Category: Gardens

The Color Purple

The Color Purple
The Color Purple

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.” Alice Walker, The Color Purple

Don’t Shoot Down on Flowers

Level the field
Level the field

The first really helpful book I read many years ago was The Digital Photography Book by Scott Kelby. It’s very basic but he covers a lot of simple things that people often overlook.

One is not to shoot down on flowers. He claims that this will produce a boring shot because people are used to seeing flowers this way, so get down and dirty with them: “well, at least your knees anyway,” says the merry prankster.

He may be right, he may be crazy, but he overlooks a very important part of the photographer/flower interaction. If you look down on flowers they sense the condescension. How is that a problem you might ask?

Once they get the feeling that you think you’re better than them they will mess up your photos every time. Even on the calmest day, a day that’s as calm as a convent they will move just enough to blur the shot, especially closeups.

If you use a tripod and the self timer they have you by the stamens, because then they know exactly when to shake it off. It may sound crazy but I’ve seen it over and over again.

The Buddha allegedly said that if we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change. You might want to mention that to them right from the beginning.

A Tale Told By an Idiot?

Bleeding hearts
Bleeding hearts

In Macbeth Shakespeare writes: “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

I have to admit that I’ve felt that way before, as most people probably have when they realize that they aren’t going to live forever. A tale told by an idiot seems a bit strong though, and if Shakespeare were around today he would probably get a prescription for Prozac, but I digress.

After a light rain I went to a garden full of flowers and trees in a nearby park, which in itself is something very special, and I noticed that the bleeding hearts were starting to bloom.

Walking down to a small pond with a waterfall, I looked at them as if they were something new to me, because they were. In a few weeks they will be completely gone, and they will come back next spring whether I’m there to see them or not.

Watching these absolutely amazing flowers I remembered the feeling I used to get after washing down a couple of Xanax with a glass of Vodka. It was a feeling of calmness, and I knew that even though the tale doesn’t last, I like to be here when I can.

I no longer need drugs and alcohol to get that feeling, a walk in the garden can do it in a heartbeat. If life signifies nothing, so be it, its only going to be a short walk anyway.

The Problem with Euphorbia

Euphorbia
Euphorbia

Euphorbia myrsinites, also known as myrtle euphorbia or donkeytail spurge, is one of the most useful and highly ornamental plants to grow in the garden.

Now for the bad news: the milky white sap has been known to cause extreme allergic reactions that in some cases can lead to anaphylactic shock, and visits to the emergency room are frequently reported.

Charles Bukowski wrote a book called The People Look Like Flowers At Last. This flower looks like the pretty college girl next door who works as an escort on weekends. Approach both with caution and use protection.

Lancaster County Flowers

Lancaster County Flowers
Lancaster County Flowers

These Irises are some of the first flowers to come up in a part of Lancaster County Central Park that I visit every spring. This section is on Eshelman Mill Road about a quarter mile down from the Shuts Environmental Library (look for the gates). The flower patch is at the end of the road opposite the maintenance building, with a large parking lot that’s always empty.

Blue Crocuses are already popping up and white ones will be there in a few days. Bluebells will also make an appearance a little later in the season. The best light is early to late afternoon depending on clouds, and they don’t open the gates until 8:00am.

If you have time, stop at the garden of five senses, which is only a few minutes away and well worth a look. Tulips, bleeding hearts and many other flowers are in the garden between late February and April. The garden is open to the public year round, and the paved walkway easily accommodates wheelchairs, strollers and very slow photographers.

Note: Hundreds of deer live in this 544 acre park and wander around like they own the place. Drive slowly early in the morning and late afternoon, especially near the Rock Ford Plantation where they get together to discuss which plants to eat next.