What Lies Under A Piece of Bark

x5 images. Double click to enlarge.

Lifting a piece of bark in a garden border, the last thing I expected to find was a delightful Smooth Newt (Lissotriton vulgaris).

It remained where it was, frozen to the spot. I hadn’t got my camera, so I gently placed the bark back and went into the house to get my equipment. Thankfully, when I got back and lifted the bark a second time, he was still there.

It is the first time I have seen a Smooth Newt here, in fact, surpisingly, the first time since I was a boy back home in the 1970s., so this was quite an exciting find for me.

I found him at the opposite end of the garden to where my pond is located, but after their spring mating sessions in ponds they live the rest of the year away from water, hiding under rocks and logs in woodland, hedgerows or gardens, venturing out only at night to hunt inveretbrates.

The Smooth Newt is one of three native species to be found in the UK, and it is the commonest and the most frequently encountered of them all.

Rosemary


Salvia rosmarinus – I have always grown Rosemary in the garden. It is a member of the mint family, the Lamiaceae, which also includes nettles. Apart from its distinct aroma when the leaves are crushed, and its taste when used in cooking as a herb, it also makes a lovely evergreen woody shrub which has these lovely little ornate flowers. They attract polllinating insects. Double-click image to enlarge.


Rosemary Salvia rosmarinus

© Peter Hillman ♦ 7th May 2020 ♦ rear garden, South Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200


Japanese Rose


Kerria japonica – These flowers are from a deciduous shrub which was already growing in my garden from the day I moved here almost 30 years ago. It goes by different names, but there are no thorns on this rose. It never fails to display these small, bright yellow pom pom flowers.


Japanese Rose Kerria japonica

© Peter Hillman ♦ 1st April 2020 ♦ rear garden, Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200


Like Ornamental Glass

Geranium

This is a hardy Geranium after rain, one of the few remaining flowers left in the garden as autumn deepens. The flower is so delicate and refined with those shimmering raindrops it is like it is made from the finest glass.

This can be quite tricky to photograph. Besides the lighting conditions, it all depends on where you focus as the depth of field can go anywhere. I always use manual mode for full control, and take several photos, picking the one which I think works the best.  I tried to keep it soft on the side edges, ensuring the background was completely blurred. This makes the flower and its details pop more, especially if you can tone down the back lighting, too.

Double click if you wanna get closer…

October 2019 © Pete Hillman.

Looking Differently

Petunia

As you know I like to get close to things, and I chose a Petunia which has been growing in one of my containers on the patio for this one. I was so attracted to its deep rich colours and the intricate veins spreading through the petals like ink stains on blotting paper.

Rear garden. September 2019 © Pete Hillman.

A Bit of Garden Shade

fuschia

Out of the glare of the sun you can see more details in the most delicate of blossoms. I isolated this fuschia bloom in a shady corner of the garden once the sun had moved around.

© Pete Hillman August 2019.

Getting Bigger

Common Frog Rana temporaria

I have noticed how big the young frogs are now growing in the garden pond. I spied four of them amongst the Water Mint and pond weed poking their heads out the water.

Common Frog Rana temporaria

Common Frog Rana temporaria

Common Frog Rana temporaria

Feel free to click the images to enlarge and click again to get even closer …


© Pete Hillman August 2019

Rain Again

Pencilled Cranes-bill Geranium versicolor

Click and click again on the image to get that little bit closer …


Hardy geranium. June 2019, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman.

On The Bird Feeder

Blue Tit Cyanistes caeruleus

The garden bird feeder is quite busy at the moment. These Blue Tits Cyanistes caeruleus are certainly taking advantage of it and they are welcome too.

Blue Tit Cyanistes caeruleus


May 2019, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman.

A Drenched Beauty

This is one of the best years for peonies I have known here. I do love the rain so long it doesn’t pour endlessly, and this morning it was but a brief spell. I love the freshness and invigoration it brings to the garden, so I couldn’t resist popping out with my camera when the rain had stopped.

The flowers were heavy with the raindrops, looking almost as if they were bowing. I have a special place for Peonies. My parents grew them back home, and they remind me of my younger years growing up, and so enjoying those warm sunny spring days.


May 2019, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman.

Catching The Sun

Autmum fell to winter, and winter flew and we are already enjoying a wonderful spring here on this side of the pond. Finally I made it back after a fairly long hiatus, and I will look forward to catching up with you all!

This is one of my favourites which seemingly appeared out of nowhere in one of my flowerbeds. The Welsh Poppy Meconopsis cambrica has a the most beautiful sunny colours, so bright, cheery and vibrant the petals almost appear to capture the sun itself.


May 2019, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman.


PS: Has anybody used the new ‘Block’ editor yet, and what do you think about it?

Butterflies And Lavender

Gatekeeper Pyronia tithonus

I have three Lavender bushes in my small garden, and the bees and butterflies really enjoy visiting them. Next year I may consider planting a lavender hedge, if I can make room for one. This butterfly with the twin spots is called the Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus).

Gatekeeper Pyronia tithonus

Gatekeeper Pyronia tithonus

Click once to expand view, click again to get that little bit closer


July 2018, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman.

Catching The Early Sunlight

Opium Poppy Papaver somniferum

Last night was a very hot and close one, so sleep was quite restless. So up early to find this Opium Poppy (Papaver somniferum) flower catching the first rays of sunlight.

Opium Poppy Papaver somniferum

Click once to expand view, click again to get that little bit closer


June 2018, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman.

Opening Mid-summer II

Opium Poppy Papaver somniferum

Opium Poppy Papaver somniferum

Now if this plant grows feet and start walking about the garden I will be worried. There has been no meteor showers of late, has there? Although it does look like it is about to ballet dance around the flowerbed to me.

Click once to expand view, click again to get that little bit closer


Opium Poppy (Papaver somniferum) June 2018, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman.

Opening Mid-summer

Opium Poppy Papaver somniferum

Every few years (actually quite a few numbers of years can pass) and one of these beautiful Opium Poppies (Papaver somniferum) will just appear out of nowhere in my back garden. This one is quite a monster in size and has many heads like the mythical Hydra.

Click once to expand view, click again to get that little bit closer


June 2018, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman.

Let’s Have Some Marmalade!

Marmalade Hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus

By pure coincidence as I was photographing the garden pond for the previous blog to my joy I had this delightful little visitor alight on the Yellow Flag Iris.

Marmalade Hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus

It is called the Marmalade Hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus, and I had to do quite the balancing act, getting my socks wet more than once, to get these photos as it had landed on the Iris which is growing in the pond.

Marmalade Hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus

At first it appeared to be feeding or drinking water droplets from the flower, but it was also giving its back legs a good washing.

Marmalade Hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus

Whatever it was doing it certainly brightened up this rainy, grey leaden day for me 🙂

Marmalade Hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus

Click once to expand view, click again to get that little bit closer


May 2018, garden pond, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman Sigma 18-300mm with AML72-01 achromatic macro lens and Sigma 105mm macro lens. Yep, it even gave me time to change lenses between shots.

Garden Pond After 2 Years

Garden Pond

As requested by my blogging friend Vicki (who has a lovely blog called ‘Living With nature’), here are some pics of the garden pond as it has grown and established itself over the past two years. No sun today so very grey and overcast when I took these photos. It’s only very small, but it does attract wildlife. Birds will come and drink or bathe in the water. Hoverflies, damselflies and water beetles have bred in the pond. Frogs and toads visit regular. And the Pfeiffer’s Amber Snail (Oxyloma elegans) has taken up permanent residence there.

Oh, and can you spot the Marmalade? A hoverfly that is? 🙂 I will feature the Marmalade Hoverfly in my next blog.

Garden Pond

Yellow Flag Iris Iris pseudacorus

May 2018, garden pond, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman Sigma 18-300mm.

Finally, After 3 Years …

Yellow Flag Iris Iris pseudacorus

After 3 years since I built my small garden pond and planted this Yellow Flag Iris Iris pseudacorus it has flowered for the very first time to my joy. This is the first bloom, and it looks like there are many more to come.

Yellow Flag Iris Iris pseudacorus

Yellow Flag Iris Iris pseudacorus

Yellow Flag Iris Iris pseudacorus

Click once to expand view, click again to get that little bit closer


May 2018, garden pond, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman Sigma 18-300mm.

Snow-in-summer

Snow in summer Cerastium tomentosum

Snow-in-summer (Cerastium tomentosum).

This was taken in the shade as the sun had moved around the garden this late afternoon. Trying out my new Sigma 18-300mm DC macro lens for the first time, and seeing what it can do. Will need to practice more to get the hang of it.

May 2018, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman

Season’s First

Pencilled Cranes-bill Geranium versicolor

Coming home from work this afternoon I spotted this single Pencilled Cranes-bill Geranium versicolor, the first of the season, and just had to takes its picture.

May 2018, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman

Blue Is The Hue

Grape Hyacinth Muscari armeniacum

Blue is the main hue in my garden now as many of these delightful Grape Hyacinths burst into life in the borders. One of my favourite spring garden flowers.

Grape Hyacinth Muscari armeniacum, April 2018, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman

The Sound of Starlings

Starling Sturnus vulgaris

My neighbour has a large cherry tree and one or two Starlings have been perched in it of late in the high branches. They make the most varied and curious bird song I have ever heard, which is quite fascinating.


Starling Sturnus vulgaris, April 2018, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman

Spring In The Garden Pond

Marsh Marigold Caltha palustris

Marsh Marigold Caltha palustris, April 2018, rear garden pond, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman