Sunday, May 28, 2023

Love In a Mist

 Could there be a more perfectly and romantically named flower that Love In a Mist? The blossoms seem to float in a cloud of delicate leaflets. A member of the buttercup family, the true petals are tiny and barely noticeable. The pastel "petals" are actually bracts, the same botanical trick that poinsettias use. The botanic name, Nigella Damascena, reveals its origins and also that it is the source of nigella seeds, a component of many Middle Eastern and Indian dishes. Those soured on romance (and perhaps cooking as well) have their own nickname for this plant: Devil In the Bush.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Accidental Art

 The plastic covering the work table showed clear evidence of a vigorous painting session. Edge-to-edge, use the big brush with gusto painting, probably the base layer for whatever was to come after those colors were dry on the papers. But look at those colors! Feel the rhythm of those black lines, a tiny, unintentional echo of Duchamp's "Nude Descending a Staircase." It's the movement, along with the colors, that had me stopping to appreciate a piece of plastic.

Sunday, May 14, 2023

After the Petals Fall

 A rose in full bloom is an ephemeral thing. We enjoy the colors and scents, as do the bumblebees. Then the petals drop. This is the time to  enjoy the next stage of the Queen of Plants. The shrub is studded with small, sturdy stars, each one perfect in its geometry without the help of a compass or protractor.  Those stars are the sepals that protected the bud. Look closely at the tiny hairs and delicate shading the circlet of black-dashed anthers and the central stigma that echoes the color of the fallen petals. Pause for just a minute and discover a miniature world of textures and colors.

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Snowbells Overhead

 First the Japanese snowbell tree leafed out, a study in green. Then each branch developed rows of pendulous buds, like tiny Christmas ornaments. I visited my neighbor’s back garden a couple times each week and we speculated on when they would turn into bells. Now, when we stand under the tree and look straight up, we see stars everywhere in a green sky. From a distance, it really does look like the tree is full of little bells. They flutter and sway in the wind, yellow stamens soundless inside the bells. For me, it’s a magical first-time discovery, For my neighbor, it’s a welcome ritual of spring.

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Spring Snowballs

 The days when a plant is just past its peak can be the most interesting. We've had a dramatic, but very localized snowfall this week when a Chinese Snowball Tree began dropping its petals. The floral precipitation covered the grass, resurrecting a childhood memory of waking up on an early-winter morning to discover that the first snowfall has left a half-hearted coat of white that not quite covered the grass. It raised our hopes of having sledding adventures. This snowfall predicts the green days of summer, perfect days to spend sitting outside with friends.

Sunday, April 23, 2023

White Clematis

 We are now fully into spring. Young vines are twirling and curling themselves around any helpful post, tree or shrub. Clematis is a perennial that comes in many colors and shapes. I've been watching the progress of this white one. The small, yellowest flower is a new bloom, still unfurling its petals with the awkwardness of a half-opened umbrella. The bloom above it still shows the green streaks of youth. When the youngsters reach peak bloom, their petals will grow rounder and whiter, all the better to show off an explosion of stamens. 

Sunday, April 16, 2023

A Building With An Identity Crisis

 Look closely and you can see at least four of the sets of lettering that has graced this facade. Being an old building, more have been entirely lost, leaving no more hints as to what this corner property was. There is something confusing but pleasing about the way the layers of letters combine. This is a look I strive to achieve when I use my gel plate to print layer upon layer on paper or fabric. Rarely do the colors and patterns meld as successfully as what time and weather have done on this busy corner.