Low winter light at Land’s End

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Low winter light at Land’s End

Not in Cornwall but at Qammieh Point, Malta.  The north-westernmost extreme of the island with the cliffs of Gozo silhouetted in the fading light.  A place of peace and solitude where the landscape consists of exposed garigue and is always breezy, even on the calmest of days.   Malta’s Land’s End: the furthest point north away from the urbanised south.

The low winter sun lights the plants from below, as if by some artificial spotlight, making the scene surreal and almost magical. Typical early spring vegetation, foremost amongst which the clump of white mignonette flowering stalks on the left and the giant fennel with its yellow bouquet to the right.

The white mignonette (Reseda alba).  Its Maltese name is the highly descriptive denb il-haruf: the lamb’s tail owing to its similarity to its wooly namesake.  Mignonettes belong to the plant family reseda. Reseda is the Latin word which translates into “to assuage” or “to calm” because these plant species purportedly possess sedative properties.  I do not know how true this claim is, but they definitely have visually calming properties as evidenced by their prominent and beautiful stalks in the photo: standing assertively and proudly but not menacingly.

The relative cold of the Mediterranean winter is slowly phasing into early spring: longer daylight, warmer temperatures and carpets of flowering species.  A short time of transition and beautiful light effects enjoyable for only a few weeks during the year.


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