Lantana is one of many flowering shrubs that are popular with southeastern gardeners, that also have relatives with a reputation for invasiveness when they grow outside of curated spaces. I have four varieties, three whose size is easily managed because they’re in pots, and one in a sunny corner of the garden that explodes into long stems during May and June, then blooms through the end of June and into July. By August, when most of the blooms have fallen off, the plant continues to add leaves and lengthening stems, which become thicker and woodier until early autumn when growth stops. I cut the entire plant down to just a few inches above the ground every fall, and some of the stems are so hard they have to be sawed off like small tree branches rather than just pruned. That’s when I can relate to what a burden it would be if it became invasive: the tangled lengths of stiff stems skewer off in every direction and present a challenge to cut back even in a relatively small, confined area.

In 2001, its reputation for wildness got Lantana a starring role in a melodramatic crime thriller named after itco-starring some humans — where an outgrowth of the plant was used to hide a body in an attempt to conceal a murder. Every fall when I hack mine back to the ground, I remember that movie, and the mood the opening scene created by panning from colorful lantana blossoms to a shadowy thicket of twisted stems, to gradually juxtapose the beauty of the blooms with the evidence that a crime had occurred.

This gallery — and the next three, coming soon — are photos of Chapel Hill Yellow Lantana (a few taken last year and reprocessed, most taken this year), growing in a large pot where it produces a substantial number of blooms with consistent blends of pale white, yellow, and an orange color that always reminds me of orange sherbet. I showed one of my varieties in last week’s Wordless Wednesday (Wordless Wednesday: Chapel Hill Pink Huff Lantana), and I’m working on images of Miss Huff and Landmark Citrus variations for posting later this month.

I played around with light and focus on these Chapel Hills to create different kinds of compositions; this gallery is representative of the next three, where the blooms will be shown as larger and more plentiful. The yellows and oranges seemed to pop nicely against the backgrounds, especially where I intentionally darkened greens, enhanced shadows, and applied some vignetting to isolate the blooms.

Thanks for taking a look!

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