creating a cliché, and I was having a bit of a sulk.
So this last week, I gave myself a metaphorical kick up the backside, remembered other times I had not had the luxury of travel to stimulate my photography, and ventured into the garden. Our garden is definitely still a work in progress. But this year there are at least some pretty flowers in the flowerbeds. These orange poppies were a donation from my mother-in-law. They proliferate with alarming speed in her garden, and I will be more than happy if they choose to do the same in mine.
The ‘Sunset Superbowl’ wallflower was what I would call an absolute bargain for £3.99. The flowers start out a deep yellow, and progress through a dusky sort of orange to purple. It is perennial, so it will be back again next year, with its most delightful of colour-clashes. It is filling an otherwise dull and muddy spot in my flowerbed, and flourishing, so I can only think it money well spent.
Having got into my stride with the pretty flowers, I decided to go all arty with my miniature Scots pine. It is only miniature because I am keeping it in a pot, and no matter how tempting I will not be planting it out. This is because it was originally a stowaway in a gifted pot of daffodil bulbs (also from my mother-in-law), and I have seen the size of the pines around her garden. If I plant this one out, alongside the 200-year-old oak and the other trees I couldn’t resist planting, I am in danger of creating of a small forest in the housing estate.
Finishing my amble around the garden, with damp knees from the contortions I required to compose my photos from the appropriate angle, I came to the saxifrages. These were from what I like to call the ‘sad plant shelf’ at B&Q. You’ll know it if you’ve seen it – full of drooping, melancholy things suffering from lack of water, stringy, straggly pot-bound things desperate for fresh soil and space, and brownish, dead-looking things that haven’t been dead-headed for a month. This is where I found my saxifrages, six of them, jammed into a polystyrene egg-carton-type affair, almost white from lack of sunlight, or soil, or something, and selling for the princely sum of 99 pence. Sap that I am, I always feel sorry for these sad plants, rejected by the more robust plant-buying customers of B&Q, and take them home, convinced that I can save them. It doesn’t always pan out for me, but to my delight, the saxifrages were a success story. Each of the six turned a much healthier green colour within 24 hours of being planted, and when they started to flower, I realised that each was a slightly different colour – from a deep burgundy red for one to the palest pinky-white for another. And when I came to photograph one of these tiny flowers, there was an unexpected bonus – a miniscule cricket, bright, almost translucent green, with bold black patterning, just sat in the flower as though waiting for me.