“It was as if nature had fingered every leaf and petal that very day, readjusting every curving line and touching the colors of every corolla; and so, she had for not a leaf was misbent, and every plant was so placed with reference to every other, that the whole garden had seemingly been arranged like one tasteful bouquet. Here we lived a fine, unmeasured hour, considering the lilies, every individual flower radiating beauty as real and appreciable as sunbeams.“
“[Ordinary] human experience of the world is a sense not just that everything is alive, but that everything speaks, that all things have their expressive potency, although most things don’t speak in words. Everything is expressive. The colors shimmering from a blossom speak to me. They affect my mood. Of course, birdsong is a kind of speech, cricket rhythms, but even the splashing speech of waves on the rocks or the wind in the willows itself is a kind of voice that rushes and hushes through the chattering leaves.“
If you’ve ever spent time in any southeastern U.S. state during mid- to late-summer, you know that heat, sunglass-requiring sun, and intense humidity punctuate most days — and on those days most outdoor activity takes place in the morning then starts to subside as the air heats up and thickens with moisture. During that same time, if you take a close look, you’ll already see tiny signs of autumn blending into the landscape, in the tendency of some plants and vines — in my garden, hydrangeas and grapevines — to shed their dried blooms or drop a few early leaves in response to days shortening ever so slightly. My Concord grapevine’s leaves are as reliable as calendars: their early yellowing and leaf-dropping starts right on time during the first week of every August, and I already know that within a few days, I’ll start cutting them back and twisting some of the branches to prep the vine for winter and for next spring. And one of my three Japanese maples produces spinner-like seedlings at this time of year, long before the leaves begin to change color and to the delight of squirrels that hang upside down in the tree like daytime vampire bats, filling their faces with seeds and discarding sliced-off bits of branches all over the courtyard for The Photographer to sweep up.
For whatever reason, my own Baja daylilies didn’t bloom this year, and with the shutdowns in the spring, I didn’t replace or repot them even when I realized they weren’t going to bloom. Gardens can be mysterious like that: sometimes they throw out a behavior change that leaves you wondering why a plant that flowered regularly for half a decade suddenly decided to do something different. Hopefully, next spring will see us all in better shape than we were this last spring, and some of the things I had to neglect will get the renewed attention they deserve. All the more reason, for now, to savor the large collections of lilies I found at Oakland Cemetery.
Here are three more galleries from my lily series — the previous post is Summer 2020: Lily Variations (1 of 10) — with the last gallery showing versions of those in the first two with the backgrounds removed. Select any image if you would like to see larger images in a slideshow.
Thanks for taking a look!