Sticky-Back Power

“Do you know what’s looking nice at the moment?” is a regular comment in our garden with one of us bringing a plant that is looking well to the other’s attention. Today it was Mary telling me that Lamium orvala was in full flower and was looking especially good. With the common name of “dead nettle” one would hardly expect any great beauty in this lamium but it really is a gorgeous plant. So, on Mary’s prompting, I headed off with the camera to catch the plant at its best.

In such moments I feel I am living by W.H. Davies’ precepts:

“What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows” etc

for photographing this one plant stretches to an hour of wandering and looking and taking photographs. It is a special time of enjoying the garden, a time of simply looking and admiring the beauty of plants, a time of relaxation and of whiling away a few minutes. I often think it is the best part of gardening!

Of course, as you have imagined, such outings to see “what’s looking nice at the moment” are a regular part of gardening life here, a daily part if weather allows – and if the weather allows gardening, it will also allow photography.

Here are a few from today’s outing:

Anemone nemerosa is a native species, a woodland plant, but there are also many interesting garden cultivars:

Erythroniums are woodland plants in North America and our conditions suit them well:

Trilliums have done especially well this year; T. chloropetalum and T. albidum especially so. These have made good clumps in the garden and are self-seeding.

Now, as to the title: Those of my generation will recall the days before camera ownership was not commonplace and tourist areas would have a photographer who would take your photograph and give you a receipt so you could view and collect a print the following day. Arthur Fields was “The Man on the Bridge”, well known from his presence on O’Connell Bridge in Dublin. You may recall that such a photograph featured prominently in John le Carré’s Brighton Rock. Tramore has its own such photographer who walked the prom, and was popularly known as “Sticky-back Power” As Mary’s name also happens to be Power I regularly re-use the old name and give it to her.

13 thoughts on “Sticky-Back Power

  1. You have reminded me that I used to have Lamium orvala, both white and pink varieties, but I’ve not seen either for quite some time. You are ahead of us here in Devon, my Anemone nemerosa Vestal isn’t flowering yet and with temperatures dropping I think the buds will stay shut for a while yet. Your trilliums are magnificent!

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  2. Enjoying your photos as usual Paddy, especially the Erythroniums. The only one I have is ‘White Beauty’ which is nice now too with its marbled leaves. Your ‘Knightshayes’ takes my fancy. I found them hard to get established; planted five corms, result one plant! though, to be honest, it’s all I have room for at the moment.

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    1. I have found them awkward as well – to get them going – but a move to a different bed set them off and they are doing well there. It is slightly raised and had garden compost and leafmould added when I was making it and I think that helped.


  3. ’What is this life if, full of care,
    We have no time to stand and stare.’

    That’s what caught my eyes, those words. In the Bubble Garden we find restlessness is made more acute by our struggles, as if instictively we keep on trying to move to put it behind us. Absurdly, since all we’re doing is towing your troubles along. It’s a skill, standing still. Time to stand still it’s time you must teach yourself to claim. In the Bubble Garden we’re no good at it, despite wanting to be. But it does seem to get a little bit easier in in the garden, as if time is made of another fabric there.

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    1. I’ve had many years of upset, of days of being on my knees in the garden and crying because the weeds continued to grow – of course, the tears had nothing to do with the weeds but with my sadness. So, when these moments, minutes, even hours of calm enjoyment arrive, I treasure them very much and feel so thankful for them. The big upsets of life are difficult to leave behind and some we will carry with us to our graves but, I feel, they do become lighter as the years pass and we cannot run away from them, only carry them with us as best we can.

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      1. Yes, carry them and remind ourselves to take pride in the hard work that’s life. It’s a gift to have known enough pain to know better, to get the chance to tell your kids that it’s not about being happy. It nerver was, it never will be, it was always about having people by your side who are worth the struggle. And about the moments when you get to watch them find that calm. Taking photos of the anemones in their garden. Lighting the stove when April brings snow.

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    1. No, they are an American species. I have found some very difficult/slow to become established in the garden; very slow to bulk up but plants received from friends’ gardens have all done very well – growing plants, simply lifted and transplanted to our garden. These have done very well and have been very easy.

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