Summer 2020: Lily Variations (5 of 10)

From “The Arrival of Fall” by Lauren Springer, in The Writer in the Garden by Jane Garmey:

“Fresh, vibrant June passes to a languid, slow July. Then comes a turning point, when summer suddenly feels utterly tiresome. Some years, late summer weather is kind and merciful, indulging the gardener in a quick turn to cool nights and days filled with a mellow, amber sunlight that actually feels good on the face, totally unlike the prickling and piercing rays of high summer. Other years, the wait is interminable, summer’s heat oozing on well into months traditionally autumnal….

“Just as fall is a time for letting go, for riding with the slow, melancholy yet beautiful decline toward the inevitability of winter, it is also a time for loosening up rigid color rules. What may jar in the May and June garden is a welcome sight in October. Colors have richened and deepened with the cooler temperatures and golden light. The sunlight of autumn softens the boundaries that in spring and summer define orange, red, magenta and purple…. Nature combines cobalt skies, red and yellow leaves and purple asters; the gardener does well to take inspiration from these stunning scenes.”


The first day of autumn was a few weeks ago, yet here in the Southeast we have our own transition from summer to fall that I’ve designated as a new season. It’s called Summerfall.

Summerfall’s most notable characteristic is that it’s cold enough in the morning to crank on the furnace, but warm enough in the afternoon that you need a bit of the air conditioner. Temperatures will swing as much as 30 or 40 degrees between dawn and dusk, before they settle into a narrower range that presages winter.

Summerfall only lasts a couple of weeks — usually winding up in late October — and it’s only toward the end of the month that the leaves around town start to shed their greens and reveal all their fall colors before they need raking and sweeping and bagging up. With the sun tilting toward its winter angle, all those green leaves look super-saturated right now — which in part accounts for how early fall can seem so emotionally soothing after the long, hot months of July, August, and (here in the south anyway) early to mid-September. The galleries below are a recap of the lily photos I’ve posted so far; and I’ll be using this tween-season to finish up my summer photos in a few final posts while I also begin photo-hunting for the first appearances of fall color among the plants in my garden and the surrounding neighborhood.

For those interested in what I’ve written (see here and here) about the upcoming general election in the United States, below are two websites I’ve recently been visiting to keep tabs on early voting, and one I’ve found that describes the ballot processing rules for each state. That third site is useful (note the column “When Ballot Processing Begins”) for an important reason: it undermines the false idea that we will not know the results of the election for many days, weeks, or months (as the president and his campaign have tried to claim) since many states start processing ballots well before November 3.

Tracking Absentee Votes in the 2020 Election

National 2020 General Election Early & Absentee Vote Report

Absentee and Mail Voting Policies in Effect for the 2020 Election

Also: Please VOTE!


We are counting on each other to change the world.


The previous posts in my summer this series are:

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (1 of 10)

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (2 of 10)

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (3 of 10)

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (4 of 10)

Thanks for reading and taking a look!



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Summer 2020: Lily Variations (4 of 10)

From “The Golden Children” in The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm: The Complete First Edition by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, translated and edited by Jack Zipes:

“So the husband went fishing … and he fished and caught the golden fish a third time.

“‘Listen,’ said the fish. ‘Take me home with you and cut me into six pieces. Give two to your wife to eat, two to your horse, and plant two in the ground. You’ll reap a blessing by doing this. Your wife will give birth to two golden children, The horse will produce two golden foals. And two golden lilies will grow from the earth.’

The fisherman obeyed, and the fish’s prophecy came true.”


I don’t have a fishing pole, so I’ll never know if I can get two kids, two horse babies, and two lilies from one six-parted fish. If you try it — let me know how things work out!

Below are a few more lily images from my trips to Oakland Cemetery. For these golden yellow ones, I got as close as I could without stepping on a ghost, then zoomed in to capture the blossom’s interior detail, then erased the backgrounds to emphasize the yellow and green colors.

Select any image if you would like to see larger versions in a slideshow.

The previous posts in this series are:

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (1 of 10)

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (2 of 10)

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (3 of 10)

Thanks for taking a look!



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Summer 2020: Lily Variations (3 of 10)

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

“Once Alice takes her fateful first step through the looking glass, she finds a pleasant garden where the flowers talk… but have only the least regard for her. Instead, they await the arrival of the Red Queen…. “

From Alice in Wonderland (Norton Critical Editions) by Lewis Carroll and Donald Gray:

“‘O Tiger-lily!’ said Alice, addressing herself to one that was waving gracefully about in the wind, ‘I wish you could talk!’

“‘We can talk,’ said the Tiger-lily, ‘when there’s anybody worth talking to.’


Tiger Lilies!

Below are five variations of images of a single Tiger Lily that I found while wandering around Oakland Cemetery. Imagine my surprise to learn that Tiger Lilies — one of the few lily varieties I photographed that I could actually identify — have nearly identical relatives called “Leopard Lilies” and “Panther Lilies” by some people, apparently because we humans are fond of naming things after animals we admire. Once I learned that, I headed back over to the cemetery to see if I could find some with different spot patterns (and to see if they would talk!), just to call them by the names I had recently learned … but, alas! (who says that?!?) there were none left because summer’s dragging its hot way toward fall and most of the lilies have turned into leaves.

The previous posts in this series are:

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (1 of 10)

Summer 2020: Lily Variations (2 of 10)

Thanks for taking a look!




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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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