Last glow and blush of the summer

The bold beauty of the last of the summer flowers.

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The sting in the tale

In my fantasies, this is the garden of my cottage somewhere near the seaside.

IMGP1098 IMGP1117 IMGP1127 IMGP1149 IMGP1153 IMGP1168Actually, these flowers all grown in the Oxford University Botanic Gardens. When I was still a student, I used to go there all the time, especially in the summers,  sit somewhere for hours reading, enjoying the relative quiet. My heart bled when last summer they knocked down the Tolkien tree, an ancient black pine under which the writer used to sit, tree so big and so old it couldn’t hold its own weight anymore. One of my favourite Botanic Garden memories though is from the bleak midwinter of my first year as a student in Oxford. On a particularly grey, dull January Sunday morning, I walked around the gardens with a friend; the plants were dead and the flower beds empty, not even the snowdrops blooming yet. There was a fog – not a romantic mist, but the sort of damp, cold fog that the English winter so excels at, and we escaped its clutches to the nearest pub, where we sat by the fire, ordered lunch and watched through the windows how sleet started to fall. A day as perfect as it was opposite to this.

IMGP1158 IMGP1179 IMGP1203 IMGP1193 IMGP1210 IMGP1243The flower borders were planted to attract butterflies, but on this day, they were actually full of bees – greedy, fat bees of every kind, drunk of the nectar, heavy with pollen.

And there were perfect vegetables:

IMGP1223 IMGP1230 IMGP1231 IMGP1233 Oh, summer!

All photos were taken with SMC Pentax-M 1:2 50mm lens.

The relentless march of spring

Magdalen Walks

The little white clouds are racing over the sky,
And the fields are strewn with the gold of the flower of March,
The daffodil breaks under foot, and the tasselled larch
Sways and swings as the thrush goes hurrying by.

A delicate odour is borne on the wings of the morning breeze,
The odour of deep wet grass, and of brown new-furrowed earth,
The birds are singing for joy of the Spring’s glad birth,
Hopping from branch to branch on the rocking trees.

And all the woods are alive with the murmur and sound of Spring,
And the rose-bud breaks into pink on the climbing briar,
And the crocus-bed is a quivering moon of fire
Girdled round with the belt of an amethyst ring.

And the plane to the pine-tree is whispering some tale of love
Till it rustles with laughter and tosses its mantle of green,
And the gloom of the wych-elm’s hollow is lit with the iris sheen
Of the burnished rainbow throat and the silver breast of a dove.

See! the lark starts up from his bed in the meadow there,
Breaking the gossamer threads and the nets of dew,
And flashing adown the river, a flame of blue!
The kingfisher flies like an arrow, and wounds the air.

Oscar Wilde

IMGP0006IMGP0019IMGP0134IMGP0139IMGP0232IMGP0299IMGP0235IMGP0278IMGP0298IMGP0309IMGP0328My favourite place in the spring is the Magdalen College park, where Oscar Wilde walked when he wrote this poem, and where I took these photos between February and April.