I realise it's silly to say this picture has changed my life when I took it only yesterday but it has. It's made me realise something I knew already - which doesn't make sense. Perhaps it's consolidated it, provided such a good example of what I mean, what I think, what's completely fundamental to my life, to my way of seeing things, it's like seeing it, realising it, knowing it again for the first time. Maybe all it is is that I now have an example that I can show you so I can say 'This, this is it. Do you see?'
Here is the picture.
Maybe you should take a moment to guess what it is, or reflect on it if you know its identity straight away.
Groundsel. That's what it is. Groundsel in a kerb. Below is a picture of the same plant.
The top left of the plant is what's shown above. In it you can see that the background is blue because it's in the shadow of a kerb and a garden hedge.
So what is the significance of this picture?
One is that it explains why my posts have become a little erratic. Each week I gather so many hedgerow pictures I find it hard to decide what to put on the blog. I'm not weary of hedgerows. It's that I don't want to weary my readers. After several years of Loose and Leafy, I don't want you to say 'Oh no! Not another hawthorn post!' or 'For heaven's sake, we've seen ragwort / chicory / dandelions already. Indeed we've seen them over and over again. Give us a rest!'. This is the trouble with seasons. They tend to come around a lot.
So I've been looking closer - and have become entranced by hoverflies. I'd thought they were all the same. They aren't. They are dramatically different, one from another.
This is getting nearer to the point. The closer you go, the more you see.
Back to the groundsel. My neighbour (Esther Montgomery) and I have been working on a project about urban wild plants.* I've been looking at the streets. She's been letting plants arrive in her garden by chance - seeing what happens. Of course, everyone knows what happens if you do this; the place silts up with weeds. And that is what has happened. I can see her garden from my window and to distant eyes it is, indeed, a mess. But the longer she leaves it, the more interesting it will be. Weeds need a few years to settle in, find a balance. Maybe they need protecting from bullies like blackberries but, apart from that . . .
In the streets, I've mainly been interested in finding out what's there. There's a lot. Occasionally photographs of these plants have crept into Loose and Leafy posts* but I try not to let this happen too often. I suspect most people want Loose and Leafy to show something rural, blatantly pretty. Why not? Some hardly ever get out of town.
Some people have never seen the sea.
Back to the photo. I may be misjudging. I may be too hopeful that others will see through my ground level eyes. I've got so used to admiring the small, the neglected, the generally uprooted, maybe I'm putting too much weight on it. Will you - do you? see beauty in this groundsel? Please don't say, even to yourselves, 'It's all very well in the roadside but I wouldn't want it here.'. Try to set that aside. Imagine you don't know what it is.
Isn't she lovely? Isn't she beautiful?
Try Stevie Wonder - Isn't she lovely?
* Esther's up to 23,000 words. I have over a thousand pictures - and still climbing. She's a way to go. There will come a moment when I'll need to do some pruning!
*Examples of street plants posts.
Loose and leafy post about plants in a playground.
Loose and leafy post about gutters and drains.
P.S. You might like to know that Janet at Garden 65 has an interesting post which includes a diagram which plots and names the veins in a hoverfly wing - Oxen-born Bees - Fact and Legend