Wild Garlic

In yesterday’s post, I’d got as far as the pen and ink for the ransoms or wild garlic for my woodland flowers spread. Adding the watercolour makes such a difference. As I painted it, I started thinking about the wood in spring with a waft of garlic drifting through the shadier, damper valley bottom by the beck.

Despite the recent snows, it’s young leaves are already beginning to appear, so I couldn’t resist tearing off a small piece yesterday morning, to crush it between my fingers to release that gentle scent of garlic.

In a month or two, when it’s at its lushest amongst the crack willows and alders alongside Coxley Beck, it looks rather tropical. When we moved here, thirty or so years ago, that area was open and meadow-like. Alder saplings started to colonise the open ground; now it’s alder woodland with ransoms spreading like weeds. Except ransoms isn’t a weed – in the sense of ‘a plant growing in the wrong place’ – because in Coxley Wood, it’s growing exactly where it should be growing. It’s good to see a wild flower doing well and spreading for a change.

Another drawing that’s been transformed by a wash of watercolour is the yellow archangel, which is one of my favourite woodland plants, as it’s supposed to be one of the indicators of ancient woodland. My original drawing, in my Sketchbook of the Natural History of the Country Round Wakefield, was just an inch and a quarter across, line only, so it resembled a Victorian engraving. Adding colour  reminds me how this plant brightens up the odd corner alongside woodland paths.

Wood sorrel isn’t nearly as widespread as lesser celandine, wood anemone and bluebell in the wood. I like those clover-shaped leaves, which are usually, if not always, folded back.

Next stage is to drop these scanned images onto a sketchbook background for my May nature diary spread in The Dalesman magazine. I realised that I’d need landscape format this time, not a double-page portrait sketchbook with the spiral binding in the centre, which is what I’ve used so far for my articles.

As luck would have it, the afternoon light was still suitable for me to go out to photograph an A5 sketchbook on a mossy rock on the raised bed behind the pond. I look forward to putting the whole design together and adding some lettering: not too much as I don’t want to crowd out the flowers.

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