Into White

“Tables of paperwood, windows of light
And everything emptying into white.” Cat Stevens

This limelight, close up with a macro lens, is fit for a bride, don't you think?

Backyard lily, Dark leyland cypress in the back gave this shot its black backdrop. No editing. I always loved this shot. Taken with Nikon 55-200mm lens

We put a whole row of white snow balls along the f

white clematis

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Yellow blur

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Yellow.”

Yellow

Yellow is a powerful accent color in my garden. It, and its close partner orange, are a perfect complement to my dominant blue-purple flower colors.

I think of yellow as a strong, intense pigment, but without washing it out or desaturating its intensity, in this photo the yellow is soft and ethereal.

I captured this photo of a False Sunflower last summer, 2014. It is one of my favorite flower “portraits” in my collection of botanicals. It is easy to take a flower photo straight on, dead center.

The petals of this off-centered blossom, blends into the background of its brethren in the garden. Hints of green lawn,blue sky and darker stems frame the image at the diagonal.

Not every image needs to be in focus. The dissolve of yellow in the background takes the viewer’s imagination off in another direction. A summer day in which to dream.

Find a garden — enjoy the linger!

Linger

Gardens are made for lingering. Color, aroma, and the cycle of life evolve right before my eyes — sometimes slowly and incrementally, other times annoyingly fast, like a pesky, hungry, hunter of a mosquito buzzing around my face with its proboscus set for my juicy upper arm.

Then I don’t linger.

SWAT!

Most of the time, the paths that I carved out and created in my not-quite-an-acre-world, command me to slow down. My garden asks me to pause, consider, drift, and linger.

And I do. With my body, with a camera, with my love.

A garden is the best lingering venue. Sitting. Kneeling, Digging, Weeding, Watering, Cleaning up.Thinking.

Lingering is also quite lovely with a glass of Pinot Grigio! Each sip is its own joyful linger of grape, citrus and sugar.

Benches are perfect lingering devices!

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I plan when I linger.

I am continually surprised if I let myself linger long enough. Imagine what I almost missed.

A burst of color today that wasn’t there yesterday. Taking notice of a senior citizen shedding its petals, one slow drop at a time, on its way of decay to become soil.  Happy to have met you!

You can’t notice these things if you don’t linger.

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Or escape that, I too, am a part of it all. This mysterious revolutionary movement of nature.

Lingering in the garden grounds me. I am shedding petals also — bone mass, collagen, elasticity, once thick brunette hair at a time is turning a fine, thin grey. I am shedding!

And it is all okay. I certainly won’t malinger over it!

On my way to becoming something else. I am contributing to it now.

It is part of the natural movement forward — a contribution I am able to make — and keep making still!

Peace through reflective lingering. The gift of, and in, gardening.

Sharpen the senses. Rest the mind. Linger. Drift past the flowers that grow so incredibly high!

Mom and her hydrangeas

In Delaware, hydrangeas bloom in June, but I always think of hydrangeas in May because of Mother’s Day.

My mother did not have a green thumb. I never saw mom kneeling and weeding in a garden. I only recall a few occasions with fresh-cut flowers in a vase on a table or counter. Mom went for plastic, and later in the 1970s and 1980s, the silk arrangements that were oh so fashionable and given to her as gifts throughout the years, accumulated in our home as decor accents. Slightly faded fabric petals of pink, yellow and blue held their faux bloom (and quite a bit of dust if truth be told) until her death in 2001.

  

Mom had one saving grace with gardening. She knew how to hold and point a hose. As luck would have it, a summer cottage my parents bought in the 1960s in Brigantine, New Jersey came framed in hydrangea macrophyllas. Big, blue cooling balls would erupt along the sides of our modest, white, one- story beach house and my mother succeeded in never killing them. In her mind, that made her a gardener. In the Brigantine summers, we had hamburgers, hot dogs and fresh hydrangeas on the table.

Vivid memories of her in a button down sleeveless shirt, madras plaid pedal pushers and rubber flip flops, watering hydrangeas, are etched in my mind as a standard, summer experience. Holding a green hose mom slowly made her way around the perimeter of the square cottage unloading healthy gulps of water upon the leaves. I watched her push pennies into the soil with her fingers.

“They make the flowers turn blue,” she said of the practice I have since learned is an old wives’ tale.

Her one horticulture knack was being able to propagate the leaves in water. In the summer we’d have a few plastic cups filled halfway with water and some hydrangea leaves sprouting tiny and tender white roots. Mom would give these starters away. I took her simple horticulture practice, trying to run with it, but I did not inherit this particular talent. Though I try, I can only get so far with this technique.


When mom died in March, 2001, we adorned the church altar with her favorite flower. The hot house hydrangeas, ready for the Easter market, were big and showy and powerfully pink. They surrounded her casket as she recieved the priest’s blessings. I took one of these funeral bouquets home with me and I planted it in a new house we were building and where I thought it would thrive. I hoped some of the Holy Water, which had landed on the leaves, might give the shrub a splash of good luck.

We had planned on mom living with us and had had a room ready for her. She never got to move in let alone see the house. Having that hydrangea grow symbolized she would be near.

The pink blooms faded away later that spring and did not return. The next year the plant grew to shrub size, but would not bloom.

That summer at work, I asked the horticultre Extension agent what was wrong.

“It might not ever bloom,” he said, “since it was raised in a hot house for the Easter market. You’ll just have to wait and see.”

Another summer went by and it grew big and luscious and green. But no blooms!

I didn’t push any pennies in the soil to help it along. By then I knew it was all about aluminum and pH and all that kind of stuff.  I planted other hydrangeas, one, Nikko Blue, a very old fashioned, powder blue, thrived on the other side of the house. It grew like bonkers. I kept adding different varieties – some oakleafs and lacecaps and limelights all did well. One way or another I was determined that some type of hydrangeas would grow on my property! These other hydrangeas showed off, pushing forth in panicles, round puff balls and dainty lacecaps. All except mom’s funeral hydrangea.

Geesh. Had I planted “mom’s” hydrangeas in the wrong spot?

My answer arrived in the third year, when mom’s gardening spirit and inspiration shouted in profuse young limes and teenage blues! Here’s the photo of mom’s original pink funeral flowers on its first rebloom, three years later.


Mom’s macrophylla is now the showiest hydrangeas on our property. This photo, the blooms are young. As they age they turn the most beautiful deep, purply blue.

Botanically speaking, Mother’s Day always arrives a month late in my house. Mom inspired my love of hydrangeas and all the hydrangeas varieties I’ve planted since.  Through them, memories of her follow me both inside, in vases and jars, and outside as far as my hose will stretch. Their blooms remind me of those Sixties’ summers in Brigantine where I spent June, July and August around bumblebees, spigots and cool water from a green hose that splashed on crunchy green leaves and a little girl’s toes.  Happy Mother’s Day Urusla Walsh Dorsey!

Mom and I in Wilmington, Delaware. I don’t have any photos of her in New Jersey, but this was definitely her gardening (or hose watering ) outfit!
I like to bring my hydrangeas inside to enjoy!
Photo credit: Michele Walfred

Extension welcomes little hands and big eyes to discover the wonders of gardens & nature

I love my job!

It allows me to intermingle with experts and follow along as the lessons of nature, flora and fauna in Delaware exist, thrive (and sometimes threatened) are shared with the public. I can’t say enough about the men and women who work and volunteer with Cooperative Extension outreach and teach curious minds, young and old alike! I always learn something new following them around!

Each May, University of Delaware Cooperative Extension agents and their wonderful volunteer Master Gardener experts, invite local second graders to visit their Demonstration Garden in Georgetown, Delaware. After exploring and discovering herbs, seeds, plants, flowers, trees and compost in the morning, the students enjoy a lunch break in our picnic grove area, and then trek off under the canopy of many leaves to explore the University of Delaware’s woodland classroom.

We never know what experience might spark a young mind and continue with a fascination of our natural world into formal education and a career. A day like this could be the start of something spectacular!

I listen to the “oohs” and “ahs” and when I am not doing that myself, I try and snap a few pictures of wide-eyed children in the throes of imagination and discovery! There were many more pictures that I did not have photo releases for. But here are a few — okay few hundred — photos of three marvelous days in May, 2015. Thanks to my assistant Jackie Arpie for joining me in taking pictures!

The embedded Flickr slide show won’t play on some iOS devices. Here’s the link to the photos!