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!


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

From A Philosophy of Walking by Frederic Gros:

“It’s true that you can go out sometimes just to ‘get some air’; some relief from the weighty immobility of objects and walls. Because you feel stifled indoors, you take a breather while the sun is shining out there; it just seems unfair to deny yourself the exposure to light. Then, yes, you go out and take a step round the block, simply to be outside rather than to go here or there. To feel the lively freshness of a spring breeze….

“One who goes out with a light heart, and a wish to put aside for a moment his labours and his fate. Only thus — with no expectation of a specific profit from the outing, and with all cares and worries firmly left behind — will a stroll become that gratuitous aesthetic moment, that rediscovery of the lightness of being, the sweetness of a soul freely reconciled to itself and to the world.”


Here are a few more photos in my spring 2020 series. The first gallery shows an early bloom on a recently planted magnolia tree; and the photos in the third gallery and the final black-background image are azaleas. Those in the middle gallery — with orange paintbrush-like leaves — haven’t been so easy to identify; but I think you’re seeing there early growth on a Buckeye Bush. I’ll likely head back over to Oakland Cemetery’s gardens next week to see if I can find these plants again, and get a picture with more pieces to it to help with identification.

The previous posts in this series are:

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!


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

From Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology by David Abram:

“To exist as a body is to be constrained from being everything, and so to be exposed and susceptible to all that is not oneself — able to be tripped up at any moment by the inscrutability of a pattern one cannot fathom….

“Whether sustained by a desire for spiritual transcendence or by the contrary wish for technological control and mastery, most of our contemporary convictions carefully shirk and shy away from the way the biosphere is directly experienced from our creaturely position in the thick of its unfolding. They deflect our attention away from a mystery that gleams and glints in the depths of the sensuous world itself, shining forth from within each presence that we see or hear or touch. They divert us from a felt sense that this wild-flowering earth is the primary source of itself, the very wellspring of its own ongoing regenesis. From a recognition that nature … is self-born…. And hence that matter is not just created but also creative, not a passive blend of chance happenings and mechanically determined events, but an unfolding creativity ever coming into being, ever bringing itself forth….”

From “In the Ground of Our Unknowing” by David Abram in Emergence Magazine:

“[While] this plague enforces a temporary distance from other humans, there is no reason not to lean in close to other beings, gazing and learning — for instance — the distinguishing patterns of the bark worn by each of the local tree species where you live. No reason not to step outside and pry open your ears, listening and learning by heart the characteristic songs and calls of the various local birds; no reason not to apprentice yourself to a spider as it weaves its intricate web in front of the porchlight. Or to practice recognizing and naming — as I have been — the different types of clouds that are conjured out of the blue by the scattered mountains in this region, the wispy brushstrokes and phantom ridges and clumped clusters that congregate and dissipate in the high desert sky….

“Estranged from direct human contact for a brief while, we’ve a chance to open a new intimacy with the wider world we’re a part of, with coyote and owl and aspen. Soon enough, if it’s not already happening where you are, spring will be exploding out of all those budded branches. And that is a goodness.”

The first quotation above is from one of my favorite books by David Abram, Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology. It’s one of those books that shows how much meaning can be embedded in a few words; and while it’s written in a sometimes obtuse, slightly meandering style, every paragraph comes back to the book’s central themes about our relationship with nature, and how our connections with the natural world are critical to our existence as human beings — especially as creative beings for whom nature can be a source of inspiration and sensuous experience. You might read the quote more than once, to be rewarded by the challenge of absorbing it.

The second quotation popped into my inbox just yesterday, from my email subscription to Emergence Magazine — a recently launched web periodical that combines excellent writing and fascinating imagery to explore ecology, culture, science, and creativity. The article In the Ground of Our Unknowing, also by David Abram, prompts readers to extend their exploration of the natural world in these disconcerting times, to better understand our human world. Definitely worth reading, if these ideas interest you.

I still have a few dozen photos to process and upload from trips to Oakland Cemetery’s gardens earlier this year, and below are four galleries from one of those trips. The first gallery shows a variety of plum tree, from which I removed all the yellow, orange, and green colors — mostly in the background — leaving only colors in the blooms to create this monochromatic look.

The second gallery shows a Japanese Kerria, a reedy shrub that produces clumps of long, thin branches that like to wave at you in a spring breeze. The tulip in the third gallery is likely either a Wild Tulip or Lady Tulip (or a Wild Lady Tulip … nah!) and in the last two of the four photos a tiny nectar-drinking bee hovered just long enough for me to take it’s picture. The final gallery is of course of an iris, one of the earliest blooms I found, though it’s difficult to identify the specific variation since I didn’t buy it myself and keep the little plant tag. 🙂

The previous posts in my April Color series are:

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

Spring 2020: April Colors 1.

Thanks for reading and taking a look!


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.” 


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!