“The development of lily cultivation has taken more than a century. A hundred years or more ago the catalogues of English firms offered L. candidum in variety, L. bulbiferum and its variety croceum in several varieties, L. pomponium, L. chalce-donicum, L. pyrenaicum, L. tenuifolium (now pumilum), and numerous varieties of L. Martagon. In the catalogues of today we find most of the lilies of the world, indeed practically all of the worth-while species. Many new hybrids and varieties are also found in the lists of specialists. From whence came all these lilies?
“As man arises from savagery and develops a civilization he concerns himself with those plants that provide food and shelter. As these needs become satisfied, they require less time and he concerns himself with the esthetic side of life. The beautification of his surroundings with plants receives consideration. The native plants are used first, but soon a desire for greater variety and exotic plants develops, and the gardens and wilds of foreign countries are searched for new material. The stories of these searches and the bringing into cultivation of new plants are often fascinating accounts of adventure and hardship.”
Midsummer. And after belligerent sun, twilight brings A muezzin of sea-wind, And the soul of the garden bows, A praise in the earth: Among Turk-cap lilies, suddenly, In the willow’s cool hair, The breath of God….
This is the last of three posts featuring Martagon Lilies from Oakland Cemetery’s gardens, where I took some of the images from the previous two posts and used Lightroom witchcraftery to convert their backgrounds to black.
From “Well-Known Lilies” in Lilies by Carl Feldmaier:
“The native Turk’s Cap, Lilium martagon, is… a rather modest bloom, well known only to the initiated. Pharmacists, naturalists, and mountain-climbers value the beauty and individuality of this lily, which is usually concealed beneath hedges and undergrowth and which flourishes in mountainous country at heights varying from low wooded slopes up to the middle ranges. It prefers calcareous soil, or at least calcareous subsoil. To stumble upon it growing wild, with its dull, rose, panicled blooms, under beech trees or among viburnum or buck-thorn, is a rare pleasure: one plant may be densely spotted, the next a little less so, and finally one will find a completely clear pink flower….
“This lily was already well known during the Middle Ages, principally on account of its yellow bulb, and was much sought after for its medicinal properties.”
End of August. Heat like a tent over John’s garden. And some things have the nerve to be getting started, clusters of tomatoes, stands of late lilies — optimism of the great stalks — but why start anything so close to the end?
As we just yesterday wrapped up Mugshot Week here in the city of Atlanta, I thought you might enjoy reading absolutely nothing about it from me — but instead I decided to share this excerpt about the early history of mugshots, from the book Capturing the Light: The Birth of Photography, a True Story of Genius and Rivalry by Roger Watson and Helen Rappaport. Those often-iconic images emerged alongside daguerrotypes, as a development from portrait photography that was so often the subject of early image-making. The nineteen present-day mugshots were all taken a few miles from my house, with the process mostly outside of public view — except for the former president’s extravagant trip into and out of the city, a spectacle that unfolded surreally along streets and past buildings I recognized — but they’ve achieved notoriety and wide circulation, just like the olden-day mugshots received.
Here is the excerpt, from a chapter entitled “The Mute Testimony of the Picture.”
“When [Henry Fox] Talbot first defined photography’s uses in his 1844 book The Pencil of Nature he had no concept of the many fringe uses to which the form would make a contribution — beyond a conventional role in portraiture, landscapes and architectural views, and the documentation of works of art and scientific collections. His inclusion of the reproduction of works of art foresaw photography taking on the task that engraving and lithography had long held and was one of the most forward-thinking uses of its unique features. Talbot’s notion of keeping a photographic record of one’s valuables, as well as legal documents such as wills and deeds, was a prescient insight into photography’s future, for if such things were ever stolen, ‘the mute testimony of the picture’, when produced against a thief in court would, he asserted, ‘certainly be evidence of a novel kind; but what the judge and jury might say to it, is a matter which I leave to the speculation of those who possess legal acumen’.
“This idea of photography being used in court was truly novel but the photograph’s deployment in crime detection was one of the first and most important offshoots of the new genre, though it didn’t start — as many people assume — with the Rogues Gallery of mug-shots compiled by the Pinkerton Detective Agency, which was the source of the well-known ‘Wanted’ posters seen in westerns later in the century. The Belgian police had been the first to experiment with photography in recording the likeness of criminals around 1843-4, and the Danish police had done likewise in 1851. There is evidence too that in the early 1850s in California the San Francisco Vigilance Committee had daguerreotypes made of offenders, and later in that decade the New York Police Department began keeping a photographic record as well….
“Nevertheless, in the early days the use of photography in crime detection and prevention was basically down to the enterprise of individual police departments and prison officers. One such in England was Captain [George Thomas] Gardiner, the ‘ingenious and excellent governor of Bristol gaol’, who in 1856 ‘possessed himself of a photographic apparatus’ for taking the photographs — at a cost of sixpence each — of those criminals he believed would be most likely to reoffend, so that these could be circulated to other forces….
“This principle had already been successfully put into practice in 1855 by a forward-thinking chief constable in Wolverhampton — Colonel Gilbert Hogg — in the pursuit and arrest of a confirmed female con-artist Alice Grey. Grey’s daguerreotype had been found among her abandoned belongings in a lodging house, but copies could not of course be made from it. The enterprising Hogg therefore took it to the photographer [Oscar Gustave] Rejlander (at that time based in Darlington Street, Wolverhampton), who made a calotype of it and printed twenty copies. When these were circulated to police stations across the country, they revealed a trail of fraud and deception dating back five years; the use of the photograph led directly to Grey’s arrest and successful prosecution.”
“L. martagon (the word comes from the Turkish martagan, a special form of turban adopted by Sultan Muhammed 1) is sometimes thought… to be an English native; but the Turk’s Cap lily is more likely to have been brought by early travellers from Italy, Spain or Turkey….
“It is a tall graceful lily, with many small flowers in pyramidal clusters, each with reflexed petals, which give the individual flowers their likeness to a turban. In color the martagon is usually a rich freckled purple, an unusual mahogany red or waxy white.”
Flowers can be cousins of the stars. The closing and speaking lips of the lily And the warning of the fire and the dust — They are in the gardens and the sky of stars. Beyond the shots of the light of this sun Are the little sprinkles, the little twinklers Of suns to whose lips this lily never sent A whisper from its closing and speaking lips.
Last year when I learned that the Martagon Lilies featured in this post (and the next two) were commonly called Turk’s Cap Lilies (see, for example, Turk’s Cap (Martagon) Lilies (1 of 3), where I first discussed it), I took it for granted that “Turk’s Cap” and “Martagon” were interchangeable names for the same plant — which seemed perfectly reasonable until I found out that other lilies (like Lilium superbum) have also been doffed “Turk’s Cap.” This ambiguity — which is present in the Peter Coats quotation uptop — always bugged me a bit, mainly because I try to get better at correctly identifying the plants and flowers I photograph, even while getting help from sources like PlantNet. So this year I did a little more digging around, to see if I could clear up my name fog over “Turk’s Cap.”
“Generally speaking, [lilies] are placed in one of nine divisions depending on their parentage, then assigned a series of letters that are designed to indicate the shape and habit of the flowers.”
She then describes the nine divisions, pointing out that three of these divisions — Division 2, Division 3, and Division 4 — include lilies with flowers in the Turk’s Cap shape. I was tempted to conclude that only these three divisions contained Turk’s Caps, but pretty quickly discovered that lilies in other divisions — such as Lilium cernuum in Division 5 and Lilium michiganense in Division 6 — bloom in Turk’s Cap shapes too. Ah, well, now I understand why Slade got a headache; but I think the best way to think about this is that “Turk’s Cap” is more properly thought of not as the name of a flower, but as the characteristic shape of some flowers, and what any of us know to be a “Turk’s Cap Lily” is more of a colloquialism, an informal way of referring to specific lilies that may also be localized to where you live (or where you see the lilies).
Slade’s description of the lily divisions is too long to quote here, but Wikipedia also describes the nine divisions (closely mirroring Slade’s explanation) at Lilium: Classification of garden forms — where the photos for lilies in each division are very helpful for visualizing how the similarities among variants get them classified as they are. For my purposes, I think I’ll get in the habit of trying to figure out what lily variant I’ve actually photographed when its shape is a Turk’s Cap, and I landed on Martagon for these lilies because of their dominant purple-red colors; the presence of dark purple (nearly black) spots on some of the flower petals; and the smaller size of the individual flower blooms. Further (though you can’t tell from the closeup photos below) the plant itself stood nearly six feet tall with several dozen blooming stems — both characteristics of (though not exclusive to) Martagon Lilies.
“Arguably the world’s most easily recognized and beloved flowers, lilies form a large, sprawling family of around 4000 species. It includes, first and foremost, true lilies, the glorious trumpet-shaped flowers of garden and florist and flower show….
“There are scads of lovely species to delight flower lovers, from the towering Chinese lily, Lilium henryi, spangled all the way to the top with gold-orange flowers, to the more modest, waist high Canada lily, L. canadense, which sports a good show of black-speckled orange to red flowers, candelabra style. You may have seen the evocatively named Turk’s cap ones, which have recurved petals; these originate from L. martagon and have been widely hybridized. The speckles, dots, or lines on some of these flowers function as air-traffic control for pollinators, guiding them toward the pollen in the center.”
“The ancient poets told that the hyacinth received its name from Apollo, who unfortunately killed his friend, the youth Hyacinth, and then turned him into a flower, that he might ever bathe in morning dews, and drink the pure air of heaven. He is said to have imprinted the expression of sorrow in black streaks upon the leaves of the flower. The ancient festivals at Sparta, dedicated to Apollo, and termed Hyacinthus, were held in memory of this event, and were commemorated by two days of mirth and festivity and one of mourning….
“The flowers mentioned by classical writers have been the subjects of many discussions; and as no marks are found either on the flower or leaf of the plant termed in modern language hyacinth, several flowers have been mentioned by different authors as the hyacinth of the poets….
“It is now, however, generally believed… that the ancient hyacinth was that red species of lily now called the Martagon lily, or Turk’s-cap. Virgil describes the flower as of a bright-red colour; and it was said to be marked with the Greek exclamation of grief, AI, AI. The black marks of the Turk’s-cap may, by a little help of the imagination, be considered to bear this inscription.”
This is the second of three posts showing Turk’s Cap or Martagon lilies I photographed at Oakland Cemetery’s Gardens earlier this summer. If you would like to read more about these lilies — and how I created two sets of seven photos in the styles below — see the first post in the series: Turk’s Cap (Martagon) Lilies (1 of 3).