Spring 2020: April Colors 7 (Clematis in Bloom, 3 of 3)

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

“Before recorded history, all cultures collected, used, and admired flowers not only for utilitarian purposes, but for their elusive fragrances and ephemeral forms that, ironically, symbolized recurring vigor and even immortality. They have enthralled and seduced us, exploiting entire civilizations to enhance their sex lives and spread their seeds. We give and receive flowers as tributes, and to commemorate life’s many triumphs and everyday events. Flowers accompany us from cradle to grave. As spices, they flavor our foods and beverages. We harvest their delicate scents, combining them into extravagantly expensive mixtures, for perfuming our bodies to evoke passion and intrigue….

“Flowers inspired the first artists, writers, photographers, and scientists, just as they do today on street corners, in florist shops and farmers’ markets, in books, paintings, sculptures, and commercial advertising. They moved online with ease.”

From Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn:

“Spring comes, the birds sing in the trees once again, leaves return to the trees which lost them, flowers bloom in the high meadows and on the slopes, streams overflow with waters of melting snow. Through it all, the mountain continues to sit, unmoved by the weather, by what happens on the surface, by the world of appearances…. As we sit holding this image in our mind, we can embody the same unwavering stillness and rootedness in the face of everything that changes in our own lives over seconds, hours, and years.

“May we continue to give ourselves over to what is deepest and best in ourselves, over and over and over again, encouraging those seeds of our truest nature to grow and flower and — for the sake of all beings near and far, known and unknown — nourish our lives and work and world from moment to moment, and from day to day.”

Here we are, on the last day of the month … we made it through April, mostly hunkered down but with occasional outdoor excursions, observing the birds that still sang, the trees that waved to life in their varied shades of green, and of course the plants and flowers that unrolled Spring 2020 like a blanket of color, texture, and shape. What will May bring? More uncertainty, more unknowns, probably more confusion … and, for me, new collections of irises, wisteria, and spiderwort — from photos I’ve taken over the past few weeks — along with more photos of any other flashes of color that catch my eye.

For this last clematis collection, I altered variations of images from the previous two posts to remove the background — something that creates nice contrast with the purple, violet, and magenta colors prominent in these blooms. For the first gallery, I used Lightroom brushes to patiently paint the backgrounds black, following (in slow motion!) the outer lines created by each petal. For the second and third galleries (showing a Bernadine Clematis), I used radial filters instead of brushes, to create the impression of light fading from the center of the bloom to each petal’s edge.

The previous posts in this series are:

Spring 2020: April Colors 6 (Clematis in Bloom, 2 of 3): and

Spring 2020: April Colors 5 (Clematis in Bloom, 1 of 3); and

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 reading and taking a look! See you in May!





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Spring 2020: April Colors 6 (Clematis in Bloom, 2 of 3)

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

Most open by dawn’s first light or unfurl their charms as the day progresses. Others unwrap their diaphanous petals, like expensive presents, after dark, waiting for the arrival of beloved guests under a radiant moon. We know them as flowers. They are nature’s advertisements, using their beauty to beguile and reward passing insects or birds or bats or people willing to attend to their reproduction. The beauty of their shapes, colors, and scents transforms us through intimate experiences in our gardens, homes, offices, parks and public spaces, and wildlands. Importantly, flowers feed and clothe us. Their fruits and seeds keep the world’s 7.2 billion people from starvation. Flowers represent our past along with our hope for a bright future.

So what is the point of a flower exactly? Have you ever wondered about that? I know I have, so I started reading Stephen Buchmann’s book The Reason for Flowers: Their History, Culture, Biology, and How They Change Our Lives (I am just on page ix) and the quote above is from the book’s preface. Normally I only include quotes here from books I’ve already read, but since I’ve got gobs and gobs of flower photos still to process and post (and more to take!), I think I’ll work through the book as I progress through the photos — and post about both. About halfway through the book is a section called “Flowers in Literature, Art, and Myth” that I imagine will be especially interesting to me as I often poke around trying to find references to flowers in fiction, poetry, art books, and photography books. I’ve never really puzzled that much about why I even like taking pictures of flowers (and plants and trees more generally); but like many things that stick to us as we grow up, I think that interest stems (at least partly) from exploring forests near my family home. I still remember the first time I came across a batch of tiny pink lady slipper orchids growing among shed needles of large pine trees while I was out wandering one day, and being fascinated by their delicacy and shape, and the luminous color woven throughout the shade of the trees.

The delightful flower below is a Bernadine Clematis, which made its first appearance here last year (see Clematis Variations: Gallery 1 of 2). One of the two plants I bought didn’t survive an unseasonable May 2019 heat wave; and the second while diminished in size quite a bit, sprang back enough to produce a small cluster of blooms. The first gallery below shows the blooms on the morning they opened, and the rest of the photos follow the blooms for a few days as they reached full size.

The previous posts in this series are:

Spring 2020: April Colors 5 (Clematis in Bloom, 1 of 3); and

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 reading and taking a look!





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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!




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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.”


Hello!

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!






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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!






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