"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion" Francis Bacon 1561-1626

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

“Buzz” at Heligan

16th to 30th June

The Lost Gardens of Heligan

Pentewan,
St.Austell,
Cornwall
United Kingdom,
PL26 6EN

Tel : 0044(0)1726 845100
info@heligan.com

That’s where the bees and I will be until the end of the month.  In the beautiful Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall. It will be my first time not only at the Gardens but in Cornwall, so it will all be new…new is good!

I will be there, for sure at 2.00 each day from 16th to the 22nd. If the weather is fine we will go and look for bees if not I will be there to talk about the bees and enthuse..one thing I am very good at. On other days and times I probably won’t be too far away but you will be able to see the bees during regular opening times. I may be blogging, I may not. All will depend on the, no doubt elusive, internet connections. 

Bee-poster

Come and say Hi if you can..

If not I will be Artist in Residence at the lovely Wallworth Hall in Twigworth which is home to the “Nature in Art” gallery, just 2 miles north of Gloucester. August 2nd to 7th.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Tiny Bees and a something spot Burnet Moth

A couple of days ago I took a morning off to go back to Paxton. It was lovely to see more bees… so many of the Tree Bee Bombus hypnorum… and some tiny tiny bees nesting in the most inconvenient place, right in the middle of the footpath. They are halictids of some kind I think and amongst them there also seemed to be some hylaeus bees, recognisable by the white marks on their faces.

They peep out of their holes waiting to see if the coast is clear..tiny bee head

… and come into land.. sometimes hovering. They have to check out if they have the right hole. This little bee has yellow legs ….

tiny bee

Other tiny bees laden with pollen would generally find their nest holes without any hesitation.
halic 

I saw tiny bees on the nearby bramble blossoms….

tiny bee 3

I cannot say what they are. If I have learnt one thing in my time of looking at bees, it is how very difficult it is for even experts to tell you what these tiny ones are, especially from not very clear photos!!  But for me it is enough to know they are there..and that some bemused visitors to Paxton Pits now know they are there.

And then I saw this strangely beautiful burnet moth just emerged from its chrysalis… 5 or 6 spot I don’t know which…

burnet

It is the embodiment of the quote I have on my sidebar

"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion" Francis Bacon

Tonight I am packing for Heligan….

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Days of Wine and… labels

It’s not all bees. I do do other things and amongst the nicest of them are wine labels. In the summer I worked with Jeff at Liquid Farm on a label for his new wine label. “Liquid Farm”.  It must be (and is, from what I gather from Jeff and Nikki) very exciting to launch your own wine. One of those things many of us food and wine lovers would love to do. It goes hand in hand with producing your own olive oil, or fine cheese or honey or any gorgeous foodie products which have been made with love and care.

I was so pleased to be able to be involved! The image is surreal and intriguing (Jeff's concept) and beautifully printed with that nice bit of cool embossing too!
After my bit, which was working on adapting an existing drawing, there were a few mores stages. The design of the label itself,  the typeface and of course the wording. When all that was finalised the labels had to be approved by the USA government.
LIQWHFACELIQWHBACK 

Then there are proofs,  which are always interesting.. I like to see the mechanics behind producing things. It shows the markup in blue for the embossing.
er

Then the labels..

I187800_151714371560098_388805_n

.. and finally on the bottle!  LF on bottle 
And below with their appreciative parrot, Rio

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Their website is almost there; http://www.liquidfarm.com/, you can follow them on Facebook and the official launch is imminent.  Most of their 2009 is already sold but they will be bottling the White Hill 2010 in July and releasing it around Oct/November. The very best of luck to you Nikki and Jeff!

I am so looking forward to tasting the wine sometime, can’t think of a better excuse for a holiday in California!

Interestingly grapes do not need bees for pollination..which is reassuring in a way .. but poetically bees honey and wine seem a nice fit. There is of course mead, but that’s a whole different post.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Cormorant Island, Paxton Pits … and Graculus.

I LOVE cormorants! Always have, always will. What is it about them..with their strange snaky necks and shaggy black wings? We had a walk in Paxton Pits on Saturday and there on a little island in the middle of one of the ponds were maybe a dozen cormorants.

“Ahhhh” I said, as I always do when I see a cormorant,  “Graculus!” For that is surely where my cormorant love started, as a little girl watching in complete rapture, the gentle, beloved tales from the North, ‘where the black rocks stand guard against the cold sea, in the dark night that is very long, the men of the Northlands tell a tale. They tell of Noggin, Prince of the Nogs. ”and the regal great green bird Graculus. "I am Graculus, royal bird of the Land of Nog. Guide and protector of Noggin, Prince of the Nogs"

graculus bw
Early black and white Graculus
 

noggin and graculus

And with Noggin off to find the Ice Dragon…

Remembering these lovely stories by Oliver Postgate made in stop motion animation by Smallfilms is being wrapped in warm blankets in front of a blazing fire with hot cocoa and everything that was wonderful and safe and magical about childhood. If you want to see them again, hear that haunting bassoon music and those gentle soothing voices just go to Youtube and listen to the wonderful opening to Noggin the Nog. Ahhh….
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It was my first visit to Paxton Pits Nature Reserve and it was fascinating. So much to see and so far to walk and all for free. How very lucky we are in the UK to have these places.
I read that these are mostly the gloriously named Phalacrocorax carbo carbo Cormorants. And yes, there were bees, lots of them, but I just had to sketch the cormorants this time.

Paxton Pits Cormorants

paxton  corm islandcormorants paxton 
Sketches, pen and ink ..10x 8”

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Wild about bees: The “Buzz” at Easton.. what a Great Weekend!

My wild bees and me; we are just back from our weekend show at Easton Walled Gardens. I had such a wonderful time and talked bees non stop to so many very nice people. (I haven’t met a bad bee lover ever!!). I have never thought of myself as much of a campaigner but, as was pointed out to me several times, I have, perhaps, found my “cause”. I try not to slip into “bee bore” mode and try to stop before people glaze over .. but  “Thank you, I have really learnt so much today” was the best feedback I could hope for. So many people said they would now think more about our bees when they plant the gardens, all my leaflets on bee flowers went and so did my small stock of BUZZ books and I’m printing prints for orders on the day and re-ordering the postcards.

People reading the flowers notes were either congratulating themselves or making notes for future planting but were also telling me all about their own observations. One of the first ladies who came into the show brought a photo, on her mobile phone, of a bee nesting in a bird-box on her wall... I was able, very confidently, to tell her she has a little colony of the lovely Tree Bumble Bee, Bombus hypnorum. She was delighted! Many people also have humming houses like our cottage, full of mason bees.

People were surprisingly fascinated by the pinned specimens and my small collection of deceased bees and stroking a tiny velvety bee proved popular with both the kids and their parents.  There were lots of “Ahhhs”.

So it’s thanks to all who came, those who braved the rain on Monday and those who said such very kind things about the paintings and the bees. And a specially big thanks to bee fan Ursula, Lady Cholmeley and all the staff at Easton for not only making the show happen but also for creating a fabulous bee friendly garden with many bee favourites and gorgeous drifts of wildflowers and natural planting.  We got a mention in The Times, Country Life, Woman and Home and Radio Lincs… Hurrah.. let’s hear it for our wild bees!!! We are considering something bigger and better next year.. watch this blog!

Currently the Easton bees are particularly enjoying the huge exuberant border of catmint and the self seeded phacelia! So just a few more of the bees that you will be able to see right now:

Lovely lapidarius, with her glorious red tail,  such a favourite bee with everyone, on the catmint.

lap

Pretty Phacelia is one of the top 20 honey-producing flowers for honeybees! Check out its amazing blue/black pollen on this bees legs! black pollen 

Pascuorum on lupin

pasc

also on the drifts of pretty little speedwell…speedwell

Little HHFB,  the hairy footed flower bee on this beautiful blue green plant that I can never remember the name of…

hffb

and a late and hopeful male osmia.. I think..

 osmia

Do visit this beautiful garden if you have a chance.. it’s wonderful.. and my favourite lunch there is the pea green soup.. its like eating all the goodness of the earth whizzed up together and served with gorgeous locally baked warm bread..

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Delicious……

*******  BLOG UPDATE 2nd June… Blackbird has come to my rescue..and not for the first time .  The beautiful plant I could not remember the name of is Cerinthe

Blackbird has the really excellent BUGBLOG check out her fascinating post on the lovely hypnorum!  http://abugblog.blogspot.com/