This is such a small thing, I hesitated to post it. Chives (or some other relative of the onion family) have been planted by the Brighton Garden Club in the raised beds south of the millpond. They are about a foot tall. At light, bright lights in the bed point upward to illuminate the flags. The chives are illuminated, too. It’s great to shoot photos at night without the head-on flash from my camera. Up-lit plants also take on a unique quality. I like the architectural lines of the vertical stems with the fireworks at the top of all members of the Alium family (actually lilies). The purple flowers on these adds a spark of color.
I found this native flowering plants for the first time in 2010, and each year since, it pops up in different places. This year it was center stage right beside the millpond trail. It’s Foxglove Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis), a relative of cultivated foxglove you might have in your own garden.
The buttery yellow buds become magenta bells when they open. The color seems brighter this year, but maybe I’ve learned a thing or two about photography since I first photographed them three years ago.
Nanina, are you out there? I could use your help in identifying some of the millpond’s fruit bearing shrubs. I’ll be posting them in the days ahead. Even after years of photographing them, I still have no idea what they are. I attempt to identify them through online sources, but the search results use Latin names and lack pictures.
The flowers on this woody shrub/tree are tiny and white (see right photo; click to enlarge) and the berries are perfectly round. They start out pale and slowly build through all values of red until reaching an almost-black state.
The leaves are glossy, leathery and a rich medium green. Many of these shrubs stand 6-10′ tall like the one to the right. The berries seem bigger and more numerous this year as a result of the long spring and ideal summer weather. While the berries LOOK full and delicious, I sure wouldn’t eat any of them before finding out more about the plant. Since the birds haven’t touched them, I think there’s a good chance they aren’t fit to eat or taste terrible.
Gardeners are an adventurous bunch. They’ll see a bulb in a store or catalog and buy it just to see what will happen when (and if) it pops out of the ground. I suspect this plant might be one of those purchases.
I’ve never seen anything like this plant. It’s about 18″ tall and the blooms are packed tight on its stalk (right). Leaves surround the base (not shown) as well as provide a disheveled umbrella above the blooms. See the larger version to admire the structure of each bloom, not to mention the color or ants drinking the nectar. It was a surprise found in the Brighton Area Chamber of Commerce garden maintained by those hardy souls in the Brighton Garden Club.
Tucked under another perennial, this plant has the genetic code it needs to survive. Once it sprouts, it heads straight to the sky leaving the other plant behind. Although I don’t know its name, it’s surely in the chive family. The flower clusters at the tips are just getting ready to open and stretch out.
The pastel yellow-green buds on this 18″ mound are just beginning to change color and roar into bloom. It’s a sedum but I don’t know the variety. This close up looks like a close up of an oriental rug with it’s tight placement and muted tones. Click the image or this link to see a larger image which includes the entire 8″ flower cluster.
When I posted an earlier symmetrical pattern, Jenny was delighted. That night, I went out looking for other images involving leaves and twigs that I could use in symmetrical patterns. Bittersweet vines are the subject here. The symmetry is very simple to create in Photoshop with duplicate layers. I have a Photoshop plug-in called Terrazzo which creates more complex forms of symmetry. I’ll explore those next winter when the pickings aren’t as good outdoors. Right now, I’d rather shoot than tinker.
Why do kaleidoscopic patterns delight the eye? I think it’s two things: First of all, it places things in a pleasing visual order and yet our vision and brain is confused. We are forced to make sense out of what we’re seeing. Secondly, even the most mundane things; a shred of paper, a seed or a shard of glass can turn into something surprisingly beautiful, something beyond what we expect.
It’s probably best that this lush shrub doesn’t have any flowers on it. The sign right above it illuminates the beautiful lime-green foliage and announces the converted home on Main Street just beyond downtown Brighton as the Paris Asthma and Allergy Center. Surely the doctors would prefer no pollen producing flowers should be near their entrance.
The flowers seem shy as they hide amid the much larger dark green leaves. The tiny bell-shaped flowers hang downward so only the minute insects can see inside them, but it must be quite a sight if those creatures take the time to look above their heads. In the still night air, their thick fragrance hovered around this well established bed of Lily of the Valley beside the front steps of St. George Lutheran Church, Brighton, MI, as I photographed them. See larger versions by clicking on the images.
The title sounds ominous, but reality isn’t. This shrub is about eight feet in diameter and called a Bridal Wreath Spirea (aka Meadowsweet). It grows beside the cemetery (circa 1840s) fence next to the gazebo and, for a couple of weeks each spring, is a showstopper. I’ll try to return when it’s in full flower and totally covered in blooms. The rest of the year, no one notices it because the dark blue-green leaves blend with the shadows of the trees that tower above it. I’m sure this shrub has been here a very long time.
The house my parents bought in 1947 had a well-established line of these shrubs across the front. Their blooms weren’t as thick as this one. We never pruned them. I also didn’t know until I went looking for links for this post that this plant contains compounds which combat bacterial infections as well as methyl salicylate (think: aspirin) which Native Americans used in herbal tea. I never liked the plants in our yard. They were dingy for 50 weeks of the year, and a breeding ground for mosquitoes during the summer months.
Doesn’t this look like a tropical plant from some distant island? It isn’t. It’s a common 2″ zinnia blossom seen from the side photographed in a Livingston County garden. Sometimes we miss incredibly interesting visual things because they are so common we think we know them. We merely glance in their direction instead of looking closely. See the larger version, if you need a winter dose of color.
In another attempt to assuage Winter, here’s a dose of color for you which veers from the usual images at Words4It. In 2006, a poinsettia I had in my office for several years developed particularly colorful leaves. I suspect it was because I didn’t give it proper nutrition. As leaves fell off, I scanned them for no good reason except to record their patterns. This image is a composite of those scans. The larger version (2400 x 1292, 393k) is quite spectacular in detail. You are welcome to crop it down to fit your desktop.
To satisfy my need for color and things that grow during this dormant time of year, here’s a reminder that in a few months we’ll be at summer’s peak again. These daylilies were photographed at the close of the day in Ruth Esper’s garden which has been mentioned before on Words4It.com. The image is part of my Nightgardens series.
I didn’t punch up the colors in Photoshop. This is how my camera recorded them. This 1999 vintage 1-megapixel Nikon always skews to the blue range so I can’t say it’s a realistic representation of the flowers. They’re still beautiful surrounded by the rich greens at the close of twilight.
In August, the planter in front of ArtVentures was overflowing with white petunias and gold strawflowers. After dark, they were washed in light coming from two directions. The street light illuminated the bouquet in unearthly golden-pink and drew crisp shadows on the wall while bright white gallery lighting cascaded through the window reviving the original colors of the flowers and made them glow.
There was a miniature castle with moat built near the log cabin at Palmer Park, Detroit, MI. We lived just blocks away. When I was very young, my dad took my brothers and I there with jars. We collected stagnant water from the moat and brought it home to watch the microscopic creatures scurrying about. Some looked like they were right out of science fiction. One I remember well had a propeller-like tail. Thanks to my dad, I learned to appreciate pond scum. :-)
The exuberant pond scum shown is from the Brighton millpond. It contains parts of leaves, seeds, pollen, duckweed and a myriad of other microscopic organisms that sustain the nearby critters and insects. It probably supports mosquito larva, too, but we won’t bring that up.
Larry Poons was probably paid handsomely (and rightly so) for “Via Regia” (1964), but the toddler who created this similar work received nothing. Not even a nibble from its intended target market, a large snapping turtle …
… but it attracted the attention of a curious blue damselfly (center, right):
I’m a night owl. I come from a long line of night owls so it’s genetic in some way. Consequently, most of my photographs are taken at night. In July of 2009, I walked to the St. George Lutheran Church in Brighton, MI. They have spotlights mounted in the ground that shine up to their rather clunky steeple that has all of the architectual charm of a pre-fab aluminum-sided garage. Why they want to draw attention to it is beyond me, but I glad they do.
Just to the right of the front stairs is a nicely-tended garden and patio area. Spires more beautiful than the steeple reach toward heaven there. Daylilies and hostas dominate. The nearby spotlight bathes these spires while the foliage is lost in shadows. Lovely. They have the same quality as mountain peaks showing above clouds from the Zhejiang School’s ink paintings from 14th century Asia.
I took two photos that night and they are crappy ones at that, but they inspired an idea I’m pursuing titled “NightGardens” which will evolve over time. Expect to see more from that series here at Words4It.