Summer 2020: Lily Variations (2 of 10)

From John Muir Ultimate Collection: Travel Memoirs, Wilderness Essays, Environmental Studies and Letters by John Muir:

“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.

From “The Ecology of Perception: An Interview with David Abram” in Emergence Magazine:

“[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.


It’s August!

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!





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Summer 2020: Lily Variations (1 of 10)

From John Muir Ultimate Collection: Travel Memoirs, Wilderness Essays, Environmental Studies and Letters by John Muir:

“So extravagant is Nature with her choicest treasures, spending plant beauty as she spends sunshine, pouring it forth into land and sea, garden and desert. And so the beauty of lilies falls on angels and men, bears and squirrels, wolves and sheep, birds and bees….

From Wanderlust by Rebecca Solnit, quoting Walter Benjamin:

“[To] lose oneself in a city — as one loses oneself in a forest — that calls for quite a different schooling. Then signboards and street names, passers-by, roofs, kiosks, or bars must speak to the wanderer like a crackling twig under his feet, like the startling call of a bittern in the distance, like the sudden stillness of a clearing with a lily standing erect at its center.

From Walden and Other Writings by Henry David Thoreau:

“I have passed down the river before sunrise on a summer morning between fields of lilies still shut in sleep; and when at length the flakes of sunlight from over the bank fell on the surface of the water, whole fields of white blossoms seemed to flash open before me, as I floated along, like the unfolding of a banner, so sensible is this flower to the influence of the sun’s rays.


It was a big surprise to me a few weeks ago to come across at least a dozen different varieties of lilies growing on the cemetery plots, among the gravestones and mausoleums, and planted in memorial gardens at Oakland Cemetery. Actually, the whole experience of taking photographs of plants and flowers at the cemetery has been surprising: the variety of native plants throughout the property rivals sections of Atlanta Botanical Garden — which is now social-distantly opened again, but not yet deemed sufficiently safe by The Photographer. Although, to be fair — and despite the feisty, national-newsmaking conflict between Atlanta’s mayor and Georgia’s governor over mask mandates — the botanical garden and other public adventures have established their own masking requirements, so maybe in August or September when the temperatures drop a bit will see me returning there with my camera.

Irregardlessly (haha! that’s not a word!), I’ve enjoyed the cemetery differently during these two 2020 seasons, probably because it had been a few years since I’d spent a lot of time there — and during that time, the caretakers seems to have added a lot more flowering plants, bushes, and shrubs than I remembered. Hunting down and photographing the lilies was fun, partly because many of the plots were constructed three or four feet above the paths and roadways (you can see examples in the second gallery here) — to make it easier for nineteenth century women in their full bustles and petticoats to step from a horse or carriage onto the grasses and gardens — which gave me the chance to snapshot large drooping lily flowers from unusual angles. The last three images below demonstrate what I mean: I would have had to crawl on the ground (where the dirt lives!) to get to that vantage point but for the raised plots.

Select any image if you would like to see larger versions in a slideshow. 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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Lily of the Nile (Baby Pete): Gallery 2 of 2

Here is the second of two galleries featuring my Baby Pete Lily of the Nile. The first gallery is here: Lily of the Nile (Baby Pete): Gallery 1 of 2.

This is a seriously cool plant. The resident Gardener and Photographer expects it will pose for another photoshoot soon, just for fun!

Thanks for looking!

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Lily of the Nile (Baby Pete): Gallery 1 of 2

Several times each week during the month of May, I took a series of photos of a lily that I added to my garden in April, as a way of chronicling its growth. It’s a variation of Lily of the Nile, a hardy plant that builds clusters of blooms on tall green stems, and so far has produced about a dozen such clusters since I got it. I don’t know why it’s called “Baby Pete” — but I assume someone somewhere had a good reason for that.

According to Wikipedia, a Lily of the Nile may live 75 years. Which means! When I’m in my 120s, I’ll still be taking pictures of this plant — by then most likely with my eyeball camera and macro contact lens, followed by post-processing with Adobe Lightroom sensors embedded in my fingers, then direct uploading from my networked brain stem. Good times!

No special notes to provide about how I processed these photos. I made use of radial filters as I described in Before and After: Yellow and Green (and Lightroom Radial Filters) then passed each one through Nik Collection’s Color Efex Pro, mostly to remove color cast and improve contrast. This first gallery shows the plant up to the point where the flowers were just starting to stretch open; in the next gallery, I’ll show the clusters in bloom.

I’m working on the companion piece to Before and After: Yellow and Green (and Lightroom Radial Filters) where I’ll write about how I used Lightroom’s mysterious Tone Curve panel, and add my contribution to the general confusion on the web about what this function actually does. I’m also working on 134 photos of the four kinds of Lantana in my garden, the images that I kept after culling about six hundred that I took of those plants.

134 photos! Argh! This may take some time….

Thanks for reading and taking a look!

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