Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Flower Favorites and their stories

Unlike our host this week, Ann-Christine of Leya (sounds like a princess’ name, and indeed she is Lens-Artist royalty!), I do not grow flowers or keep a garden. However, I have loved and cherished them and have stories of how they have made happiness bloom in my life.

Lilacs

My first favorite flower is the Lilac. There was a row of lilac bushes that belonged to our next-door neighbor that sat on the dividing line of our properties. When they bloomed for two short weeks in early summer in Illinois, their fragrance intoxicated me. I wanted to cut the bunches and bring them to my room so that I could smell them as I went to sleep. I was soon instructed by my mother that first, they weren’t mine, and second, they would quickly drop their blossoms and become a mess to clean up inside. I vowed that when I grew up, I would have my own lilac bushes and surround myself with their lovely perfume. I missed lilacs while living in California, but my husband planted dwarf lilacs for Mother’s Day at our house when we moved back to Illinois. Then he took me to the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island in Michigan, where they have a Lilac Festival each year, and he bought me a small bottle of lilac essence, which I dabbed on my skin with sheer delight until it was all gone.

Fringed Gentian
Fringed Gentian, open

Fringed Gentian was a legend on the restored prairies of land protected by the Cedar Lakes Conservation Foundation of Wisconsin, where I worked for five years. I had never heard of this early Fall flower before or seen it until I was in my 50s. One September day, my friend Jerry (on the Board of the Foundation and their main trail steward) called me up and told me to grab my camera – the Gentians were up! I was absolutely enthralled by their tightly twisted blooms that opened to four fringed petals of blue perfection.

Rose

The Rose speaks of love silently
In a language known only to the heart

My late husband, Jim, loved roses. He gave me lots of them. He gave me the crystal plaque with the above inscription when I was in High School. It sits in the curio cabinet I inherited from his mother. Next to it is an acrylic-coated and gold-tipped rose, a souvenir from the weekend we spent together at a couples’ resort, a mini-vacation from our four kids. I love roses with the deep scent of raspberries; the soft, furry sweetness of their aroma is a heaven of blissful indulgence. They speak of romance and exclusive preference, to me. They will always remind me of Jim. I have moved into houses where rose bushes were left behind in the garden. The blooms were always a gift, not something I felt I had earned. I suppose that’s totally appropriate for a love flower, and why it is so very special.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Garden

Tom Paxton wrote the song “Whose Garden Was This?” for the first Earth Day in 1970. John Denver released an album that same year, named for the song, which he covered.

Whose garden was this? It must have been lovely
Did it have flowers? I’ve seen pictures of flowers
And I’d love to have smelled one

Tell me again, I need to know
The forests had trees, the meadows were green
The oceans were blue, and birds really flew
Can you swear that was true?

Whose river was this? You say it ran freely
Blue was its color, I’ve seen blue in some pictures
And I’d love to have been there

Tell me again, I need to know
The forests had trees, the meadows were green
The oceans were blue, and birds really flew
Can you swear that was true?

Those who imagine the Earth as a garden, as opposed to a wilderness, consider humans to be the primary architects of plant communities and responsible for their creation and maintenance. In this Anthropocene Era, human impact dominates the landscape, and the soil serves our needs – for food, for resources, for beauty, for creativity. It’s important to remember, though, that one of our needs is to have a healthy planet, one that will be resilient to our mistakes, our greed, our hubris. There is always a need for observation and humility, an imperative that we learn from autonomous ecosystems.

Whose garden was this? It must have been lovely
Did it have flowers? I’ve seen pictures of flowers
And I’d love to have smelled one..

Thank you to AMY for this week’s challenge theme, and Happy Mother’s Day tomorrow to all you blogging Moms (like me)!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: One Single Flower

“When the night has been too lonely and the road has been too long,
And you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong,
Just remember in the winter, far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed, that with the sun’s love in the spring becomes the rose.”
Amanda McBroom

Last week, we Lens-Artists were on the long and winding road. This week, hosted by Cee, we are in search of One Single Flower

In the first verse of the song The Rose (quoted above) there is the line, “I say love, it is a flower…”

 

“May our heart’s garden of awakening bloom with hundreds of flowers.”― Thich Nhat Hanh

What other flowers grow in your garden? 

The Lotus flower is regarded in many different cultures, especially in eastern religions, as a symbol of purity, enlightenment, self-regeneration and rebirth. Its characteristics are a perfect analogy for the human condition: even when its roots are in the dirtiest waters, the Lotus produces the most beautiful flower.

“Practice until you see yourself in the cruelest person on Earth, in the child starving, in the political prisoner. Continue until you recognize yourself in everyone in the supermarket, on the street corner, in a concentration camp, on a leaf, in a dewdrop. Meditate until you see yourself in a speck of dust in a distant galaxy. See and listen with the whole of your being. If you are fully present, the rain of Dharma will water the deepest seeds in your consciousness, and tomorrow, while you are washing the dishes or looking at the blue sky, that seed will spring forth, and love and understanding will appear as a beautiful flower.”
Thich Nhat Hanh

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Delicate Colors

Ann-Christine, our challenge host this week, is inspired by “the soft glory of spring nature in my part of the world”. She lives in Sweden, a country I’ve never visited but with which I feel a kind of kindred knowledge as a resident of a northern state – Wisconsin. After a long winter, there is nothing more repeatedly astonishing as the bursting forth of delicate spring color. The leaves here are growing larger each day but have that yellow brilliance that will soon mellow into a sturdier green. Now, they accent a blue sky with a light-filled tenderness that is truly inspiring.

Here in my front yard, the apple trees and crabapple trees have finally burst into blossom. Their colors are so delicate that the midday sun gives them a rather harsh brilliance.

They are much more ethereal in the mist of a spring rain.

In my photographs, I often get a thrill from a good pop of color. I get a much deeper sense of awe from the soft color that I sometimes catch without really knowing how.

I guess the trick to this kind of soft color outside is indirect sunlight and moist air. One of the shots in the gallery above was actually taken indoors. The fern was in a conservatory greenhouse exhibit.

It’s finally Spring, though, and what I really want to do is just get outdoors into the sun and put my feet up!

Wishing you all health, safety, and ease this weekend. 🙂