Monday, May 09, 2011

alkanet, noise, tranparency

One of my flower books describes alkanet, an introduced perennial, as rare. It isn't rare round here. It seems to grow almost everywhere, sending its roots deep into the soil. Despite its lovely blue flowers it can be unwelcome in the flower and vegetable garden. The plant is native on the west coast of France and in the Iberian peninsula.

From within the lime tree opposite our house this afternoon comes an angry scream repeated with increasing intensity. All sorts of noises come from the tree - the flapping of pigeon wings, the song of blackbirds and starlings, and various tits, but this is the voice of one of the ubiquitous grey squirrels which inhabit the neighbourhood.

The deep red rose which I think may be called Copenhagen, has enormous blooms this year, perhaps in some way linked to  the cold winter and early spring. This afternoon I watch the sun light illuminate the flowers from behind. The  transparent, back lit  petals seem  to be  alive.


Roderick Robinson said...

Alkanet - surely a very modern flower, grown wirelessly perhaps.

I remember a lot of avian shrieking coming from a pond corral at Slimbridge. It turned out to be well justified. Different types of bird were warning each other that a heron had just dropped in and the pond was now under its scrutiny. Suddenly - so swiftly that I did not see it - the heron mobilised its rangy body, swept down and picked up a duckling from the water. The heron then returned whence it had come and was silhouetted against the sky, manipulating the duckling with the tips of its beak, opening its beak and goodbye duckling. Except it wasn't goodbye, quite. The heron continued to stand there thoughtfully while a lump made its way down its lengthy throat. The audience - clearly Guardian readers to a man or a woman - previously making approving noises about what they imagined to be a natural idyll now changed their tone from a shocked "Ah" into a censorious diminuendo "Ahhhhh." I can't pretend I wasn't one of them.

Unknown said...

An enjoyable story. I wonder if it was the heron I photographed gliding over the water at Groombridge Place the other day (See my recent post). I have been watching it with increasing interest. I will pay even closer attention to it now, as the lake is populated by many ducks and I have previously seen and photographed mothers with their ducklings. I shall keep a weather eye for Guardian readers meanwhile.

Lucy said...

That sounds a bit like the pelican and pigeon fiasco in St James's park that was recorded on Youtube a while back. Grisly!

Alkanet isn't at all rare here, either. I love it, not least for things I've learned about it here, that its name is of Arabic origin, and is something to do with red, not blue, because of its roots. Mostly though I just think it's a wondrous blue, of spring/summer really hitting its stride.

Unknown said...

Lucy I think that we have had this alanet exchange before. In The Englishman's Flora, Geofrey Grigson says taht Alkanet is a diminutive of the Spanish alcanna which in turn comes from the Arabic al-henna, the henna plant, the name of the small tree Lasonia inermis, source of henna. Hence your red association.