Until July 2017, documenting the seasons of coastal Dorset. I'm a complete amateur so don't trust I'm always right. If ever you see I'm wrong - whether with identifications or in anything else - do say! Meanwhile . . . I've now moved to Halifax in West Yorkshire. Click on the link below to collect the new URL. Don't forget to follow there!

Saturday, 3 July 2010


Here's a walk from June 30th. 

If something in the distance takes my interest, I'm generally drawn forward to look closer . . . and closer . . . and closer. I expect it's the same for all of us. Added to that, one of the specially nice things about having a camera is that one can take a photo of leaves and seeds far too high to see otherwise but the detail is in the picture and can be zoomed in on at home.

People with tripods can use their cameras more like telescopes - but I don't have a tripod. Recently, when I phoned round the shops for advice about what camera to buy, one man told me I wouldn't be able to take photos of leaves without a tripod.

"I can," I said. "I do."

But he was strangely persistent.

"Not only will your photos be without detail, you won't be able to find the same plant again unless you leave the tripod in place, ready to come back to when you want to see how the plant has grown."

"I will," I said. "I do."

"You need a tripod," he said.

"I take photos of the undersides of leaves," I said. "And a tripod wouldn't fit under a mushroom."

I imagined buying a fleet of tripods and leaving one beside every interesting tree and plant in the area.  I imagined all the children in Dorset running round with my tripods or trying to sit on them.

"You'll also need to go on a course if you are to take pictures of leaves," he said. "There's a woman who runs classes in nature photography. She's very good. I think she's living in the North of Scotland now."

I live in the South of England; almost as far south in England as it is possible to go.

How excellent would I have to prove my photography to be before he'd consider me worthy to own a camera? If I went to his shop, would I have to take examples of my work, certificates of courses undertaken and passed before he'd let me near his shelves? Is there no room in the world for beginners?

I didn't buy anything from him - not even a tripod. If ever I find myself near his shop, I'll creep by it in silence in case he recognises my voice and chases me down the street shouting 

"Life cannot be sweet without a TRIPOD."

* * * * *
A few days ago, I went for a tripod-free walk.

(Don't think I'm anti-tripod. Don't be indignant if, one day, I buy one. But I won't wait idle in the meantime!)

Dying, yellowing Ground Elder dominated the sides of the path - and Convolvulus covered the hedges in bright, white splodges. I'm sad to see the Ground Elder go but the foliage will drop and we'll be left with magnificent seed heads topping lovely, solid, pink and green striped stems.

(I'll do a separate Ground Elder post soon.)
* * * * *

Loose and Leafy is, inadvertently, devoted to the unwanted and this post almost sums up its ethos. Gardeners are brave to come here. It must give them the heebie-jeebies to see Ground Elder praised. Which readers can see Bindweed without ripping it out? Blackberry will strangle a garden, straddle its acres and keep going till it reaches a road or the sea. (Not that a road will stop Blackberry bushes for long. Seeds!)
* * * * *

When a visiting relative saw a small sycamore tree in a pot, she said "You'll want to get rid of that!" Why? Because the woods are full of them and they spring up in gardens and get in the way? But look at the seeds! Most people in England, even in towns, know sycamores for the little helicopter seeds which spin down in autumn. And they enjoy throwing them up into the air to see them spin again. But how many people look up to notice the seeds as they ripen?

Having said that. I suspect this is a Maple. Near enough! When I go back, I'll see if any of the leaves are reachable so I can pluck one. My way of distinguishing between Sycamore and a Maple is that the sap of a Sycamore leaf stem is like most green, liquid sap whereas the sap of a Maple is milky. (But, always remember, this is an in-expert speaking. My system might be twaddle. If anyone knows - tell me!)


Monica the Garden Faerie said...

I hate lugging stuff around so much, my camera choice was based on what is the smallest camera I can get that still lets me override some auto settings? :) About deserving, I'm very much into simple gifts. I meant I deserve things others take for granted, already have, not monetary things, like family and love. I think everyone deserves those. :)

Victoria said...

I have a secret affection for bindweed. I don't like it in my garden because there's enough to do without having to untangle bindweed from every single stem of bamboo.
But I love to see it growing wild. When I was little, I liked to smell the flowers, not because they have any scent but because you could sort of suck them over your nose.
Your pictures of the flowers with the blackberries are bee-yootiful.

Kari Lønning said...

There is a middle ground re: the tripod ... a mono-pod.
I love that I can get on the ground with it, or extend it all the way up and brace it when necessary.

elizabethm said...

I love your photos even though, as a gardener, I was a bit twitchy about the bindweed photo. It is the bane of my life that stuff, beautiful or no.
And what is it about men who know stuff and want to tell you?

Pat Tillett said...

nice shots and narrative Lucy! You know much more about the natural world than I do...so thanks for the info!

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

Breaking all the rules again, 'eh? I have a tripod, but I rarely use it except when trying to steady my zoom lens to catch birds. I don't have time for a tripod, and it's gangly.

I'm glad you didn't buy from him. He didn't deserve you.~~Dee

leavesnbloom said...

I have a tripod Lucy and rarely use it.

I did see in the pound shop a few weeks ago this tiny tripod that sits about 6 inches off the ground but I think "you get what you pay for" - nice idea , easy to fit in your bag but I don't think it could take the weight of my camera. I wouldn't mind looking out for a sturdier one of that size in the future. Also by the time I would have set up the tripod the image I would want to capture would have gone. That gadget man doesn't deserve a sale.

We have bindweed just like this up the road from us - I love it ( as long as it isn't in my garden!) and the meadowsweet sits in huge clumps next to it and across the road from the bindweed is a huge drift of rosebay willowherb and then honeysuckle stretching for metres. Oh how I love to walk along there and watch the ringlet butterflies. I noticed today that our blackberries are starting to change colours.

Anonymous said...

Just stumbled upon your blog. I adore Dorset so I will be looking forward to your posts in the future. I am having a holiday there next month so I will be doing some posts from Dorset myself. All the best.

Lucy said...

Hello Monica.

I think I divide things into 'Rights' and 'Things we Deserve' in a way which overlaps with your meanings so it's simply a difference in the way we use words.

'Human Rights' is just as awkward. Children have, for example, a right to education but that doesn't mean they all get it. Ditto a secure family life.

I think I want to hang on to my use of 'deserve' because there are times when people seem to deserve something in particular (not necessarily a good thing!) whereas there are other things that everyone should have by virtue of being a human not by their own virtue, or lack of it.

Apologies to other readers. This is a conversation which is ambling between here and a post on Monica's post 'Let it Burn'. I can't get to it at present to give a link but you can find her 'Garden Faerie's Musings' in my sidebar.


Lucy said...

Hello Victoria,

Sorry to take so long in replying.

I'm glad you like the photo with the blackberries. (More blackberries on next post - but not bindweed.)

When I was little, I used to like to pick convolvulus flowers and make them pop out of their green bits by pressing the base.

(Sorry about the lack of technical language here!)


Lucy said...

Everyone - this is the link to Monica's post.


Thanks, Monica, for responding with it so quickly.


Lucy said...

Hello Kari.

One of the ways I enjoy taking photographs is to have the camera in my bag and to reach for it when I see something special. Having a tri (or mono!)pod with me would mean I had gone out to take photos rather than let the photos grab me when I am out.

Having said that, I have started going out with the intention of taking a photo of one particular kind of plant, taking masses, then thinning them down to the ones I like best. When I say 'started' I only began this two days ago so I don't know whether I will take to such a method. However, if I do, maybe that is when I'll start thinking about a 'pod'.

Unfortunately, though, leaves move in the breeze. If a picture is blurred, it's not usually down to handshake and the lack of a 'pod' but to the wind. If there's a gadget that can restrain the wind . . . I'd be glad of one of them!


Lucy said...

Elizabeth M . . . at first, your comment brought me up short . . . why, indeed, is it always men who decide they know better than us what we want? I had in mind the men in our DIY shop. It's dreadful, one really has to stand one's ground to come away with what one went in for. Then I thought of the women in our local sewing shops. If I ask a question about what material to use . . . gosh, they are superior!


Lucy said...

Pat - I don't actually know very much about the natural world. I take photos of all sorts of plants but haven't the faintest idea what many of them are called . . . I just don't let that stop me enjoying them.


Lucy said...

Hello Dee.

It's odd how angry I feel whenever I think about that phone call! It should have been recorded for training purposes - how to make sure a customer never comes near a shop, let alone buy anything there!

About the tripod . . . one of the reasons I don't use one, I'm ashamed to say, is that it would make me feel even more self-conscious than I do already. I would feel like a fraud. It's as if only 'professionals' are properly allowed to use them.

Idiot that I am!


Lucy said...

Hello Leavesnbloom.

I'd not heard of Ringlet Butterflies so I looked them up on Google Images.

Glad you share my delight in Bindweed. I'm surprised we don't have much Rose-Bay Willow Herb round here because we have masses of Buddleia and I'd have expected them to grow in roughly the same kinds of places. Maybe there's so much undergrowth, it can't compete. Honeysuckle - we have lots of that and I think it's a wonderful flower. In one patch, there's a highly scented honeysuckle which carries on blooming long after the others. It has glossier leaves than most and I suspect it to be a garden escapee. Still nice to have around though.

The six-inch-from-the-ground tripod. How would you look through the camera?


Lucy said...

Hello Naturalicious.

I'm sure you will have a wonderful holiday in Dorset . . . we've had no appreciable rain in our part of Dorset for a long time so I hope it isn't saving itself for your arrival!

When you publish your Dorset posts, I'd be glad if you let me know so I make sure not to miss them.


Rosey said...

We used to open up the seed pods and stick them to our noses. A major source of entertainment for kids without Ipods.