The Changing Seasons – July 2020

This challenge is hosted by Su from Zimmerbitch. You can find out how to participate at the end of this post!

I am not going to dwell on the pandemic or the behaviour of stupid selfish people this month. I am heartily sick of both.

So July started with a welcome week off work. Things had been pretty full-on since returning in Mayand needed a change of pace. That said, I started the repot of my bulb collection. I used to do this annually but the sheer amount of work involved made me drop it to every two years. This is still a challenge so this time I have massively reduced the collection and posted a lot of plants off to friends. I have managed to get about 2/3rds of the collection done and hope to do the last bits during weekends so that my next week off (late August) I can relax and do creative things.

So here is the greenhouse looking quite tidy after repotting has moved on from here.

There are some flowers and other signs of life at the far end though:

Conophytum bilobum – an odd form with red anther filaments
Conophytum bolusiae, flowering through completely dormant bodies.
First bulbs showing signs of life at the end of summer dormancy – Strumaria aestivalis
A cactus – Gymnocalycium ragonesei

Outside on the raised bed, the lovely pink ‘dandelions’ of Crepis incana are at their best in early July:

Crepis incana

Somewhat smaller is Campanula raineri. This is a magnet for slugs and hates our wet winters, so this might be its last hurrah!

I have two lovely friends who share the same name – Sarah.

Firstly, my work friend Sarah ‘paid’ me for doing the guinea pig drawing I showed last month:

Then my WP buddy and collaborator – Sarah from Art Expedition sent a lovely card whose words really touched me. Thank you Sarah.

Speaking of matters creative. My Instagram followers have already seen this finished drawing:

But the process was fun too. I like this punk rock stage:

I got to use my creativity at work too, taking lab photos for our publicity, this instrument is not modern enough to boast about but I think it looks way cooler than modern sleek featureless boxes. The plumbing above the white circular thing in the middle was my own invention/addition from around 1998. The instrument itself is at least a decade older and my colleague Helen saw one in the Manchester Science Museum a year or two ago! We are certain it is the last one functioning in the world as only a few were made by a man last heard of selling insurance! I have not used this thing since 2006 but can still operate it well enough to troubleshoot if Helen has issues with it.

Finally. The last week of July saw some devastating news. My department head, Professor Richard Shore, died suddenly on Tuesday 28th. He was a world renowned ecotoxicologist, a great manager and a lovely, kind, person with a great sense of humour. I liked and respected him immensely.

If you would like to join in, here are the challenge guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

  • Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to Su’s original post, she can update hers with links to all of yours.


  1. I’m so sorry to hear of your HOD’s death. Losing a work colleague (especially a good manager) is difficult. Work relationships can be so strong — yet so often sit apart from the rest of our lives, making grief seem awkward and not always explicable to others outside of work.

    Always great to see your gardening endeavors, and the Conophytum bolusiae shot in particular is really good.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you Su. I was reading his remarks from my appraisal in June when writing this and he was his usual supportive self. I will miss him.
      I have been lucky. In my 28 years in this job this is only the second time I lost a close colleague. Coincinentally the first was a young lady from New Zealand who was killed in a road accident in NZ on xmas eve 2003 when visiting her family. Her favourite colour was purple and I wear something purple for our annual accreditation audit each year in her memory and for luck.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. I don’t think anyone else was involved either – she just lost control and went off a cliff.
          My employers were great – they paid an extortionate amount to fly her closest colleague and friend out to NZ on Boxing day so she could go to the funeral.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m sorry for your loss. It sounds like your colleague will be missed by many.

    I had to do a double take at your greenhouse photo. I can only imagine the before if this is the after you’ve downsized your pots and bulbs! Also how interesting to see the WIP of your illustration. I usually draw eyes first, so it was fun to see the punk rock stage of the drawing. Hope you can enjoy your garden and the goodies in your gift basket–just looking at it makes me hungry. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you my friend😍
      Previously all the shelves on the lower tier were full too..
      I have made bigger gaps in the two frames outside as these bulbs would be easier to replace if I ever decide to expand again.
      Looking back at my previous animal drawings I think I always did the eyes quite late in the process. Not sure why. Perhaps because it is adding these that makes them come alive? I wish I had done the eyes before the punk rock stage though as I think it would be a funny image😉❤
      The goodies in the basket have now mostly gone. The biscuits went quite early!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Sad news to end your month, Darren. It rather does take the shine off the rest of the month. I am sorry for your loss.
    Thank you in any case for the beautiful flower photos. Your greenhouse is rather imposing. What is this nifty trick whereby you plant the pots into a sand/gravel mix?
    And your orangutan baby artwork is just so wonderful. You are so very talented. I understand that pencils are not very forgiving if you make an error. Is this true? If it is, that makes your artwork even more of a masterpiece.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Tracy. A week after Richard’s death we are all still hurting.
      The plunging pots idea is an old one used by growers of alpine plants as it helps keep temperatures and moisture in the pots more even and provides some insulation against freezing. It can be a pain – especially when weeds germinate in it!
      Thank you for you kind comments on my drawing. Graphite pencils are easy to erase but these colour ones are not. I am always worried that I might ruin something I have spent days on already but it rarely happens, thankfully!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Losing a friend is always hard, Darren. I don’t think you ever get over it.
        I like your plunging pot idea. The same technique is used to keep keep perishables cool in hot countries with no refrigeration, using large clay pots nested in another pot with sand in the cavity between them. The sand is kept wet. I’ve never thought of using the idea to protect pot plants.
        You are doing such wonderful art with your coloured pencils. When I mosaic I constantly make mistakes and rip up tiles that don’t look right. I think I would find coloured pencil art quite a challenge.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Is that why wine amphorae in ancient greece and rome had conical bases for standing in sand? I had not realised it was to keep the contents cool but it makes sense.

          Thank you. One reason I am so slow is terror at the thought of having to start again!😂

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Again I am so sorry for your loss, dear friend. It must have been such a shock for you and your colleagues. His humour and kindness are wonderful things to remember him by.

    I’m still so in awe about your greenhouse and all the work you put into it – and during the heatwave no less!

    Still so happy that my card made it – I have send three other ones (to Dominique, Su and another blog friend) and none of these have reached their destinations yet. 🙁

    Wow! Can I draw something for the other Sarah as well?! 😂😉 Looks like a picnic feast!

    And thanks for all the flower pics, they always cheer me up! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Sarah. You can see his humour in that photo I think.
      Post to Dominique seems very slow. It is not unusual for it to take three weeks or more. Clearly the Montreal postal service is pretty laid back.
      The other Sarah would be delighted to hand over some of her ‘commissions’ from her family! It stops her from doing her own creative work. She recently spent a year or more doing a superhero mural for a kids bedroom. It looked fab from the photos though! At least I could take the promised guinea-pig one off her hands to shorten the waiting list a bit 🙂 The ‘payment’ was a total surprise, but a nice one 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve heard from two that their cards arrived so now it’s just the one for Dominique – I really hope it will make it!
        Those family commissions sound very familiar: my mum had the same thing going on and never found time to do her own work. So when they started pestering me with requests I said NO!! 😂

        Liked by 1 person

          1. She used to work as a porcelain painter at the KPM (Royal Porcelain Manufacture), so yes, she’s a creative person too. 😉 Sadly not very active in the arts though anymore because of arthritis in her hands. 😦 I really should post some of her paintings one of these days! Her father was also extremely talented. It must be kind of weird to be the first in the family to be artsy!

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Arthritis is horrible. Susan’s mum was crippled with it from her late 40s and it badly affected all the knitting etc she loved doing.
              And the lady who played keyboards with the band Pulp has suffered since her teens. It must be so awful if it affects your way of making a living too.
              Yes, my creativity is definitely not genetic. I was also the first in my family to be educated to degree level. X

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Same here, about the degree. 😄 Yes, arthritis is a bitch (pardon my French). It makes me so angry that almost always people who love being creative are the ones who get it really bad. 😬

                Liked by 1 person

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