“The texture of spring flowers is especially lovely, the feel of a tulip petal is like lustrous old porcelain.”
—  Gladys Tabor, Stillmeadow Daybook

Watercolor sketch of tulips

Watercolor sketch of tulips

Watercolor sketch of tulip petals

Watercolor sketch of tulip petals


Ice Armor

January 10, 2013

Frost-rimed grasses in the garden

Frost-rimed grasses in the garden

“Every leaf and twig was this morning covered with a sparkling ice armor; even the grasses in exposed fields were hung with innumerable diamond pendants, which jingled merrily when brushed by the foot of the traveller.  It was literally the wreck of jewels and the crash of gems.”
— Henry David Thoreau, Journals, January 21, 1838

I remember ice storms from my childhood in Minnesota — every tree, branch and twig was coated in a clear shield of ice.  Too bright for unprotected eyes.  Precarious footing.  And yes, merry tinkling when the shards of ice fell down.

These frosty January mornings in Seattle are a less piercing pleasure — no crashing crystals, just a silent icy edging.  Here are some photos of this magical world:

These grasses looked like ribbon with their white edging giving a pleasant contrast

These grasses looked like ribbon with their white edging giving a pleasant contrast

Petal pattern, with frost

Petal pattern, with frost

Edged ferns

Edged ferns

Christmas colors!  Red and green.

Christmas colors! Red and green.

In the winter garden

In the winter garden

Layered maple leaves

Layered maple leaves

Nature's calligraphy

Nature’s calligraphy

The frost gives a new meaning to the idea of a white garden.

The frost gives a new meaning to the idea of a white garden.









Sunflower petals in a blaze like a ring of fire

Seed-paved eye with pot hole

Sunflower in the summer garden

Posterized image of sunflower

In the Community Garden
by Mark Doty

It’s almost over now,
late summer’s accomplishment,
and I can stand face to face

with this music,
eye to seed-paved eye
with the sunflower’s architecture:

such muscular leaves,
the thick stems surge.
Though some are still

shining confident,
others can barely
hold their heads up;

their great leaves wrap the stalks
like lowered shields.  This one
shrugs its shoulders;

this one’s in a rush
to be nothing but form.
Even at their zenith,

you could see beneath the gold
the end they’d come to.
So what’s the use of elegy?

If their work
is this skyrocket passage
through the world,

is it mine to lament them?
Do you think they’d want
to bloom forever?

It’s the trajectory they desire —
believe me, they do
desire, you could say they are

one intent, finally,
to be this leaping
green, this bronze haze

bending down.  How could they stand
apart from themselves
and regret their passing,

when they are a field
of lifting and bowing faces,
faces ringed in flames?

Roses from my next-door neighbor’s garden

Roses with bird feeder

Roses with cross-process effect

Rose petals with HDR-ish effect

“every rose
opened in perfect sweetness
and lived
in gracious repose,

in its own exotic fragrance,
in its huge willingness to give
something, from its small self,
to the entirety of the world.”
— from “The Poet Visits the Museum of Fine Arts” by Mary Oliver

You can read the entire poem at this link.

Souls in Bloom

June 22, 2012

Pink roses in bloom

“Summer: to be for a few days the contemporary of roses; to breathe what’s floating around their souls in bloom.”
— Rainer Maria Rilke

How lucky we are to be alive in June, the contemporaries and companions of roses!  This time I am air-drying a bowlful of soulful rose petals so that their special beauty will linger into fall and winter.

Rose petals from Carol’s fragrant bouquet

A potpourri of multicolored rose petals

The Kousa dogwood trees are blooming so profusely, the four-petaled bracts overlap like interlocking puzzle pieces.

Kousa dogwood

The “flowers” are actually modified leaves called “bracts.”

The dogwood bracts grow upright in tight rows

Looking up into a dogwood tree from below

Wouldn’t this make a lovely headband for a bride!

Patterns of dogwood bracts in reverse color


Consider the Petal

April 7, 2012

“It is at the edge of a petal
that love waits.”
— William Carlos Williams

“The height of the beauty of a bloom is its folded state, rather than when it’s fully opened.”
— Stanley Kunitz, The Wild Braid:  A Poet Reflects on a Century in the Garden

Star magnolia bud just opening

Unfolding flower, star magnolia

Star magnolia bloom

Opened blossom, star magnolia

Which do you prefer — the unopened bud or the unfolded blossom?



Faded Beauty

April 30, 2010

Last days of a red tulip

“The flowers anew, returning seasons bring,
But faded beauty has no second spring.”
     — Ambrose Phillips

The tulips are losing their sprightliness; many have lost their petals.  Beauty fades.  Can we let it go without regret?

“Beauty’s a doubtful good, a glass, a flower,
Lost, faded, brown, dead within an hour;
And beauty, blemish’d once, forever’s lost,
In spite of physic, painting, pain, and cost.”
     — William Shakespeare

The last few petals on this tulip stand like angel wings.

Fading beauty

Seed pods of spent tulips