I spent Good Friday with my Mum in London and managed to sneak in 5 minutes of macro photography in her garden. It was a warm but fairly overcast afternoon, which is pretty perfect for macro. This is because the light is softer, creating less contrast in images, and not so hot that insects are hyperactive.
Every spring my Mum and Dad’s garden explodes with self-seeded forget-me-nots, lesser celandines and garlic mustard. The forget-me-nots are truly stunning flowers.
Up close and under a macro lens they are even better. I didn’t get a photo of their full spread, but this tweet completely sums up how I feel about them:
I think it’s a good idea to normalise calling certain things ‘wildflowers’ rather than ‘weeds’.
Years ago my Dad used an old enamel sink to make a pond. We put some marsh marigold in which has proven very content indeed in that small basin. It’s a good nectar source for bees in particular.
One of my Dad’s favourite plants in the garden was the smokebush which grows outside the kitchen window. The colours are incredible when in full swing, but the plant is no less beautiful when it comes into leaf. One of the last proper conversations with my Dad was when I told him I had cut this back (it was getting quite big) and he thanked me for it. I can’t tell you how significant that is now.
I noticed a familiar bee whizzing around the gooseberry bush – another of my Dad’s favourites, which he would pick fruit from and put into desserts, but also curse the woodpigeons who sometimes ate all the crop in one go! This little red bee is a tawny mining bee, one of the early solitary bee species that we get in southern England. Here you can see it pollinating the gooseberry flowers, that highly valuable ecosystem service you may have heard about. Also note the ant approaching!
The ant is clearly approaching the bee, which in turn is shifting ready to fly. You can just about make out the ant’s mandibles opening in a threatening manner.
The ant has done its job and the tawny mining bee has fled the scene. I can only guess that the ant sees the bee as a threat to any aphid farming operations which are taking place on the plant, or happening nearby. The mining bee is no threat to the ant or the aphids. It only wants nectar and pollen.
I didn’t know that I had captured this scene – it is out of focus after all! But it is a reminder if you spend even a few minutes looking you will find some drama going on out there.
Thanks for reading.