"Pay attention to the world." -- Susan Sontag
The Whites of March (2 of 2)

The Whites of March (2 of 2)

From Sacheverell Sitwell’s “Forward” to Irises: Their Culture and Selection by Gwendolyn Anley:

And now, having created the light and stillness that are needed, we will walk further and look for the first signs of the irises….

From Irises: Their Culture and Selection by Gwendolyn Anley:

There is no beauty in the world Today but had its birth in Yesterday, its cradle in the lap of Time. The modern iris with its amazing range of colour and its perfection of form is but a development of the primitive flower which graced the earth when the world was young.

There is a touch of romance in the fleeting glimpses we catch of the iris as it makes its occasional appearances in history, art and medicine down the ages. The modern botanist tells us that when we are bidden to ‘consider the lilies’ we should, in point of fact, consider the irises…. If we accept the botanist’s statement — and there is no reason why we should not do so — it is evident that two thousand years ago the iris was recognised as a type of perfection and even considered to transcend in beauty the resplendent trappings of a king….

This is the second of two posts featuring white blossoms from one of my photo-shoots at Oakland Cemetery’s gardens. The first post is The Whites of March (1 of 2).

There are quite a few iris varieties on the property, and while I would have expected to see plenty of unopened iris buds in March, these large whites in full-sized full bloom were a surprise. PlantNet identified this as Iris albicans — also known as a white cemetery iris, so it certainly belonged where I found it!

The dominance of so many white-bloomed flowers this March — pears, spirea, quinces, snowdrops, snowflakes, and early daffodils — prompted me to wonder whether or not white (or yellow) flowers typically bloomed earlier than others, and if so, why. Among my gardening and nature books, the question wasn’t addressed specifically, but I found this article about the phenomenon…

Why are the First Flowers of Spring Often White or Yellow?

… that explains that early seasonal pollinators are mostly flies, flies don’t detect color but do detect brightness and contrast, so many of the first spring flowers get their attention by being … bright white and bright yellow. Or, to adopt an early-bird-catching-worms metaphor: the early (white and yellow) bloom catches the flies!

As I often like to do — and this works especially well with irises because of their large blooms and petals — I used Lightroom’s brushes to remove backgrounds from a few photos of the same flowers.

Select any image to see larger versions in a slideshow (then select View Full Size if you would like to see more detail — definitely worth a look).

Thanks for taking a look!

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