Category Archives: Nature’s Art

Happy Summer Solstice :)

Summer wildflowers for Summer Solstice
Summer wildflowers for Summer Solstice

We might have no Summer sunshine to share with you (at least not here in North East England!) but never fear, here is a Summer meadow filled with the sunshine of flowers for our Summer Solstice celebration.

While I’m sharing my Summer meadow flowers with you, let’s also be thankful for the bees, butterflies, moths, hoverflies and many more pollinating creatures that feed on our wild flowers – and garden flowers – and allow us to enjoy their beauty. Another blogging friend shared in a wonderful post that it has been Pollinator Week this week and she gave some great gardening tips on how we might all do our small bit for our pollinating creatures. You’ll find Woodland Gnome’s post on her Forest Garden Blog.

Happy Summer Solstice 😀

J Peggy Taylor

A woodland wander in search of Wood Avens

There is no better time to enjoy the beauty of our woods than after a spell of Summer rain. The new season’s greenery is washed clean and refreshed. The dark, wet tree trunks contrast strongly with the bright greens of early Summer leaves. The air is laden with the delicious earthy scents of damp woodland, mingled with the fragrance of ‘green’. Did you know you could smell ‘green’? In damp woodlands in June, I am sure you can.

Beechwoods in June after rain
Beechwoods in June after rain

As well as enjoying the woods and their glories generally, on this occasion I was watching out for one particular woodland flower, the Wood Avens Geum urbanum (also known as Herb Bennet). Last week, when I was giving you the answers to my fun plant quiz, I discovered that somehow I did not have any photographs of this very common woodland flower. Hopefully, we would be able to rectify this situation.

Wood Avens growing by woodland path
A bank of Wood Avens growing by a woodland path

Soon after entering the woods, we were spotting Wood Avens growing beside the woodland paths. Their delicate yellow flowers dotted the path-side greenery.

Wood Avens (Herb Bennet)
Wood Avens (Herb Bennet)

Here you can see the Wood Avens plant, nestled in amongst the grasses with its bright yellow flower.

Wood Avens (Herb Bennet) flower
Wood Avens (Herb Bennet) – a closer look at the flower

Here’s a closer look at the Wood Avens flower. The yellow petals are very fragile and look as if they may blow away at any moment.

Wood Avens (Herb Bennet) seedhead
Wood Avens (Herb Bennet) – red hooked seedhead

The Wood Avens flower only lasts a brief time before the red hooked seedhead develops. The seedheads are rather more robust and will stay around across the Summer. The hooks of the ripe seeds would enable them to hitch a ride on a passing animal and so spread the flower seeds further.

Clover leaf raindrop face
Clover leaf raindrop face

Later on our woodland walk, I spotted this little Woodland Spirit resting on a Red Clover leaf. Can you see him too? 🙂

J Peggy Taylor

Spring Shadows for Cee’s Black and White Challenge

02 Spring shadows in black and white
Spring shadows among the trees

As sometimes happens, I was browsing through some images looking for something entirely different when I spotted these two images I took when we were taking one of our regular woodland walks a few weeks ago.

01 Spring shadows in black and white
Spring shadows on the woodland floor

The woods looked beautiful in their new Spring greens but what really struck me was the way the leaves and trees were casting their shadows in the bright afternoon sun. It was quite mesmerising to watch.

Cee has given us an open theme for her Black and White Photo Challenge this week so I thought I’d share my Spring shadows with you.

Do take a look at what others have found for Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge this week.

J Peggy Taylor

Rayon fabric

Celebrating Purple for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge

We’re celebrating purple for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week and purple is one of my very favourite colours. From the shiny rayon fabric of my vintage shirt above, to my favourite flowers, landscapes and vivid Winter sunrises, purple colours my world.

Spring

As Winter turns to Spring, I always look forward to the purple crocuses blooming in my yard. For me, this is a sign that Spring really has sprung.

Crocuses in bloom 2015

Purple and orange - crocuses in early Spring
Purple and orange – crocuses in early Spring

Summer

Last July I wrote a post called “Purple Wildflowers of Summer”. In it I said,

“the colour of Summer for me is definitely purple.”

Summer is when most of our purple wildflowers bloom. We see several members of the thistle family in their varying shades of purple. Thistle flowers are popular with bees, butterflies and other interesting insect-life.

Spear Thistle, or as we call it, the Scotch Thistle
Spear Thistle, or as we call it, the Scotch Thistle
Carder Bee feeding on Common Knapweed
Bee-on-a-flower – a Carder Bee feeding on Common Knapweed

Purple flowers of Summer - Rosebay and Thistle
Small Tortoiseshell at the Nectar Cafe … aka Creeping Thistle. That’s some spikes of Rosebay Willowherb behind too.

And here is more Rosebay Willowherb below …
Purple flowers of Rosebay Willowherb
The Rosebay Willowherb Epilobium angustifolium paints our roadsides, riversides and railway embankments with its purple spikes. As I also noted in my previous Purple Wildflowers post, it was the Rosebay Willowherb that led Sir Edward Salisbury, the 20th century botanist and ecologist, to coin the word “empurpled”, as he described the propensity for this flower to cover London’s World War II bomb sites.

Purple patch of Tufted Vetch growing on the cliff top
Purple patch of Tufted Vetch growing on the cliff top at South Shields Leas

In Summer, whole landscapes become coloured in their own purple hues. Large patches of Tufted Vetch adorn the grassy clifftops along our North East coast. Nearer to home, our valley view across to the North Pennine moorland develops its characteristic purple tinge when the Bell Heather blooms.

Purple heather moors in Summer
When the Bell Heather’s in bloom the moor takes on a purple tinge

Autumn

Autumn is not without its own occasional entrant in the seasons’ celebration of the colour purple. Sometimes we’ll see clusters of this fungus, the Amethyst Deceiver Laccaria amethystea among the leaf litter on the woodland floor.

Amethyst Deceiver fungus in leaf litter
Amethyst Deceiver fungus in leaf litter

Winter

In Winter, the landscape and its inhabitants may be taking their well-earned season of rest, but then it is the sky that puts on its spectacular performance in the celebration of purple. We are often treated to magnificent Winter sunrises in vivid yellows, pinks and purples.

January's lilac sunrise

I hope you have enjoyed my celebration of the colour purple for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week. Please do take a look at what others have found for this week’s theme too.

J Peggy Taylor

Weathered wood - old wooden fence

Weathered Wood for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge

Wood is one of my favourite natural materials and it can always surprise us with its beauty. From seedling trees to decaying logs, for me wood provides a metaphor for the cycle of life. For Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week, we are looking for weathered wood. Weathered wood is often a visual feast as it develops its own individual natural character with unique grain patterns, shapes and textures.

When we walk in our local woodlands we see many tree stumps, fallen trees or logs where the forces of nature and time have left their mark. Along some of our regular paths we have observed the effects of these natural processes on particular stumps and logs over several years. With the gradual effects of decay and weathering, some of our old log ‘seats’ have cracked open to reveal their woody chambers within.

Weathered wood - old tree stump and fungus
An old tree stump with some Sulphur Tuft fungus growing on it

On damp days in early Autumn colourful fungi will sprout from the weathered wood of old tree stumps and logs. The Sulphur Tuft fungus Hyphaloma fasciculare is one of the more common and easily recognisable species that grow on old wood from deciduous trees. Here it is growing on a small Beech stump in one of our favourite beechwoods. We find beechwoods tend to be quite rich in fungi.

Weathered wood - fallen tree
A fallen tree with its remaining stump on the forest floor

This dead tree on the woodland edge was felled by the wind last Spring and now it has developed its own little niche under the holly hedge. The thick grey vines of ivy continue to thrive on the weathered wood of the fallen trunk. On this particular day the late Winter sun was streaming through the trees and lighting up this normally unremarkable spot on the forest floor. I thought it looked quite beautiful and a little magical. You could almost expect The Little Grey Men to suddenly appear from under the fallen tree.

Weathered wood - decaying log
A decaying log

This old tree trunk sits on a steep bankside in a small stretch of ancient woodland within one of our local woods. I love the shapes and patterns that have developed in this old wood and the contrast between rough and smooth. In Autumn this is another old tree trunk that we have previously seen covered in fungi – not the Sulphur Tuft as I showed you earlier, but hundreds of smooth, white Stump Puffballs Lycoperdon pyriforme .

Weathered wood is such a fascinating material. Do take a look at the weathered wood others have found for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week.

J Peggy Taylor

Autumn in the woods

Vote for your European Tree of the Year!

Do you remember back in October I was asking you to vote for England’s Tree of the Year? When all the votes were counted, in December the Major Oak in Nottingham’s Sherwood Forest was crowned as England’s favourite tree.

The Major Oak is now representing England in the 2015 European Tree of the Year contest. Why for England only and not the UK? Don’t worry, Scotland, Ireland and Wales are not missing out here, as each country has chosen its own tree.

Oak trees are my favourite tree, so I am extra pleased it was an oak tree that was chosen to be our Tree of the Year 🙂

The many colours of Oak bark
So many hues, from greens to purples, in this wonderfully textured Oak tree bark

What is the European Tree of the Year contest all about?

“We are not searching for the oldest, the tallest, the biggest, the most beautiful or the rarest of trees. We are searching for the most lovable tree, a tree with a story that can bring the community together.”

Now it is time to vote for our European Tree of the Year, from all of the nominated trees. As well as England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, trees from many countries across Europe are all competing for the European Tree of the Year title.

To see all of the nominated trees and cast your vote, please visit the European Tree of the Year website.

Voting closes on 28th February so please vote this week for your European Tree of the Year.

J Peggy Taylor