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Bees on Lavender

Sunday, 1st September 2002

lavenderhoney beeIt's a perfect start to September. At the top end of my mum's back garden, near the south facing wall, the flowers of lavender are attracting honey bees (right) and several species of bumblebees.

It's so warm on this sunny morning that the heady aroma of lavender oil hangs in a haze around the plant. It reminds me of the smell of Mediterranean garigue on a hot day but also of dried flower shops and of the polished interiors of old churches and English country houses. And of a quintessentially English girl I once knew who used to wear a lavender water.

marmalade-coloured bumblebeemarmalade-coloured beesmall ginger beeSome of the small to medium-sized bumblebees are a marmalade, gingery colour all over. Some of these ginger bees are as small as a bluebottle.

bumblebeeThis larger bumblebee has a whitish tail and a pale ochre band at the front of its thorax. It has a rapid, rather jerky, flight-path as it zips from flower to flower.

Snared by Silk

trapped bumblebeethe spider dashes out It's one of these larger bees that blunders into an orb web spun between the flower stems at the top of the plant. It hangs their helpless from the invisible threads. We break the strands just as a spider runs out. The bee hangs for a while from the flower we've put it on, still snared in silk, then recovers and starts cleaning itself off. As it severs the strand holding it to the flower it suddenly drops to the path.

As I've recently spent more time than I cared to ensnared in filling my tax return, I know just how it feels to break free.

Lavender Sketchbook

lavender sketchbookMy new sketchbook has a cover picture of lavender flowers. This one has fairly thin, fairly smooth cartridge, ideal for pen and ink and notes, acceptable for a light watercolour wash.

As an illustrator I'm from a book background. As this is mainly for my diary the sequential nature of the bound book form is ideal. I'd get so confused if I worked on seperate scraps of paper. As I've said before, I want to incorporate my notes into the sketchbook more and make more of the notes, and of course wherever possible the sketches, from life in the field.

sketchbook, 25th, 26th AugustI came across this sketchbook in a bargain bookshop. It's published by the Peony Press and the photograph of lavender is by Andrea Jones, ©2002.

For more of her work follow the link at the foot of the page.


weasel As we're sitting by the pond this afternoon Barbara spots a weasel. They love to explore crevices and this one pops up in a gap between the stones at the edge of the raised bed. It stretches up to take a look around. It's difficult to catch that active cute alertness in a sketch.

weasel Two or three minutes later it pops its head out of a gap beneath a bramble leaf by the pond, just five feet away from where I'm sitting. It takes a quick look at us and decides to turn back under the willow bush.

weasel There's a rustling beneath the hogweed leaves at the corner of the pond then it briefly checks out a crevice below a mossy rock.

weasel A few minutes later we see it scampering away, a sinuous sausage, at the end of the garden by the compost bins.

Like the buzzard we saw last week I believe that this is the first record for our garden in the 19 years that we've lived page

Related Link

Andrea Jones at
Andrea is one of Britain's formost gareden photographers. Based in Kew she holds a library of her work and is published very widely.

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

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