“Some lilies are more vigorous than others. The June-flowering Asiatics don’t care what you do to them. They can be cut quite close to the ground and still return in full force the following year. The others seem to know they are more beautiful and expensive… and to cut them severely is to court their oblivion.”
“You would know by the scent of the lilies that summer was here.”
The lilies in the galleries below — a variation of Tiny Epic Asiatic Lilies — are not actually tiny but they’re definitely epic. The flower petals unfold to the size of the open hand of a small person (me!), and with their striking colors and textures, they make great subjects for close-up photography. The petals are quite thick and silky to the touch, and you can almost feel tiny bumps where it looks like they’ve been sprinkled with cinnamon radiating from the center.
Unlike some lilies, these blooms lasted nearly a week — which gave me plenty of time to aim a macro lens at them and try different combinations of light and different camera settings before I settled on these photos. I’ve featured them here before (see, from last year, Epic Lilies (1 of 3), Epic Lilies (2 of 3), Epic Lilies (3 of 3)), so this time I concentrated on photographing just one or two isolated blooms and getting the focus, color, and textures as accurate as they appeared to me in the garden.
“[The Clematis] flower bud is enclosed by the sepals, which protect the inner workings of the flower. As it grows and expands, the sepals open up and become much more colorful, just like the petals within.”
“Many plants, besides possessing tendrils, have a stem and leaf-stalks, which grow in a spiral slope, when the plant requires the support of another. Thus the traveler’s joy, or wild clematis, that beautiful ornament of our summer hedges, by its stems as well as tendrils, so clings to the bushes that it is impossible to sever a large portion without tearing it. The large clusters of flowers, and the numerous dark leaves, seeming to belong to the brambles among which they entwine, so closely are they interlaced by the convolutions of their stems.”
The fabulously oppressive heat and humidity that settled on large portions of the U.S. last week made outdoor activities — including photography! — possible only in short bursts, but it did give me some indoor time to work on a backlog of photos. This week is supposed to be even hotter, though much lower humidity may mean outdoor-things are more possible, especially in the mornings. Yesterday and today I heard the upcoming high temperatures referred to as a heatwave, heat blast, heat bomb, and heat dome — but I really think that if they’d just call it a “heat igloo” we’d all feel a lot cooler…. or not!
Earlier this year I posted photos of flowers from one of my clematis vines — see One Clematis, Two Clematis — but somehow I forgot about pictures I’d taken of another one: the Bernadine Clematis whose images appear below. My third clematis plant — a President Clematis (see President Clematis, from 2021) never bloomed this year: it started producing flower buds very early during a warm February, but they all got crinkled to death by a week of freezing temperatures shortly after. That’s a weird new weather pattern that This Gardener hasn’t quite figured out how to work with: early year temperatures in the 60s and 70s cause some plants (in my garden: clematis vines, hydrangeas, and ferns) to respond to the warmth by putting out delicate new growth too early, then they never quite recover from the freezing that follows.
I’ve posted photos of Bernadine here a few times; so this year I just took a double-handful of new photos, and focused on getting sharpness, color, and texture as correct and accurate as possible. This Bernadine blooms into a striking mix of blue, purple, violet, and magenta, in stripes that emanate from the center. The center structure features the deepest purple, so rich in color that it always reminds me of purple marzipan with a tiny yellow frosting cap. But I did not try to eat them, I promise; I only took their pictures.
“A small deciduous tree, the flowering dogwood belongs to the understory in a hardwood forest, occupying the middle space between the ground and sky, providing nectar for pollinating insects, branches and foliage and fruit for perching and nesting songbirds, nutrients for the soil, ingredients for medicines, wood for bowls and shuttles and tools, and an open invitation for an aging man to reflect on his walk in the sun, to reconsider his relationship to nature, to pay attention to the worlds revolving in his memory, his imagination, and all around him.”
This is the third post in a series featuring photos of dogwood blooms that I took a few weeks ago. The first two posts are:
His description of dogwoods as “understory in a hardwood forest, occupying the middle space between the ground and sky” caught my eye. It may be a literary flourish; but, also, it’s a fitting characterization of the way natural spaces develop (or redevelop) in layers, in a kind of hierarchy of shorter then taller and taller plants, with each layer serving its purpose in the creation of a woodland, forest, or even garden, as lower layers sometimes (and eventually) get supplanted. Reading the Forested Landscape by Tom Wessels is an excellent introduction to interpreting the history of such natural spaces, and — if the subject interests you — I definitely recommend it.
From the book — which focuses on New England in the United States as the author’s source for instruction — you can learn how to observe a natural space and understand decades of its development, based on the appearance of trees and tree trunks, layers of plant growth, the impact of past fires or storms (called “disturbance histories”), and man-made events and structures such as dividing land into pastures by plowing and creating boundaries with the upturned stones. You will also read about tiny plants called “basal rosettes” that are evidence of new beginnings for a wild area; how a tree develops a split or “coppiced” trunk; the meaning of “deadfall” and how broken trees will push up “stump sprouts” because they’re not as dead as they look; and what “pillows and cradles” mean in the appearance of landscapes. These are just a few of the delights contained in its 200 pages, which will teach you to see every natural space with brand new eyes.