In which plants barely get a mention – but there are bugs, spiders and snakes!
I will start with the usual reminder of who we are, for new visitors.
The team consists of Dominique Nancy of 3C Style in Canada, Lisa Lawrence of Lismore Paper in the USA, and myself in the UK. We work closely each month to bring you three intertwined posts with a common theme. We are all three very creative people who met via our WP blogs. We have a shared ethos and a close friendship. Our motto – ‘An ocean apart but we share the same heart’ describes us perfectly. The five hour time difference means I spend my morning commute catching up with their conversations during the night, and waiting for them to wake up so I can join in!
Make sure you visit Dominique and Lisa via the links above, to see the whole of the post.
Well I did at least post in between WFNC posts this time!
Camouflage is this month’s theme, which you might think odd when style should be about standing out from the crowd. There are numerous plants that camouflage themselves as protection against grazing animals, but the real inspiration this month was insects and spiders that I have photographed over the years. Even as far back as 1999 when I visited South Africa. However most that Dominique chose for her outfit inspiration were taken in the wilds of deepest darkest Lancashire. Specifically in my garden!
Lisa has produced some stunning art and photos this month. Her Birch and Maple photos fitted with the outfits beautifully. I love her Birch art too. I love the bright stems of silver birches in winter. The fresh yellow of their autumn leaves is gorgeous and I like them in late winter too when the twigs take on a red tinge as the new buds swell.
Personally I think the outfits are inspired matches and Dominique has excelled here. The spider and moth/birch outfits are such a beautiful match for the photos that inspired them. Lisa’s art this month beautifully takes this colour palette and works wonders.
European Garden Spider (Araneus diadematus)
This is a common spider here in the UK. It is very variable and is always beautifully marked. Mostly they tend to be black/grey/brown/white but this specimen living in my greenhouse had the most beautiful autumnal shades on its abdomen. It was also a very co-operative subject as it was quite accustomed to my presence. They build big and decorative webs and hang in the centre of them and are especially visible in autumn. Each pane of our living room bay window has had a web and spider since August – on the outside I hasten to add (otherwise the big house spider who lives under our TV would have been VERY grumpy…)
These spiders are harmless to humans and a big specimen has an abdomen around the size of a thumbnail – though I once found one in our old garden that had an abdomen the size of a large grape.
Arachnophobe or not – I hope you can agree that this is a really beautiful spider.
Peppered Moth (Biston betularia)
I was very pleased to see this on the windowsill at the front of our house. It stood out markedly there but Dominique has done a great job of illustrating its camouflage by placing it on a birch-bark background in her collages. This species is a special one to any biologist as its story beautifully illustrates evolution. The predominant colour form always used to be this light coloured version, but when tree bark was blackened by air pollution from industry in the 19th century the less common dark form had an advantage as it was less visible to predators and eventually became the dominant form. A situation which has reversed since the air became cleaner as less coal is being used. You can read more here.
Stink bug and Hawkmoth
The Hawkmoth here was photographed by me, in Crete in 2010. It seems to be the ‘Striped’ or ‘Silver Striped’ Hawkmoth. This holiday was memorable for several reasons. Not least because I got ‘stuck’ there by an Icelandic volcanic eruption stopping all European flights for several days. It also marks the last time I was completely without my stress-related tinnitus! It came back six months later and is still with me.
The stink bug is better known in the UK as the common green Shield Bug and is only relatively recently found this far North in England. Though regarded by some as a pest in gardens I have never known one do any damage and they overwinter in my greenhouse where I happily leave them alone.
The three critters in the collage that have not yet been mentioned are all crickets or grasshoppers.
You can probably make out the green one at bottom left because it is on dry grass – but when perched vertically on a green grass stalk it would be invisible. This is Acrida ungarica – the Cone-headed grasshopper or Mediterranean Slant-headed grasshopper. It was photographed in Crete in 2010
The top central and bottom central ones were both photographed in South Africa’s Knersvlakte in 1999. The top one is beautifully camouflaged against the red sand and the bottom one against the quartz pebbles that are characteristic of this habitat (and which support a unique array of succulent plants too).
Here is a bigger version of the latter in case you are struggling to see the bug (Stone Grasshopper) – which is dead centre in the photo and pretending to be a piece of quartz:
New Fashioned by Nature products.
I hope to cover these in more detail in a separate post – perhaps with some work-in-progress pictures for those based on my drawings. The three of us had a great time working together on these and hope these collages (compiled by Dominique) give a taste!
WFNC is taking a break – see you in the New Year! Everyone have a lovely Christmas!
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