Category Archives: outdoors

saxifraga

I discovered a tiny Holi festival going on in the neighbourhood this morning! From here, these beautiful little Saxifraga x urbium or London Pride (what a great name!) don’t look all that colourful…

Saxifraga x urbium

Saxifraga x urbium

But look a little closer…

Saxifraga x urbium

Saxifraga x urbium

Saxifraga urbium

Saxifraga x urbium

And you’ll see!

Saxifraga x urbium

Saxifraga x urbium

Aren’t they beautiful?! I completely fell in love with this sweet little plant but had no idea what it was. At first glance, I thought it might be a crassula of some kind as the flowers kind of resemble each other. But a bit of hunting and it turned out to be a saxifrage, a species that I vaguely remembered from my days as a herbalist but knew absolutely nothing about. So many plants to discover! There’s a lot of it in my neighbourhood, mostly planted amongst the rocky edges of tenement front gardens, and I’ll definitely be seeing it differently now!

There are so many details that you just can’t see unless you get in close.

The chunky, juicy style topped with delicate stigma, patiently awaiting pollen…

Saxifraga x urbium

Saxifraga x urbium

Those beautiful, coral-salmon, pollen-bearing anthers…

Saxifraga x urbium

Saxifraga x urbium

And that way that, once the anthers have fallen from the top, the filaments retract to form a series of rays between the petals…

Saxifraga x urbium

Saxifraga x urbium

And the summer mornings, with their long sunrise and soft, gentle light, make it easy to capture some lovely details, even for novice photographers like me, even though I know nothing about my camera’s manual settings.

How about you? Caught any nice details recently?

dianthus

Each day here, I see plants that I haven’t met before. It’s one of the joys of this big move and I try to remember to open my eyes as wide as I can to see all the newness around me. Some plants in particular capture my heart and this beautiful dianthus is one of those.

Dianthus

Dianthus bud

Dianthus

Whorling Dianthus petals

It’s sad that Dianthus are so under-appreciated in Australia. I’m not sure they’re built to flourish in the dry heat of Melbourne and I think the ubiquitous pink carnation has done them a great disfavour.

So it is lovely to discover their delicate beauty now…

Dianthus

Dianthus

The subtle shades and textures of those petals and stamens.

Dianthus

Dianthus

The delicate fringing and veining of the petals.

Dianthus

Dianthus

The way the petals start to curl inwards as they age.

Dianthus

Dianthus

Dianthus

Dianthus

And the perfect star of the older flowers.

Dianthus

Dianthus

Heavenly, that’s all I have to say. But there’ll no doubt be more on dianthuses (dianthes?!) here very soon!

natural dye classes

I’m very excited to be working on setting up some natural dye classes here in Scotland… Quite literally combining plants and fibre, it’s one of my favourite thing to teach and I’m really looking forward to sharing that with other fibre folk again… it’s always such an exhilarating experience to open up a whole new world of colour and understanding plants.

Dyeing with purple carrot

Dyeing with purple carrot

The many colours found in plants

A few of the many colours found in plants

I’m currently looking at different venues here in Glasgow and will keep you posted on those… but I am incredibly excited to let you know that I’ll be running a day-long introductory class on natural dyes at this year’s Shetland Wool Week! I’ve always dreamt of returning to Shetland after my dear friend Amy and I travelled there in 2010 after the UK Knitcamp so, when the lovely Wool Week organisers, Selina, Misa and Donna, suggested that I come up to teach a class, I literally squealed with excitement. I’m not usually one to squeal but this is an amazing thing for me!

The view from Mousa

The view from Mousa

A Shetland shetland sheep!

A Shetland shetland sheep!

I’ll be demonstrating the many (25 in this case) shades that you can achieve from a single dye bath, and incorporating into this practical session all the technical aspects of dyeing: mordanting (which I find is the biggest impediment to people trying natural dyeing at home), fibre preparation (I’ll be focusing on yarn, especially Shetland!), how to extract colour from your dyestuff and apply it to your fibres and how you can play around with colour by using post-bath treatments. And, because I’m most interested in dyeing with local, readily-available materials, we’ll also be taking a gentle walk around to explore the colour potential of the surrounding neighbourhood, often in the most unexpected places. It’s a really comprehensive way to learn the essentials and participants take home comprehensive notes on the dyeing process and a shade card. I hope it will bring into being some new natural dyers!

Madder-dyed yarns

Madder-dyed yarns

25 shades from one dyebath

25 shades from one dyebath

You can see the entire (and incredibly wide-ranging) program for this year’s event over at the Wool Week site (and keep up to date with any other classes I’m running by checking my classes page or signing up for blog updates)- and, who knows, perhaps I’ll see you there!

in the woods

Another heavenly morning focusing in on the beauty in the nearby woods…

Sycamore: Acer pseudoplatanus

Sycamore: Acer pseudoplatanus

European Larch: Larix decidua

European Larch: Larix decidua

Young leaves: Rubus sp.

Young leaves: Rubus sp.

Wood Horsetail: Equisetum sylvaticum

Wood Horsetail: Equisetum sylvaticum

Wood Anemone: Anemone nemorosa

Wood Anemone: Anemone nemorosa

Greater Stitchwort: Stellaria holostea

Greater Stitchwort: Stellaria holostea

Lesser Celandine: Ranunculus ficaria

Lesser Celandine: Ranunculus ficaria

Marsh-marigold: Caltha palustris

Marsh-marigold: Caltha palustris

Bluebell: Hyacinthoides non-scripta

Bluebell: Hyacinthoides non-scripta

Bluebell: Hyacinthoides non-scripta

Bluebell: Hyacinthoides non-scripta

Wood-sorrel: rumex acetosella

Wood-sorrel: rumex acetosella

Bracken: Pteridium aquilinum

Bracken: Pteridium aquilinum

Bracken: Pteridium aquilinum

Bracken: Pteridium aquilinum

Bracken: Pteridium aquilinum

Bracken: Pteridium aquilinum

Moss

Moss

Moss sporangia

Moss sporangia

Sycamore : Acer pseudoplatanus 

Sycamore : Acer pseudoplatanus

Bracken: Pteridium aquilinum

Bracken: Pteridium aquilinum

Turkey Tail: Trametes versicolor

Turkey Tail: Trametes versicolor

Turkey Tail: Trametes versicolor

Turkey Tail: Trametes versicolor

Turkey Tail: Trametes versicolor

Just like a tartan!

It’s wonderful to be so close to such beauty and to have the chance to learn more about plants that I’ve heard of or even used clinically and yet never seen, as well as to meet some entirely new ones. I’m on the hunt for some good field guides to help me as there is so much to learn- I recently confused squill with bluebells! I’m pretty rusty and surely more mistakes ahead of me but I’m just so grateful to be using my horticultural brain again!

moss

I’m obsessed with the mosses growing all over everything in Glasgow! I imagine they are most obvious right now because of the cold and moisture of winter but they can found on practically all fixed objects with a vaguely flat surface where moisture can collect and add a huge amount of cheer to the grey-brown winter landscape…

I’m looking forward to learning about the many different species- there are over 900 species of bryophytes (a group that includes not only mosses, but also liverworts and hornworts which are commonly confused with mosses) here in Scotland and, although I come from a relatively lush part of Australia, I’m a complete novice when it comes to bryophyte ID. So I have my work cut out for me.

In the meantime, I’m just enjoying these as-yet-unnamed beauties in all their forms…

Dots

Dots

Mossy dots

Mossy dots

Mossy dots

Mossy dots

Bridge

Bulges

Wall

Wall

Mossy walls

Mossy walls

Steps

Steps

Tree roots

Tree roots

Pompom trees

Pompom trees

Moss pompoms

Moss pompoms

Twig

Twig

Mossy jumper

Mossy balaclava

Branch

Branch

Knot

Knot

Moss on cherry bark

Moss on cherry bark

And, just because it’s so lovely, I’m adding this lichen into the mix. Not sure I’ll be taking on a study in Scottish lichens though- that’s another 1500 species!

Lichen on birch tree

Lichen on birch tree

Happy weekend!