Scattered thoughts on ladybugs, leaves and old books

On this rather blustery and wild 4c (42f) morning, I found this ladybug clinging for dear life to the house. Can you see her? At least the planter provides some protection from the wind.

One of the best things about taking a watercolour class is that I am paying far more attention to flowers and leaves than I ever have. Suddenly I’m noting the way the light hits a flower and seeing colour in an entirely different way. Here is a blue and black Salvia still blooming as if it was mid-summer. I’ve discovered that there are an infinite variety to autumn leaves and their colours … I spent the weekend mixing watercolour paints and painting autumn leaves. It was a magical time.

I was happy to find this Aloe plant in bloom yesterday (pictured at left). If Aiyana, from Water When Dry, sees this plant, I am hoping she can identify it for me.

Yesterday I spent some time working on my latest enthusiasm — altering books. A few days earlier, I went in search of some second-hand books that would make good subjects for altering.

I found a few that will be perfect for altering, but joy of joys, I discovered The Wildflowers of England by Robert Tyas.

This book was published in England in 1923, and contains some wonderfully- coloured illustrations. Each of the illustrations are preserved with tissue paper. The embossed cover is beautiful enough in itself to warrant having paid $4.00.

What a fascinating read this is. The author has an incredible knowledge of English wildflowers as well as a flowery, poetic writing style. He describes in minute detail the characteristics of each flower, their locations and the history of their names.

There are quotations from well-known and obscure poems sprinkled liberally throughout. In describing the Marsh Trefoil (Menyanthes), the author writes:

And yonder hills, now lying fallow, a rich red sandy soil, glow like fire. At every step we take the scene varies. Every minute the gorgeous panorama changes, as clouds of ever-varying form and density pass between earth and heaven, ever and anon, intercepting the sun’s evening light.

57 thoughts on “Scattered thoughts on ladybugs, leaves and old books

  1. I was starting to worry about you, Kate, didn’t know what you were up to but glad to see you were pursuing one of your passions. Your aloe looks a bit like a partridge breast aloe, although its marginal serrations are a bit larger than the normal PBA. I’m sure someone with more knowledge about succulents can offer better id.

  2. Kate: Watercolor class!? Good for you! I love your new book. I remember when I was a child that some books had tissue paper and I was enthralled with that delicate detail. I can’t wait to see some of your productions!

  3. HI Kate,I admire your desire to stay busy and look for the good in all things!You said, “The author has an incredible knowledge of English wildflowers as well as a flowery, poetic writing style.” – Hey, that’s YOU, Kate!Keep it coming. You help me relax in my over-busy world.

  4. Hi Kate,With over 300 species of Aloe to chose from, ID is tough, especially in a photo. A guess would be Aloe rauhii, but there are several with the same markings and flower color as the A. rauhii. In addition to the 300 species are numerous hybrids to add to the confusion. I sure hope you aren’t going to alter the book you found. It’s gorgeous. I’ve purchased a few books to alter, and then can’t do it because the illustrations are so beautiful. I once picked up a potential book for altering, got it home and checked it on Amazon. I sold that book for over $210.00! Aiyana

  5. I of course love and notice the wall! the texture is awesome and the color extremely pleasing. have fun with the classes and book altering.

  6. Hi Kate! I can’t believe that beautiful book was only $4 — what a score! I love old wildflower books too — some have handpainted illustrations, and some even have real dried samples! I’m so glad you got to spend time with watercolor this past weekend. Your photos of the aloe and Salvia are gorgeous! Moose says hi to Lytton!:)

  7. Hi Kate, its great to hear how much you have been enjoying the watercolour. Autumn leaves are a wonderful subject. Will you post your work?

  8. I am glad to hear that your watercolor class is expanding your visual response to the world around you. You already see more than the average person, but every new glimpse is a gift. A shift in light, the nuance of a shadow, the glory of color… maybe we will be seeing paintings of your garden someday soon.

  9. Hello Kate, Your black & blue salvia looks better than its cousins in my garden! Yours look lovely because of that wonderful light, but also look better because there are no mealybugs flittering above it. The wildflower book looks wonderful, and the bargain price was amazing. You sure are a good shopper.Am I the only one her who read ‘altered book’ and had no idea what you meant? I had to look it up. Like your other readers, I’m now very interested to see what you’ll do with the second hand material. Annie at the Transplantable RoseYour passionfruit photo had me hoping for one, Kate, but it looks like my vine doesn’t fruit.

  10. Speaking of old books Kate: I came across an old houseplant book from the 60s and it recommended growing morning glories indoors in bright light and moderately moist soil.It reminded me of your post below.

  11. Hi Kate! ..pretty flowers! ..THe book is a great find! You could color copy the pictuers !

  12. that’s great that you’re taking a watercolour class. i would love to do that, do actually learn some technique – i’m basically just wingin’ it. i look forward to seeing some of your work!

  13. Love the old book, I love old books with great pictures…like that one..great cover, & title..a water color fun, hope you will post some of your paintings..:)Cat

  14. Hi Ingrid – I certainly hope my ladybug brings me luck. She keeps coming back to sit around the same spot. Even the rain and wind didn’t seem to affect her.Jodi – I’m thinking that Aiyana’s got the correct id – an Aloe Rauhii. I thought it might have been a Partridge Breast Aloe, but the flowers looked somewhat different. Layanee – Watercolours are great fun – I started taking classes in the hope that I can paint flowers from the garden. I was really excited with the book – it is in great condition, although yellowed. That adds to its charm though. The tissue paper inserts are so delicate – I love that. Ruth – The cover of this book is so beautifully embossed. Mary – There are so many things that I want to do. I wish I had more time or energy to pursue everything. Aiyana – Thanks for your id – from the Aloe rauhii I saw on the internet, this is what it looks like. I had no idea there were so many Aloe species and hybrids.I’m having the same problem with the second-hand books I bought. They have great illustrations and I can’t quite bear to alter them. I have ended up buying new books that were on the remainder table … You did incredibly well on selling the book on Amazon! Wow … I wish that would happen to me. Paula – I love the texture and colour of the wall … I’m having a great time with both activities.Clare – I couldn’t believe my luck when I found this book. The illustrations are colourful and contain plants I’ve never heard of before. I’m happy that I still have a few flowers left! Bindi – One of these days I’ll have the courage to post my watercolour efforts. I’m still so critical of them … although I’m glad that I can see some progress. You are so lucky it is spring there.Annie – I can’t believe that the blue & black Salvia is still blooming its heart out. I’m taking some clippings to see if I can nurture them throughout the winter. Making altered books is so much fun. I love the freedom to do whatever I want to with them. I won’t touch the wildflower book, but I have a lot of possible books … I am completely mystified by why my passionflower vine set fruit. If I can keep the vines alive over the winter, I’ll be curious to see if I get some fruit next year!Mr. Brown Thumb – Maybe I will have to start some new Morning Glories indoors. If I could get some Heavenly Blues to grow by Christmas, I’d be thrilled! We should try this.Pam – Great idea colour copying the illustrations … I love them. I won’t alter this book though … it’s much too wonderful to read. Grache – I love ladybugs … so many of them end up coming indoors with the houseplants that I have them around all year round. Laura – It’s good to see you. I would have thought, from your paintings, that you’ve taken lots of classes. That’s amazing. I love taking these classes – it is such a relaxing activity. Catherine – I am going to make regular trips to this second-hand bookstore. They had some really interesting old books there. One of these days, I’ll post some watercolours.

  15. What is an altered book? I can see why you don’t want to change that one.We find ladybugs indoors at odd times of the year. When I find one upstairs, I take it down cellar to my geraniums hanging in windows.I did a few watercolors in school, but have always been interested in taking another class. Something to look forward to in my future. I am anxious to see your work.

  16. I can’t wait to see your watercolors (I’m hoping you’ll share those with us). Also, I love altered books and want to do some of those myself. But I definitely wouldn’t want to change that one you found. What a nice excerpt you provided. It’s wonderfully written and I love the cover. Plus the subject seems to just fit you so well. Okay, I’ll stop babbling now. 🙂

  17. Old books are such treasures! I remember how excited I was to find a book on houseplants published in 1948, it even has a chapter on orchid growing which really surprised me. I had to look to spot the bloom on the Aloe, it is really a tall spike, mine has never bloomed.

  18. Can’t wait to see what you do with the books you bought. That old wildflower book is quite the find! Beautiful poem too.Have a nice weekend, Kate. xoxo

  19. I love old books also, any chance I get I juast have to have them, especially if they are botanical or about bees – my 2 passions.What do you do when you say you `alter` the book ? I recently was given a beautiful very old book on bees, published in 1877, fantastic cover and line drawings plus infomation, I will post a pic in my blog.I enjoy reading yours !!

  20. Oooooh, another one of my weaknesses – old books. That looks like a wonderful find, Kate!

  21. Great find in that book. Wow. What a treat.I am trying to learn how to water color also . . . i like your comments about the colors you see now.

  22. I love old gardening books and magazines.The illustrated artwork still looks new.

  23. I hope the ladybird has found somewhere safe to tuck itself away for the winter. The wildflower book looks so interesting, I love the old books that have their illustrations protected with tissue paper.

  24. Kate, please explain what an “altered book” is ???? I can’t imagine what you do to alter them. Your $4.00 find is wonderful and should be displayed. The way books used to be made is wonderful and they, in themselves, are works of art. The tissue paper gives it an aura of the past and times forgotten. Keep noticing the little things – life is in the details.

  25. What a thrilling find! Each page covered in tissue too, such a treasure of a book…I wonder who owned it, how many owners it has had, what a tale it could tell…

  26. The wildflower book was a great find! They sure don’t make books like that anymore with onion skin protecting the illustrations and the embossed cover is amazingly detailed. It seems we are as cold as you are. Yesterday the outside thermometer read 41f in the early morning and 42f today. Wonderful that your watercolor class has enhanced your viewing of flowers and shrubs. I find that looking at other blogger’s photos do the same for me.

  27. The salvia ‘Black and Blue” is so pretty. I bought one for 1.00 last fall at a nursery close out sale, but it didn’t overwinter for me, so didn’t get to enjoy it. :-(I have a friend who does altered books…it’s a craft with so many creative possibilities!

  28. Hi Kate, Thanks for visiting my site and giving me the chance to see yours. I garrantee this won’t be my last stop by. Especially when we share a few common interests. (gardens, Aspergers Syndrome kids, old books)…..Having seen many pictures torn from old botanical books for sale in ‘art galleries’, and even on Ebay I am glad to hear that this beautiful book has a safe home.I also do not understand the term ‘Altered Book’…Being someone who struggles with stick figures, I admire anyone with an artistic bent… so don’t knock your efforts. Living in the subtropics I drool over the beautiful leaf colours you guys show off during autumn or even snow in winter…. Maybe 1 day when the kids are older, I will get to travel….

  29. 4 C is already quite nippy. Here we usually start the day with temps from around 7 to 12 C. For me it’s blogging that has made me far more aware of all the details of flowers and stuff in my garden.What a charming little book you bought!

  30. What a wonderful find your book was!! I love old books – and books about flowers are twice as nice. The photos and writing are simply lovely.

  31. Am thrilled to read yo are entering the world of altered book Kate – a perfect way to exercise the creativity when cooler weather pushes you inside. What a wonderful find the book is – lovely illustrations. Looking forward to seeing the results. You should take a look at Ro Bruns blog for some altering tips. She is a font of knowledge.Mxox

  32. Hey kate, great that you are taking a watercolor class. I hope you will post pictures of your paintings. It really does make you look at the world in a different light when you are painting. Starting to realize all the colors there are and also, how light plays such an important part. Glad you are enjoying the process. Please also show us what you are up to with your altered books. Would love to see them.

  33. 4 degrees – brrrr! Despite the chilly morning, it sounds like you had a lovely day. I want to see your watercolours of the leaves and your altered books! And what a find in The Wildflowers of England! The cover alone is beautiful, isn’t it? Are you going to alter this book or keep it untouched? I bought an old sermon book from an antique shop several years ago and altered it only to find out that it was worth hundreds of dollars so you might want to check online for its value…just a thought… 🙂 The quote from the books is gorgeous, too, isn’t it?

  34. Hmmm, you got lovely post today. First: I know excactly what you mean by paying more attention to flowers. I have paint some flowers too (on the little rocks). Pansies were my favourites.Second: I know this Aloe plant but havent ever seen it blooming! Wow!Third: I also tried some altered things last winter…Its very fascinating! BUT you cant cut your lovely book of wildflowers cant you? Oh boy what treasure you got!Hugs M (I also add you to my blog list)

  35. Hi! I blew in here from comments you left at Annie’s blog…just wanted to say that I’m digging that aloe bloom! I can’t get those blasted things to stay alive, much less bloom! Congratulations!

  36. i would love to try my hand at a watercolor class one day, but i fear paint and me will never be friends… i usually do my work (such as it has been lately) in pencil and ink…

  37. I am glad you find time to take a water color class. I feel that way when I take pictures with my camera, too. The first thought in my mind for a really great picture is, “Is that how I would like to paint it?” Sometimes it even turns out that way. 🙂 /Andrea

  38. Watercolor… that’s something I’d like to learn some day. When I started doing photography, I too started noticing more details, colors, and the way the light strikes things in different ways. It’s nice to “re-discover” ordinary things that way, when we really take the time to look in close. Lovely quote from the book…

  39. Kate,Anytime you have a question about your knitting, just ask! I’ll try to help you. At the very least I can explain the abbreviations.Willow

  40. Great to meet you, Kate … thanks for visiting. Always fun to see what keeps ‘bloggers’ together. Your site is filled with lots of ‘stuff’ I love … my home … filled with framed old botanical prints. My favorite people ‘live quietly’ in their own little corner of the world. Hats off to you and your charming site!

  41. Are you taking a water color class? How exiting!! I love to see your pictures some time:) Your flowers are still beautiful, even though the summer has passed for this year. Ladybug is gute:)I wish you a nice day,Love, chatrine

  42. First I must thank you for the recent comment you left for me, its always a pleasure to welcome a new visitor. What a bonus your painting class has resulted in, not only developing your artistic skills, but sharpening your observation of all that is in this beautiful world of ours.The Wild Flower book is indeed a treasure, have you looked for a date? it is often printed on the first page or two. I know the feeling of tissue pages too, it makes the experience of holding such a book that more special. Enjoy! Marion

  43. Thanks for visiting my blog. :)Your pictures are lovely! And what a wonderful book find!

  44. oh i love that book you found… its gorgeous…. that will probably be so fun to alter! what a gorgeous color ….

  45. I read your post above and it didn’t register at first. Here it is still quite warm for much of October. We alternate between shorts and sweaters! Actually, it often seems we go from summer straight to winter, skipping my favorite season. Remembering that you live in Canada and seeing the temp made me shiver a little for you. I don’t care for extreme temps in either direction.That book was such a steal! I’ve always been a detail person and I love to look at all the little things you mention here. Some day I’d like to learn to paint, but for now I’m content playing with my camera and dreaming of the day when I can buy my DSLR.Thanks for stopping by my blog. I’m sure this NaBloPoMo thing is going to bring a lot of interesting new blogs to my attention. I’m glad I came by for a visit to yours.

  46. Hello Kate, thanks so much for leaving a comment on my blog. I shall put your blogname in my favourites, your blog looks very pretty, and interesting. My salvia black and blue is still flowering too, and England in November is getting noticeably chillier!. I bought mine at the Hampton Court Flower Show in the summer and has been flowering ever since. Will visit again soon. x

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