Winter Heliotrope

Winter can be a dull and depressing time of year, especially for me.  The butterflies, dragonflies and drag racing are only for the warm seasons.  The light is usually too poor to get decent shots of birds so I often sulk around the place feeling gloomy.  This winter has been quite mild only a couple of frosts so far which means February and March will probably be inundated with snow and ice!  Due to the (fairly) clement weather the garden has a touch of colour.  One rose is still in bloom, that’s seven months solid, be a shame to prune it back in a few weeks time.  The winter heathers are starting to flower also primroses!  One plant that has done well this year is the Winter Heliotrope.

Winter Heliotrope (Petasites fragrans

This plant is the perfect ground cover.  We had a dead area beneath a weeping willow tree alongside a large conifer hedge.  The heliotrope took to it with gusto soon covering the spot with it’s large heart shaped leaves.  The bonus is that in December it sends up these 8in (200mm) spikes of flowers which have the most gorgeous deep scent of vanilla.  I find it strange for it to have it’s flowers now when there are no pollinators about.  If you are thinking of adding this plant to your garden be warned it’s a bit of a thug.  It spreads by rhizomes and can quickly take over.  In the autumn we removed some of the hedge and built a raised bed to fill the spot.  The bed is 8in high but already the heliotrope is appearing!


On the 10th of January we had the first full moon of the year which is called the wolf moon it also coincided with a penumbral eclipse.  Thought I would try and get a shot as I’ve never photographed the moon before.  I used my 300mm lens but still had to crop.  The settings were iso 1000, f8, 1/800s using a tripod.  I did have to alter the white balance to get the colour right.

Bark at the moon

31 thoughts on “Winter Heliotrope

  1. Yes, commiserations about the dreadful Winter months. It does make me wonder why I live in a cold barren northern outpost of Europe. We had a FAB break to Tenerife just before Christmas and it really cheered things up. Thinking about going back in April to add to the 9 species of butterfly we recorded in December. Good to break up the dull grey with some sunshine.

    Nice pics as always!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Peter. Yes you had a great time in the Canaries (except Mary 🤮) A spring return would be a good kick start to the year. Got to wait ’till May for a holiday then we are back to Berlin to see the sprog and a chance to see what flies around the German capital. Until then got to keep pacing the room and shouting at the better half!

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  2. For what it’s worth, I believe the moon is the same ‘colour temperature’ as the sun (which figures, it’s sunlight bouncing off after all that we photograph). So Daylight white balance is a good starting point.

    You can use your finest resolution and max zoom, then digitally blow it up even more huge.
    My own problem is getting focus—but hey, whenever we see the moon here and I get the chance I work on it. Sometimes …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the tips Argus, might pop into the digital darkroom and see what I can produce. Was wondering if I should have used a polarising filter to cut the glare? Anyway next lunar eclipse I will be more prepared.


      1. No … I don’t know if moonlight is polarised, but the filter will reduce the light and lengthen your exposure. Could be worth a try, if brief enough? (moving target.) (I’ve ended up with some weird moons, I tell you …)

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  3. I either need to start reading slower or cut back on the horror movies for when I saw this ” We had a dead area beneath a weeping willow ” I read “We had a dead man beneath a weeping willow” and I nearly jumped out of my seat. Reread it my readers on this time and I had to chuckle at my mistake. Mighty interesting plat that heliotrope is – almost appears as if it is giving winter the finger ha – oh and odd to see green on the ground, as we’ve been whitewashed as of late (another 2-3″on its way tonight) Cool moonshot – we are blessed with little ambient light out here in the country so oftentimes I’ll simply walk out and stare up at the Milkyway and wonder.

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    1. No the dead are buried elsewhere in the garden….. nah only joking…. or am I?
      Maybe that plant would struggle to flip anyone off in all that snow you get. Not much light pollution here either and I sometimes see the milkyway, ever tried counting the stars? It’s a right bastard when you lose count!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Liz. Keep saying to myself ‘spring will soon be here’, luckily we don’t have winters like some!
      The moon eclipse is why the colour is pinkish (except for the very top) half an hour later it was bright white. Would love to get a numbria eclipse when the colour is much darker.


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