"Pay attention to the world." -- Susan Sontag

Do You Know Dipladenia? (3 of 3) / Notes on Seasons Changing

From “Magdalen Walks” by Oscar Wilde in The RHS Book of Garden Verse by the Royal Horticultural Society:

See! the lark starts up from his bed in the meadow there,
Breaking the gossamer threads and the nets of dew,
And flashing adown the river, a flame of blue!
The kingfisher flies like an arrow, and wounds the air.

And the sense of my life is sweet!
though I know that the end is nigh:
For the ruin and rain of winter will shortly come,
The lily will lose its gold, and the chestnut-bloom
In billows of red and white on the grass will lie.

And even the light of the sun will fade at the last,
And the leaves will fall, and the birds will hasten away,
And I will be left in the snow of a flowerless day….


This is the third of three posts featuring dipladenia flowers from my garden. The first post is Do You Know Dipladenia? (1 of 3); and the second post is Do You Know Dipladenia? (2 of 3). For this post, I took a few of the photos from the previous two, twisted them into slightly different crop formations, then painted the backgrounds black.

This post marks the last of my spring and summer photographs for 2022 — about 240 photos from my gardens, and about 480 from my ‘hood (mostly Oakland Cemetery’s gardens but also Grant Park’s Grant Park). Since I use Lightroom to organize my photo projects — and separate the projects by year and season — I thought it was fun to compare this year to last year, and found that I posted almost (within 10 percent of) the same number of photos as 2021. Weird, that, because in my imagination I thought I had posted a lot less this year… but I guess not! I’m blogging at a pace of six to eight posts a month — each with new photographs and many with new writing — which seems to keep me at a reasonable balance between maintaining a site and regular life.

A heightened level of new fall color has blanketed my city over the past couple of weeks, presenting between bouts of rain when the sun comes out. While some of the first-turning, more boring leaves had hit the ground early, Japanese and other maples in particular are just now absolutely glowing in red, orange, and yellow — waiting patiently for someone’s (I wonder whose!) camera. Late season flower-bloomers like mums, daisies, coneflowers, goldenrod, and anemone, however, have recently been photographed and are in my “to be processed” Lightroom collections. My back yard is covered with discarded oak leaves from my neighbor’s tree to the height of the dog’s knees, demanding (but not yet getting any) attention. At the same time — with Thanksgiving under our belts (so to speak!) — the boxes of Christmas decorations have been dragged from their oh-so-tight storage spaces and are strewn about the house in various states of disorganization. Is this what multitasking is supposed to be for? I always thought that concept was strange; I mean: isn’t it true that only one thing gets done at a time? Those decorations — as I write this — aren’t putting up themselves!

I treated myself to a second Christmas tree for my home office this year — a six-foot slim or pencil tree, as they’re often called — and stood it up a couple of weeks ago shortly after it was delivered (I couldn’t resist!), then festooned it with a few hundred multicolored lights and a delightful batch of red, green, and gold shatterproof ornaments. The Dog — or The Photographer on his behalf — is a big fan of shatterproof ornaments because one of us likes to walk by the tree and bat at the low-hanging glitterlicious objects with his paw. For some reason he believes that’s forbidden, even though I’ve never reacted or tried to correct him for doing it. Funny how they know such things, isn’t it?

I often see him out of the corner of my eye when I’m at my desk as he does this: he sneaks forward one step at a time, checks to see if I’m looking, takes another step or two until an ornament’s within reach, checks on me again and if I don’t make direct eye contact taps it with his paw to get it swaying… then rests on his haunches to marvel at the motion he’s made. I’ve tried to take a few photos to catch the little elf in action — but me picking up the camera he thinks is a signal we’re going outside, so he races to the back door before I can get the shot. Ah, well, we’ll keep trying; and since we bought the tree so we’d have something new to photograph (and play with!), we may still manage a shot of the pup pawing its decorations over the holidays.

(Haha! True story: as I was proofreading this post, he tried it again: snuck up to the tree and glanced toward me, but I looked right back at him and I swear he pulled a guilty face then ran into the kitchen for a drink of water. Dog-crime makes a canine very thirsty, apparently!)

Thanks for reading and taking a look!

Do You Know Dipladenia? (2 of 3)

From “White” in The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St. Clair:

“‘For all these accumulated associations, with whatever is sweet, and honorable, and sublime, there yet lurks an elusive something in the innermost idea of this hue, which strikes more of panic to the soul than that redness which affrights in blood.’

“So wrote Herman Melville in the forty-second chapter of Moby-Dick. Entitled ‘The Whiteness of the Whale,’ the passage is a veritable homily on the troubling, bisected symbolism of this color. Because of its link with light, white has laid deep roots in the human psyche and, like anything divine, can simultaneously inspire awe and instill terror in the human heart….

“White has long been intricately connected with money and power. Fabrics, including wool and cotton, had to be heavily processed in order to appear white. Only the very wealthy, supported by battalions of staff, could afford to keep the fresh lace and linen cuffs, ruffs and cravats worn in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries pristine. This connection still holds true.”


This is the second of three posts featuring dipladenia flowers from my garden. The first post is Do You Know Dipladenia? (1 of 3).

These white variations — this one is called “Dipladenia Rio White” — start out with a light pink tint as you can see in the first image below. The blooms contrast nicely with the dark green leaves and vines, and it seems that the white varieties produce more flowers than the other colors I’ve grown… though this might be just a coincidence.

Like the red ones, the opened flower has a bright yellow center, one that — when it captures early morning or late afternoon light at a low angle — shows off an iridescent glow. That glow is most apparent in the last seven photos in this series, which I photographed about a half-hour before sunset.

Thanks for taking a look!

Do You Know Dipladenia? (1 of 3)

What Is Dipladenia, and What Makes It Different from Mandevilla? by Alyssa Brown:

“Dipladenia is a flowering plant you’ve likely seen before, either at your local nursery or growing in a friend’s pollinator garden. Most recognizable for its bushy leaves and trumpet-shaped flowers, this tropical plant thrives in pots, in the ground, and in hanging baskets. Horticulturist and gardening expert Melinda Myers has been growing dipladenia for about 30 years — ahead, she shares everything there is to know about the plant, including what makes it different from its relative, mandevilla.

“‘Dipladenia is botanically in the mandevilla genus, but they used to be separate,’ says Myers…. The two names are commonly used interchangeably, she says, but there are some differences between the plants. Dipladenia, for example, tend to be more shrub-like in appearance, with smooth, glossy leaves, while mandevilla has longer, thinner, textured leaves that are less bushy; this plant looks more like a vine. Both plants’ flowers are similar, but dipladenia blooms are often smaller — plus, this iteration changes all the time, thanks, in part, to its popularity: Growers are regularly introducing new varieties, some of which include new bloom colors, larger blooms, denser foliage, or types that act more like a vine….”


As you might have gathered from the title (and the quote above) the flowering plants featured in this post (and the next two posts) are called: dipladenia, a nice roll-off-the-tongue kind of name that you might find hard to say if you were drunk. Over the years, I’ve alternated between buying dipladenia or their relative mandevilla every spring: sometimes, I buy whichever one I find first at the garden centers; other times, I’ve bought them specifically for smaller pots so wait until the little dips are available. Despite some naming confusion, mandevilla is usually associated with larger vines, typically sold in a big pot with the vine already heavily entangled on a plastic or bamboo trellis. Both are very common and grow quite rapidly here in the southeast; the smaller, bushier plant — the dipladenia — works quite well on the back steps leading to my courtyard, and, unlike the mandevilla vine, never grow so long that they need frequent pruning or manual detachment from whatever structure happens to be nearby.

Both plants are annuals, and, from my experience, they’ll flower well into fall, even if there are plenty of cold nights. By now — mid-November — flowering tends to stop, but their hardy vines and leaves will keep on growing (a bit more slowly) through much of the winter unless there’s a multi-day stretch of temperatures well below freezing, and then all the leaves fall off. Despite their small size, they produce an enormous volume of roots: when spring comes and I replace them, I get to cuss profusely as I cut and tug and pry the roots out of the pots and always wonder where all the soil went.

Despite having a big batch of plant, gardening, and botany books, I didn’t find any references to either plant, the plants’ family name (Apocynaceae), or some of their common names (rock trumpet, rocktrumpet, or trumpet vine, and possibly (from the olden days yore) dogbane), which led me to dig around on the internet and find an equally small amount of information. Perhaps I’ll keep digging — note to self: watch out for rabbit holes! — but, for now, we’ll just have to enjoy the pictures. These are the red ones (sold as “Dipladenia Rio Red”). In the next post, I’ll feature white ones (my favorite of these flowers); and in the last post, I’ll upload a handful of each on black backgrounds.

Thanks for taking a look!