Disproportionate Blooms

February 10, 2011

Early crocuses

Yellow crocuses

“The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size.”
     — Gertrude S. Wister

A yellow flower

Ode to Some Yellow Flowers
by Pablo Neruda

We are dust and to dust return.
In the end we’re
neither air, nor fire, nor water,
neither more nor less, just dirt,
and maybe
some yellow flowers.

Yellow daisy

Unusual yellow peony

More Irises

May 26, 2010

The irises are especially beautiful these days.

Pastel yellow and purple iris

Iris backlit by sunlight

Yellow and purple iris

Delicate, translucent petal


What is Pink?

May 14, 2010

What Is Pink?
by Christina Rossetti

What is pink? A rose is pink
By the fountain’s brink.
What is red? A poppy’s red
In its barley bed.
What is blue? The sky is blue
Where the clouds float thro’.
What is white? A swan is white
Sailing in the light.
What is yellow? Pears are yellow,
Rich and ripe and mellow.
What is green? The grass is green,
With small flowers between.
What is violet? Clouds are violet
In the summer twilight.
What is orange? Why, an orange,
Just an orange!

I pulled a few photographs from my archives to illustrate this poem:

What is pink? A rose is pink . . .

What is red? A poppy's red . . .

What is blue? The sky is blue . . .

What is white? A swan is white . . .

What is yellow? A pear is yellow . . .

What is green? The grass is green . . .

What is violet? Clouds are violet . . .

What is orange? Why, an orange . . .

Flower Photographer

May 6, 2010

“Anything that excites me for any reason, I will photograph; not searching for unusual subject matter, but making the commonplace unusual.”
     — Edward Weston

Pale yellow iris

I never set out to be a flower photographer, but when I review my body of work from the past year, I realize that nearly one-third of my photographs are of flowers.  This was an unconscious choice on my part.  I set out to record my life through the four seasons of a year, and given the lushness of the Seattle landscape, my eye was naturally drawn to the ever-changing newest blooms.

I think my photographer’s eye has been influenced by Georgia O’Keeffe, one of my favorite painters whose work includes many, many close-up paintings of flowers.  I’ve savored many books about her art over the years, have visited her home in Abiquiu (which is now a museum), and have been to a couple of exhibits of her work.  It’s very possible that what I love about her flower paintings is what I try to capture in my photos.  I am drawn to the curving lines, patterns, and colors within a flower.  The abstractions please me.

Flowers are also ideal models.  It’s easy to secure their cooperation.  They pose so gracefully.  And they don’t require model releases.

I haven’t yet tired of taking flower photos.  I’m curious to see how this year’s photos will differ from last year’s.  I expect you’ll be seeing more of them in this blog.

One flower photographer whom I discovered last year, Jonathan Singer, now has a beautiful book out of his flower photographs.  It’s called Botanica Magnifica.  It was interesting to me to see that he did not always photograph the “perfect” bloom; you can see blemishes and tiny brown spots on some of the flowers.  Here is an example of his work from the book:

Jonathan Singer's Iris "Jean Marie" from Botanica Magnifica

Old-fashioned Iris

May 5, 2010

Purple and Yellow Iris

Bearded iris

Unfolding iris

I love these old-fashioned irises.

Botanical print of purple iris from http://botanicus.org

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

Pink tulip

Yellow tulip

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of the crocus.
The smell of the earth is good.
It is apparent that there is no death.
But what does that signify?
Not only under ground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots.
Life in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

Fields of Daffodils

March 7, 2010

Fields of daffodils in bloom in the Skagit Valley

Daffodil fields viewed from the hillside

Rows of daffodils stretch to a vanishing point

Skagit Valley daffodil field

Daffodil field with Cascade Mountains on the horizon

“Daffodils that come before the swallow dares,
and take the winds of March with beauty.”
     — William Shakespeare, The Winter’s Tale

The daffodils are in bloom in the Skagit Valley.  Farming here is quite different from what I am used to in the Midwest.  Imagine colorful ribbons of blooming flowers instead of fields of corn and soy beans!  And the Skagit Valley is framed by the Cascade Mountains in the east and the Olympic Mountains in the west.  It’s a beautiful place.

The daffodils were at their peak on this weekend’s visit.  Here are some photos of daffodils taken at the Roozengaarde Display Gardens:

White daffodil with frilly pale yellow center

Yellow daffodils in the sunshine

Mixed yellow and orange daffodil

Pussy Willow Wreath

February 25, 2010

I’d never taken the time before to really look closely at the budding of  a willow tree.  I’ve just noticed that those little gray muffs of pussy willow eventually sprout  into an explosion of yellow.

Pussy willows in an advanced state of bloom

Bursting into full bloom

I picked a few sprays of willow to make a spring wreath.  It’s a very simple arrangement, but I like it.

Ready to assemble my willow wreath

Finished wreath

Gracing the front entry way

This looks like the end of the season for pussy willows, so I’ll end this post with a nursery rhyme:

Pussy willow wakened from her cozy winter nap,
For the frolicking spring breeze, on her door would tap.
“It is chilly weather, though the sun feels good;
I will wrap up warmly and wear my furry hood.”
Mistress Pussy Willow opened wide her door;
Never had the sunshine seemed so bright before.
Never had the brooklet seemed so full of cheer;
“Good morning, Pussy Willow, welcome to you, dear.”
Never guest was quainter, than when Pussy came to town,
In her hood of silver gray, and tiny coat of brown.
Happy little children cried with laugh and shout,
“Spring is coming, coming,
Mistress Pussy Willow’s out.”
     — Author unknown