Late Summer/Early Fall Lantana (4 of 4)

From The Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture (1917 edition) by Liberty Hyde Bailey:

“The culture of the florists’ lantana is relatively simple. It is grown under glass for bloom in cold weather and also in the open in summer. It has been improved in its usefulness as a bedding-plant of late years, largely through the efforts of French hybridists. The older varieties were mostly rather tall and lanky, later coming into bloom, and dropped their flowers badly after rain-storms, but were showy in warm and dry weather. The new varieties are dwarf, spreading and bushy in habit, early and free-flowering, and the heads or umbels of bloom average much larger, with florets in proportion; nor do they drop from the plants as did old varieties in bad weather….

“These newer kinds are not so well known as they should be. They are very desirable for any situation where sun-loving bedding plants are used, in groups or borders, window boxes, baskets and vases.”

From “Bedding Out” in Colour in My Garden (1918) by Louise Beebe Wilder:

“Lantanas were favourite bedding plants of yore….

“I remember that my father alway stood out for two lozenge-shaped beds of Lantana on the terrace in front of our old stone house, and how he gloried in their vivacious colours….”


This is the last of four posts featuring photos of lantana plants in my garden. The previous posts are:

Late Summer/Early Fall Lantana (1 of 4)

Late Summer/Early Fall Lantana (2 of 4)

Late Summer/Early Fall Lantana (3 of 4)

Whenever I see the word “yore” (as in the second quotation above) — which is of course not often! — I can’t help but think about the Friends episode called The One with the Apothecary Table, where Rachel Green tries to convince Phoebe Buffay that the apothecary table she bought from Pottery Barn was anciently manufactured in historical White Plains and purchased from a flea market for the “old time pricing” of “one and fifty dollars”. There’s a short clip of the episode here, where the first three and a half minutes include two of the apothecary table scenes.

If there’s such a thing as post-consumerist humor, The One with the Apothecary Table is a great example, where the characters as a group simultaneously love and hate mass-produced products, yet respond to the subtle (or not so subtle) advertised messages by opening their wallets and stuffing their apartments with objects from a catalog-created theme.

The episode is a fun play on history also. Subsequently asked to identify an historical era other than “yore”, Rachel adds “yesteryear” — and “yesteryear and yore” briefly re-entered American vernacular as a way to describe ambiguous time periods in the past. I’ve used them myself sometimes, sometimes together and sometimes separately; and the cultural pervasiveness of a series like Friends is so strong that almost anyone who hears the terms knows they’re actually a reference to the comedy of the apothecary tables.

Yesteryear — for example, in 2018 or 2019 or 2020 — I wouldn’t have even tried to convert some of the lantana photos from the previous three posts to images with black backgrounds, because the tiny spaces embedded in the central portion of the blooms were too difficult to brush out without bleeding black onto the flowers themselves. Until I spent several weeks practicing — especially on the Lilies on Black Backgrounds series from this past summer (where I describe my black background technique) — I didn’t have enough experience with Lightroom’s brushes to fill these areas with black where the surrounding structure was as intricate as it is on these lantana flowers.

With macro photos like these, depth is largely a contrast and shadow illusion, an illusion that overlooks the fact that all photographs are two-dimensional renderings of what our eyes would perceive three-dimensionally. Bright-to-dark transitions typically register in our minds as front-to-back perspective, and shadows around edges (as muted as they might be) contribute to that recognition. In other words, if I didn’t leave some of the shadows around the edges of the pink flower buds, those image elements would look flat to the eye, and, as a result, the entire image would look unnatural and artificial.

If you look at one of the original images — say this one, of the first photo below — you will see green color from the plant’s stems and leaves surrounding most of the pink center buds. On my “first draft” of these photos, I kept that green intact, but since most of them had no other green, it seemed distracting so I decided to try and get rid of it.

To remove the green without brushing around each of the little pink pillows, I used a Lightroom feathered and circular brush the size of the pink section only and clicked on a bit of green color toward the center. The feathering setting for the brush kept the pink color intact, retained most of the shadows at the edges of each pink bud, and replaced the green with a black that matched the rest of the background with a single press of the mouse button. No more green — and Voila! — the blossoms themselves totally look like they’re suspended in mid-air!

Thanks for reading and taking a look!

Late Summer/Early Fall Lantana (3 of 4)

From The Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture (1917 edition) by Liberty Hyde Bailey:

“Lantana have been long in cultivation, and it is difficult to refer the garden forms to botanical species. The species themselves are confusing. Most of the garden kinds are of the L. Camara type….

“In recent years, a strain of very dwarf varieties has become popular as border plants. The lantanas are free-flowering in winter and summer, but an odor of foliage and flowers that is disagreeable to many persons prevents them from popular use as cut flowers. They are very useful in window-gardens and the dwarf kinds make good subjects for hanging baskets….

“From the window they may be transferred to the open in summer, where they bloom profusely.”


This is the third of four posts featuring photos of lantana plants in my garden; the first post is Late Summer/Early Fall Lantana (1 of 4) and the second post is Late Summer/Early Fall Lantana (2 of 4).

The botanical confusion allusion in my quotation from the Cyclopedia above made its way into my researching around the web for quotes about lantana. The short version of the story, which I finally got a handle on, is this: the plant’s colloquial name as lantana was co-opted from the name of an unrelated plant — viburnum lantana — and older books will sometimes refer to garden or wildwood lantana as viburnum instead of lantana. And, to stumble my brain even a bit more, garden lantana is a member of the verbena family of plants — and some references in historical sources simply refer to lantana as verbena, especially references to wilder variations as opposed to varieties cultivated for gardens.

Make sense? haha! If it’s in someone’s garden, and it looks like my photos, it’s lantana camara. If not, it’s not!

Botany is a hoot!

Thanks for taking a look!

Late Summer/Early Fall Lantana (2 of 4)

From Beautiful at All Seasons: Southern Gardening and Beyond by Elizabeth Lawrence:

“Lantana is the saving grace of the fall borders. The dark leaves keep their color until frost, and the flowers bloom on and on. I noticed that butterflies return to them again and again, after short trips to other flowers.”


This is the second of four posts featuring photos of lantana plants in my garden; the first post is Late Summer/Early Fall Lantana (1 of 4).

Thanks for taking a look!

Late Summer/Early Fall Lantana (1 of 4)

From Beautiful at All Seasons: Southern Gardening and Beyond by Elizabeth Lawrence:

“For late summer I depend on lantana to fill in the gaps left by the earlier perennials that have finished blooming. It blooms best when the nights are cool, and comes into its own when its fresh foliage and gay flowers are most needed. Some years it blooms until Thanksgiving….

Some people dislike the gaudy orange and pink that is the characteristic color of the flowers, but by choosing among plants already in bloom, you can get a creamy white, a clear cool yellow, and a very good pink….

Lantana grows very fast and needs plenty of room to spread for it takes up at least three or four feet by the end of the season. If it is grown from seed, they should be sown under glass in February.”


This is the first of four posts featuring photos of several lantana plants in my garden, taken in August through mid-September. Mine don’t usually bloom through November, but may — if October isn’t too cold — push out a few new blooms until Halloween, after which I cut it back to nearly ground level then patiently wait until spring for the first appearance of tiny leaves on its very stiff and woody stems. Cutting it back is probably optional — and some gardeners don’t even recommend that — but I always prune mine to control its rapid and potentially explosive spread… and it doesn’t seem to mind!

Of the photos that will appear in this series, those in the galleries below show the smallest of the blooms, wee pinwheel shapes about an inch in diameter, demonstrating the flowers’ unique symmetry.

Thanks for taking a look!

Hydrangeas on Black Backgrounds (and Hunting for Hortense)

From A Complete Guide to Orchard and Garden, Volume 12, published in 1890 by J. T. Lovett:

“The hydrangea, with good reason, has always been a favorite inmate of the garden. It is true, that in the old days we had only Hydrangea Hortensia; but it had several places in the garden and a big one in the heart….

“On Long Island it was seldom winter-killed, and it may now be considered a hardy plant in the latitude of New York City, except in an unusually cold winter. The plant itself is rarely winter-killed. The buds on last season’s grown, however, are sometimes either killed or badly injured as to destroy the bloom; for it is on this growth that we depend for flowers. It was a more or less common practice, therefore, to drive stakes around the plant on the approach of winter, and cover the plants loosely with dead leaves when the ground began to freeze hard, but not before….

“With a simple protection of this kind, all the Japanese hydrangeas might be grown considerably north of New York.”

From 100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names by Diana Wells:

“The garden hydrangea was named Hortensia by Philibert Commerson, who accompanied Louis Antoine de Bougainville on his voyage around the world in 1766 (see ‘Bougainvillea‘). It is usually supposed that the name “hortensia” was after Mlle. Hortense, daughter of the prince of Nassau; the latter had joined Bougainville’s expedition in order to escape his creditors. But it is worth noting that the woman named Jeanne Baret, who had sailed on the voyage disguised as a boy (called Jean), changed her name to Hortense when she settled in France. We will never really know why. Anyway, in 1830 the name was changed to Hydrangea macrophylla (large leaved), by which it is now known.”

Here are the last of the summer 2021 hydrangeas, at least from me. I took a few of my favorite images from the previous three posts and painted the backgrounds black.

With the first day of autumn already in the past and the onset (perhaps temporarily) of some cooler temperatures here, I have only a few more summer flower photos (of lantana) to work on, then will go I-spying-with-my-little-eyes on some fall color hunting expeditions. I haven’t decided yet where that will take me, though I’m sure Oakland Cemetery and the nearby Grant Park will make the list, but I’ll also probably add the Atlanta History Center (which has a large woodland area surrounding the property); Fernbank Forest, an old growth urban wildwood not far from my home behind Fernbank Museum; and the humongous, recently opened, 280-acre Westside Park (whose Bellwood Quarry was used as a filming location for several episodes of The Walking Dead).

I selected the quotes at the top of this post after poking around on Google Books for references to hydrangeas in 19th-century publications. The first one (from a long-running gardening journal published in the mid- to-late-1800s) interested me by being situated in New York City and New York State, which — even in the far northern and short-summer part of the state I’m originally from — has gardens with giant hydrangeas blooming from late spring to early fall. A testament, I think, to the hydrangea’s hardiness and its ability to adapt to and tolerate a wide range of weather and soil conditions that it does so well in a region where summer lasts about twenty minutes.

That quote also mentioned “Hydrangea Hortensia” — which I knew to be an early hydrangea name, one that’s still not uncommonly used to describe hydrangeas, especially the large mophead varieties. As I have written about before, our gardens are populated with plants and flowers discovered and named during the 1800s and early 1900s, and hydrangeas are no exception. I started digging into the source of the “Hortensia” name variation and quickly fell into a Tiny History Rabbit Hole (should I trademark that phrase?) and found that while the story had similar characteristics wherever I read about it, it was not exactly clear which “Hortense” (referred to in the second quote above as “Mlle. Hortense, daughter of the prince of Nassau”) was the actual Hortensia Hortense.

Several hours and many Hortenses later, I landed on Hortense van Nassau from 1771, asked Google to translate that web page from Dutch to English, and had something I’d already expected more-or-less confirmed: the typical reference to “Hortensia” as named after Hortense de Beauharnais — she of Napoleon-adjacent breeding and briefly a Dutch queen — was unlikely since she wasn’t born until 15-20 years after Commerson dubbed hydrangeas with their early European name. Commerson’s Hortense was more likely the daughter of Karl Heinrich von Nassau-Siegen, who did join the Bougainville-Commerson expedition and was the dude “escaping his creditors” by spiriting himself away with the plant explorers. That dear Karl was a fortune-teller apparently didn’t include actually earning (or, I suppose, inheriting) a fortune. (Note to self: if you disappear into the woods for a few weeks, you’ll still have to pay your mortgage.)

Haha! I spent most of my Friday on this research … and of Hortenses and Hortensias you now know everything I know, which may or may not be enough.

My previous hydrangea posts for 2021 are:

Baby Bluebird … Hydrangeas (1 of 2)

Baby Bluebird … Hydrangeas (2 of 2)

More Bluebird Hydrangeas! (1 of 2)

More Bluebird Hydrangeas! (2 of 2)

Pink Mophead Hydrangeas (Five Variations)

Big Blue (and Black and White) Hydrangea Blooms

Thirteen Hydrangeas

Thanks for reading and taking a look!