Spring 2020: April Colors 7 (Clematis in Bloom, 3 of 3)

From The Reason for Flowers: Their History, Culture, Biology, and How They Change Our Lives by Stephen Buchmann:

“Before recorded history, all cultures collected, used, and admired flowers not only for utilitarian purposes, but for their elusive fragrances and ephemeral forms that, ironically, symbolized recurring vigor and even immortality. They have enthralled and seduced us, exploiting entire civilizations to enhance their sex lives and spread their seeds. We give and receive flowers as tributes, and to commemorate life’s many triumphs and everyday events. Flowers accompany us from cradle to grave. As spices, they flavor our foods and beverages. We harvest their delicate scents, combining them into extravagantly expensive mixtures, for perfuming our bodies to evoke passion and intrigue….

“Flowers inspired the first artists, writers, photographers, and scientists, just as they do today on street corners, in florist shops and farmers’ markets, in books, paintings, sculptures, and commercial advertising. They moved online with ease.”

From Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn:

“Spring comes, the birds sing in the trees once again, leaves return to the trees which lost them, flowers bloom in the high meadows and on the slopes, streams overflow with waters of melting snow. Through it all, the mountain continues to sit, unmoved by the weather, by what happens on the surface, by the world of appearances…. As we sit holding this image in our mind, we can embody the same unwavering stillness and rootedness in the face of everything that changes in our own lives over seconds, hours, and years.

“May we continue to give ourselves over to what is deepest and best in ourselves, over and over and over again, encouraging those seeds of our truest nature to grow and flower and — for the sake of all beings near and far, known and unknown — nourish our lives and work and world from moment to moment, and from day to day.”

Here we are, on the last day of the month … we made it through April, mostly hunkered down but with occasional outdoor excursions, observing the birds that still sang, the trees that waved to life in their varied shades of green, and of course the plants and flowers that unrolled Spring 2020 like a blanket of color, texture, and shape. What will May bring? More uncertainty, more unknowns, probably more confusion … and, for me, new collections of irises, wisteria, and spiderwort — from photos I’ve taken over the past few weeks — along with more photos of any other flashes of color that catch my eye.

For this last clematis collection, I altered variations of images from the previous two posts to remove the background — something that creates nice contrast with the purple, violet, and magenta colors prominent in these blooms. For the first gallery, I used Lightroom brushes to patiently paint the backgrounds black, following (in slow motion!) the outer lines created by each petal. For the second and third galleries (showing a Bernadine Clematis), I used radial filters instead of brushes, to create the impression of light fading from the center of the bloom to each petal’s edge.

The previous posts in this series are:

Spring 2020: April Colors 6 (Clematis in Bloom, 2 of 3): and

Spring 2020: April Colors 5 (Clematis in Bloom, 1 of 3); and

Spring 2020: April Colors 4 (White, Orange, and Red-Red); and

Spring 2020: April Colors 3 (Purple and Yellow (and Yellow and Purple)); and

Spring 2020: April Colors 2 (Catawba Grapevine); and

Spring 2020: April Colors 1.

Thanks for reading and taking a look! See you in May!





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Spring 2020: April Colors 6 (Clematis in Bloom, 2 of 3)

From The Reason for Flowers: Their History, Culture, Biology, and How They Change Our Lives by Stephen Buchmann:

Most open by dawn’s first light or unfurl their charms as the day progresses. Others unwrap their diaphanous petals, like expensive presents, after dark, waiting for the arrival of beloved guests under a radiant moon. We know them as flowers. They are nature’s advertisements, using their beauty to beguile and reward passing insects or birds or bats or people willing to attend to their reproduction. The beauty of their shapes, colors, and scents transforms us through intimate experiences in our gardens, homes, offices, parks and public spaces, and wildlands. Importantly, flowers feed and clothe us. Their fruits and seeds keep the world’s 7.2 billion people from starvation. Flowers represent our past along with our hope for a bright future.

So what is the point of a flower exactly? Have you ever wondered about that? I know I have, so I started reading Stephen Buchmann’s book The Reason for Flowers: Their History, Culture, Biology, and How They Change Our Lives (I am just on page ix) and the quote above is from the book’s preface. Normally I only include quotes here from books I’ve already read, but since I’ve got gobs and gobs of flower photos still to process and post (and more to take!), I think I’ll work through the book as I progress through the photos — and post about both. About halfway through the book is a section called “Flowers in Literature, Art, and Myth” that I imagine will be especially interesting to me as I often poke around trying to find references to flowers in fiction, poetry, art books, and photography books. I’ve never really puzzled that much about why I even like taking pictures of flowers (and plants and trees more generally); but like many things that stick to us as we grow up, I think that interest stems (at least partly) from exploring forests near my family home. I still remember the first time I came across a batch of tiny pink lady slipper orchids growing among shed needles of large pine trees while I was out wandering one day, and being fascinated by their delicacy and shape, and the luminous color woven throughout the shade of the trees.

The delightful flower below is a Bernadine Clematis, which made its first appearance here last year (see Clematis Variations: Gallery 1 of 2). One of the two plants I bought didn’t survive an unseasonable May 2019 heat wave; and the second while diminished in size quite a bit, sprang back enough to produce a small cluster of blooms. The first gallery below shows the blooms on the morning they opened, and the rest of the photos follow the blooms for a few days as they reached full size.

The previous posts in this series are:

Spring 2020: April Colors 5 (Clematis in Bloom, 1 of 3); and

Spring 2020: April Colors 4 (White, Orange, and Red-Red); and

Spring 2020: April Colors 3 (Purple and Yellow (and Yellow and Purple)); and

Spring 2020: April Colors 2 (Catawba Grapevine); and

Spring 2020: April Colors 1.

Thanks for reading and taking a look!





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Spring 2020: April Colors 5 (Clematis in Bloom, 1 of 3)

With most of my nearby worlds still shut down, my spring photography will for some indefinite time alternate between my-garden photo shoots and Oakland Cemetery photo shoots, both locations presenting plenty of subjects to keep me busy. On a nice day earlier this week, I did go over to Oakland for a bit of iris-hunting — as irises are making an appearance in any spot sunny enough to encourage them to bloom — and encountered more than a dozen varieties in every imaginable color between white and black. I had never actually seen black irises in real life; the black is strangely reflective of surrounding light, picking up deep purples from other parts of the flower that glowed in the camera’s viewfinder. Ah, but that’s for another day; this post doesn’t feature iris photos — I’ve got plenty of work to do on them before I can share — but it is the first of three posts featuring clematis blooms in my back yard.

When planted in pots, the growth of clematis vines is somewhat restricted, so all the blooms they’re going to produce for the season tend to come and go in a week or two. Mostly they’re already gone, having dissolved and blown away during some recent thunderstorms, so they live only here on my blog now rather than in the back yard. The first gallery shows a few of the flower buds on the day before they bloomed; the rest are, of course, some of the blooms.

The previous posts in this series are:

Spring 2020: April Colors 4 (White, Orange, and Red-Red); and

Spring 2020: April Colors 3 (Purple and Yellow (and Yellow and Purple)); and

Spring 2020: April Colors 2 (Catawba Grapevine); and

Spring 2020: April Colors 1.

Thanks for taking a look!




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Spring 2020: Easter Sunday

From “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey” in Selected Poetry of William Wordsworth:

With an eye made quiet
by the power of harmony,
and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.


From Dutch orchestra performs ‘Ode to Joy’ from self-isolation:

“Musicians in the Netherlands who are self-isolating due to the Covid-19 pandemic have recorded a virtual version of Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy‘. Members of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra performed the Anthem of Europe from their homes. Each individual part was then added to a final mix, along with an archive recording of a choir segment. The song, part of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, has been adopted by the EU as the European anthem.” 


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Spring 2020: April Colors 2 (Catawba Grapevine)

From “Time” by Susan Hill and Rory Stuart in The Writer in the Garden by Jane Garmey:

“There is a continuity about the garden and an order of succession in the garden year which is deeply pleasing, and in one sense there are no breaks or divisions — seed time flows on to flowering time and harvest time; no sooner is one thing dying than another is coming to life….

“Perfect moments come in every garden…. To the very active gardener they may not be of great importance and usually they will be happy accidents, lucky moments when, chancing to glance up, the gardener will see that this or that grouping of plants at the height of their flowering looks exactly right, because of the way the light falls on them…. The moment will be pleasing but fleeting and its transience of little importance when there is satisfying work to be done….

“Awareness of when such moments are most likely helps to make them happen; they will not be entirely accidental but anticipated; everything will be planned to encourage them. This gardener will be out in the very early morning and from late afternoon, attentive to small changes in the quality of the light and the atmosphere, as well as to every nuance of the season, which combine to create perfection. Late sunlight will slant for just a few minutes on a variegated shrub placed against a dark, evergreen background; the assertive evening calling of blackbirds and the scream of swifts round and round the rooftops calms and stills as darkness gathers; pale flowers, translucent whites, pinks and chalky blues stand out in the dusk, sharp yellows and oranges are defined separately as dimmer, subtler tones retreat into the spreading shadow. Water on a pool goes dark blue and then black at one particular moment, just as the moon rides up into a clear sky. The dew rises and with it the fainter scents which have been blotted out by the heat of the day. Now, all should be quiet, still; the air is so transmissive that any sharp sound or acrid smell will startle and upset the delicate equilibrium in the garden. Conversation and even company are inappropriate…. 

“Such moments are to be enjoyed alone. They are the reasons why some people have gardens.”

Below are a couple of galleries showing early growth on a catawba grapevine in my garden. As new vines start to appear each spring, the leaf tips emerge with a distinct purple tint — almost like they’ve been lightly brushed with that color. It only lasts a few days, and I never even noticed it until I aimed a macro lens at the vines three or four years ago. Now, this color marks time in my garden — like the quotation above implies — and its a marker of early spring that fades to shades of light green shortly after it appears. The two galleries show a similar series of images; the second one includes variations at a closer zoom level.

Thanks for taking a look!




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