24 June, 2011

June wildflowers, birds and bees

When I reread Tuesday's poem, I found japonica and bees. Fitting in to my post for Wildflower Wednesday in Pollinator Week. Today's plants are all indigenous to South Africa in the spirit of Gail at Clay and Limestone's meme, EXCEPT the Japanese flowering quince and the fig and ash trees.

Listen to Henry Reed himself reading his poem, with Frank Duncan (as the lecturer). How strangely wonderful is modern technology! This is from a BBC broadcast in 1966. Text found at solearabiantree.


To-day we have naming of parts. Yesterday,
We had daily cleaning. And to-morrow morning,
We shall have what to do after firing. But to-day,
To-day we have naming of parts. Japonica
Glistens like coral in all of the neighboring gardens,
          And to-day we have naming of parts.

Japanese flowering quince
with bee
LAST June, today is winter, grey wet and cold.

This is the lower sling swivel. And this
Is the upper sling swivel, whose use you will see,
When you are given your slings. And this is the piling swivel,
Which in your case you have not got. The branches
Hold in the gardens their silent, eloquent gestures,
          Which in our case we have not got.

Winter branches
Ash and fig

This, is a detail
from one of the pictures in the collage below.
Raindrops on Tecomaria

This is the safety-catch, which is always released
With an easy flick of the thumb. And please do not let me
See anyone using his finger. You can do it quite easy
If you have any strength in your thumb. The blossoms
Are fragile and motionless, never letting anyone see
          Any of them using their finger. 

Malachite sunbird on
Cotyledon orbiculata

And this you can see is the bolt. The purpose of this
Is to open the breech, as you see. We can slide it
Rapidly backwards and forwards: we call this
Easing the spring. And rapidly backwards and forwards
The early bees are assaulting and fumbling the flowers:
          They call it easing the Spring.

Hemizygia transvaalensis
(sage family from the 'old Transvaal')
Pink flowers, retaining coloured calyx
after the flowers fall!

Bee on Hemizygia

They call it easing the Spring: it is perfectly easy
If you have any strength in your thumb: like the bolt,
And the breech, and the cocking-piece, and the point of balance,
Which in our case we have not got; and the almond-blossom
Silent in all of the gardens and the bees going backwards and forwards,
          For to-day we have naming of parts.

Euryops pectinatus
with grey leaves
and a crab/flower spider lurking

Red Tecomaria, mauve Tulbaghia, blue Felicia
Pink Joy Crassula ovata,
orange and blue Strelitzia,
ruby Lachenalia rubida

Who would have thought that schoolgirl would three decades later have a japonica of her own?  I remember sitting in a classroom at Camps Bay High School, listening to a maths teacher droning on about trigonometry. Just a meaningless word to me today. While a row of surfing boys along the window seats, gazed out to sea, and evaluated the waves for the afternoon, when life would happen again. One boy who had a mass of dark waving hair over his shoulders. Not allowed in school. He had it down to a very fine art. Gathered the hair up into a TINY bun with a few hairpins! I only know that, because, just once, his bun fell apart.

Pictures by Diana and Jurg
words by Diana of Elephant's Eye
- wildlife gardening in Porterville,
near Cape Town in South Africa

(If you mouse over brown text, it turns shriek pink.
Those are my links)


  1. Found you on Esther's blog. I happen to love plants, and your blog caught my eye. Plus I have never been to Africa and it is a regret. Anyways, I will be following your posts of plants, you make it interesting with your descriptions. Good things...

  2. Hi Diana,
    Lovely post. Great poem - lovingly illustrated with images.
    All the best,
    Ingrid x

  3. I wonder what the boy with the bun is doing now ...

  4. b_a_g I could Google him and see ...

  5. Hi Diana - my daughter was at Camps Bay High too. I'm an old St Cyps girl. I loved your words and the photos. The area with your bird bath and feeders is gorgeous!

    Keep warm :)

  6. Hi Diana. It is a pity that the translation of the poems lose all its charm, but can well understand, is not the same when no musicality.
    You are an artist around.

  7. A neighbor has a Japanese flowering quince. They tend to bloom early here, and the bees really do seem to enjoy them. I love the color of their blossoms. Your Malachite sunbird though...oh my...perfectly named. Such dazzling iridescent plumage! You have some absolutely stunning birds there Diana.

  8. what a beautiful post,, just everything about it,, I enjoyed this very much,

  9. great idea to combine a written text and images...

    who took the photos? not easy to catch a sunbird or bees so close.. was it with a macro lens? or a good zoom and very steady hand?

  10. Sprig - the bird is his - thru the bedroom window is the secret. The bee is mine, choose the best of MANY pictures, with a little luck thrown in for the world in a raindrop!

  11. Eugeni - that is the problem with translating. You choose the meaning, or the music.

  12. We have a lot of sunbirds out and about with the aloe in bloom around here

  13. All so beautiful, but my favourite has to be the raindrops on Tecomaria.

  14. Wonderful - my love of Japonica centres on two things - this poem, and a painting I will inherit - a large canvas of Japonicas painted by Gerda Oerder (Oerder Pitlo), widow of Frans Oerder, the famous painter and my grandparents' neighbours. It was the first thing she painted after his death, she was thrilled with it, and when she realised she could not show it to him, she called my grandmother...

  15. Very great pictures. Most I like this waterdroplet on the red flower. Great shot!
    Because of spam, I have seen this button on some blogs. But I feel if these people which send spam check out this... I don´t know.
    I only made this post to let people think about to try it without this wordverification.
    Thanks for your response. Have a nice weekend.
    LG Tina

  16. Loving your photos Diana, in particular the rain drops one. What camera to you use?

  17. what a rich post, great poetry, lovely collages and evocative childhood memory.

  18. I totally agree with Clare! Stunning birds. Let me add that your bee on Hemizygia is also wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed the poem and reading about HR~I had to know more about him! gail

  19. Beautiful photos and poem Diana! I particularly love the sunbird collage. Fabulous! What a color! Also the reflections in your raindrops are stunning.

  20. Love the quince - and that sunbird. Wow! Nothing remotely like that here in RI, that's for sure.

  21. StoneArt - mine is the point and shoot Canon. I am amazed by how much detail is buried in these digital photos!

  22. Been a bit behind in my reading but wanted to make sure I caught your latest post....I so love looking at the flowers and listening to your wonderful words...the surfer boys had it right...and if that math teacher could have only used surfing in their lecture what a wonderful class it would have been...love the boy in the bun :)

  23. The malachite sunbird is amazing! Your photos are lovely The image of the surfer boy with the tight bun made me laugh. My middle son also had mastered the art. He attended a school with a strict dress code, but he was determined to grow his hair beyond the limits. He had gorgeous, thick hair. Poor guy. Today he is bald.

  24. Your photos are stunning...beautiful blooms, poetry, and wildlife!

  25. All the photos are so breathtaking. I can't choose a favorite. Thanks for sharing!

  26. I've always loved that poem!


Photographs and Copyright

Photographs are from Diana Studer or Jurg Studer.
My Canon PowerShot A490

If I use your images or information, it will be clearly acknowledged with either a link to the website, or details of the book. If you use my images or words, I expect you to acknowledge them in turn.

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