"Pay attention to the world." -- Susan Sontag

Lilies of the Epic Kind (2 of 2)

From The Lilies by Henry Percival Spencer:

‘Tis passing strange this life of ours,
Nought in this world can we explain;
We are helpless as the flowers
Forced into life by April rain.

What reap we for our joy and pain
Except the hour in which it lives?
He who can fathom Loss and Gain
Can tell us what the Future gives.

The Lily comes, the Lily goes….

From Green Thoughts: A Writer in the Garden by Eleanor Perenyi:

“Sooner or later every gardener must face the fact that certain things are going to die on him. It is a temptation to be anthropomorphic about plants, to suspect that they do it to annoy. One knows, after all, that they lead lives of their own: plant the lily bulb in the center of the bed and watch it come up under a brick near the edge; pull up a sick little bush and throw it on the compost heap, and ten to one, it will obstinately revive.”


Here are a few more photos of my Tiny Epic Asiatic Lilies — some from the previous post along with a small handful of new ones (those whose backgrounds were very cluttered in the originals), all reprocessed on black.

Thanks for taking a look!

Lilies of the Epic Kind (1 of 2)

From Green Thoughts: A Writer in the Garden by Eleanor Perenyi:

“Some lilies are more vigorous than others. The June-flowering Asiatics don’t care what you do to them. They can be cut quite close to the ground and still return in full force the following year. The others seem to know they are more beautiful and expensive… and to cut them severely is to court their oblivion.”

From The Garden Triumphant: Victorian Garden Taste by David Stuart:

“You would know by the scent of the lilies that summer was here.”

The lilies in the galleries below — a variation of Tiny Epic Asiatic Lilies — are not actually tiny but they’re definitely epic. The flower petals unfold to the size of the open hand of a small person (me!), and with their striking colors and textures, they make great subjects for close-up photography. The petals are quite thick and silky to the touch, and you can almost feel tiny bumps where it looks like they’ve been sprinkled with cinnamon radiating from the center.

Unlike some lilies, these blooms lasted nearly a week — which gave me plenty of time to aim a macro lens at them and try different combinations of light and different camera settings before I settled on these photos. I’ve featured them here before (see, from last year, Epic Lilies (1 of 3), Epic Lilies (2 of 3), Epic Lilies (3 of 3)), so this time I concentrated on photographing just one or two isolated blooms and getting the focus, color, and textures as accurate as they appeared to me in the garden.

Thanks for taking a look!

A White Begonia, an Orange Hibiscus, and a Red Japanese Maple

From “Begonia (Begoniaceae)” in Garden Flora: The Natural and Cultural History of the Plants In Your Garden by Noel Kingsbury:

“Begonias are named for Michel Bégon, a French colonial governor, by botanist Charles Plumier (1646–1704), probably to thank him for giving him a post as an official plant collector in the colonies. They have been used medicinally, while one Chinese species, Begonia fimbristipula, is commercially available as a herb tea….

“Botanical classification is complex and the subject of several recent research projects. These are very much enthusiast plants: currently 66 sections are recognised and some 10,000 cultivars have been raised over time.”

From “Hibiscus (Malvaceae)” in Garden Flora: The Natural and Cultural History of the Plants In Your Garden by Noel Kingsbury:

“There are some 750 species of Hibiscus, whose name is derived from the Greek for the closely related mallow. Overwhelmingly they are found in the world’s tropical regions, both Old and New Worlds, and include trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals….

“In those temperate regions with warm and humid summers, the range in cultivation is boosted by a number of herbaceous perennial species from the U.S. Southeast, which have enormous flowers….”


Here we are at the end of the first week of November, and a bit of fall color is finally starting to paint its way into my neighborhood.

Over the past few days, this Japanese Maple in front of my living room window has turned dark red, its leaves casting a red-orange glow over everything in that room. I’m fascinated by the color, because of its unusual intensity and something else: this maple has lived for years in the shade of a gigantic street-side Bradford Pear tree that has made several previous appearances here, but that Pear is no more. It split in two a few months ago during an intense summer thunderstorm, falling against a telephone pole at the sidewalk in front of my house, then last week the remaining half-tree was cut down by city workers. So now the Japanese Maple is no longer hidden in the shade, and when early morning sun lights up this window, it’s gorgeous! The wild-n-crazy begonia growing there looks pretty cool too!

These two galleries show the last of my late summer/early autumn photos.

The first three pictures are blooms from a begonia called “Senator IQ” — one of three I have in pots on a patio table under an umbrella, where it grows well in the moderate light and sends its tiny flowers over the edge of the table to seek out the sun (as plants like to do). I prefer this kind of begonia because its leaves are very dark green — and that with the shade from the patio umbrella makes it easier to highlight the white blooms with minimal background darkening in Lightroom.

Here are some flowers from an “Orange Hibiscus” — which was the name on the handwritten plant tag in the pot I purchased it in. I’m not sure if that’s supposed to be its actual name, or someone just went for the obvious moniker. Anyway, I’ve renamed it OrangeOrangeOrange Hibiscus, because that seems to fit at least as well. The plant was mixed in with other annuals and perennials at the garden center, so I’m not sure if it will hold out through the winter and produce new blooms next year — but it’s still going strong and has added several inches to its leaves and stems despite cooler temperatures and darker days.

Here you see some of the blooms at various focal lengths through a macro lens. In several of the photos you’ll also see little swatches of pink or magenta near the center of the flower. At first I thought these were artifacts and started removing them in Lightroom, then realized (after a little research) that these magenta/pink highlights are colors in wavelengths intended to attract pollinators and direct them toward … the pollinating spot! Smart plant!

Thanks for reading and taking a look!

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