Posted on May 7, 2018
There is a magic in the garden. One can see the cycle of life, plants emerging, others flowering, some healing wounds, and still others dropping leaves and flowers in preparation for their next stage. By nature some are expanding, competing for air and water and space, while others live in cooperation providing benefits to their neighbors and partners. And of course, there is the rich diversity of nature.
Each time I visit it seems different. Not just different plants in bloom, but the magic and wonder of it has somehow shifted. Or maybe it is me that has changed, and I just notice different things. Here are a few I noticed during one of my recent visits.
Posted on June 21, 2011
These are two of over 3,000 species of bromeliads, a family that includes plants as diverse as spanish moss, the air plant well known by indoor gardeners, and the pineapple. Many, such as the spanish moss, are epiphytes that can subsist on nutrients in the air, rain and debris that fall around them, and do not need to be rooted to the ground. Others, like the pineapple are more terrestrial and do better rooted to the earth.
The variety of shapes and colors in these tropical plants is a dazzling reminder of the beauty around us — beauty that can bring balance into our lives if only we choose to look.
Posted on March 6, 2011
Despite the extended drought in Florida, the diversity and beauty of the plant life is stunning. The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, where these original images were taken, is a wonderful place to see some of these plants.
A light rain had just ended, providing an extra sheen to the already shiny leaves. The top image is of a plant I cannot name. But as I worked with it, the texture and colors of its large leathery leaf began to look like the arms and legs of dancers hidden in a wet translucent mass. The second image is a much more straightforward presentation of one of the many varieties of large philodendron that thrive here, some of which have leaves that are dream-like in their own right.
Posted on September 28, 2010
In the filtered light after a brief summer shower some things like these aging banana leaves take on a silken smoothness. Their texture, colors and folds give the illusion of fabric hanging from the stalk. However, most plants in the dry tropical bush are prickly and sharp, not smooth and silky. A little way along this same path there was an old bathtub draped with barbed wire — a still life of manmade objects emulating the thorny bush.
The illusion is of softness, while man made thorns block access to a symbol of the comfort and security of home.
Posted on August 11, 2010
The casuarina tree is not a native to the island, and some consider it an invasive. They are tolerant of windswept places and this large example stands along a windswept beach. Its leaves/needles are long, so when the wind blows there is a gentle soothing sound and the small branches sway like little grass skirts. When the needles fall, they form a barrier to other plants, so there is no understory of brush or other plants where these trees stand.
This barren blanket of casuarina leaves overlaid with several large decaying branches became the setting for the picture below. It was not a conscious intention that caused the palettes of the two images to be so similar. Instead, it was the feeling of each and what seemed to work best to communicate what appealed to me about each scene. It’s odd how that works…
Posted on August 31, 2009
This bromeliad was growing in a friend’s garden. It’s not a perfect specimen, but the colors, the bit of water still held in the center, and the curve of the leaves all drew my attention as an illustration of the imperfect beauty available at our feet every day, if we only take time to look.
Posted on June 1, 2009
The cannonball tree is named for its heavy round fruit that grows on gnarled stems attached to the tree’s trunk (see photo below). The flowers are beautifully complex and colorful, with hues of red, orange, yellow and white – almost a world unto themselves. You can see a second interpretation of this flower on my web site.
This tree is a specimen at the St. George Village Botanical Garden on St. Croix, home to many strange and wonderful tropical plants. And no, the fruits are not edible. In fact they stink when they fall and crack open.
Posted on May 28, 2009
Buttress roots form at the base of many old shade trees in the thin tropical soils. These roots curve around and reach out to support the massive trees above. This was an old silk cotton, or kapok, tree whose buttress roots seemed to be actively searching for what they needed from the earth.
Posted on May 17, 2009
I saw this beautiful yellow hibiscus while walking in the neighborhood. It seemed to be just crackling and sizzling with energy, a physical manifestation of the sunshine we get here each day.
Posted on March 25, 2009
When they take the form of a tree, sea grapes have a distinctive shape and silhouette, and an interesting texture with their large round flat red-veined leaves. This one had taken up a traditional position along the shore. The early morning light gave even the green leaves a reddish glow. I eliminated some of the distracting detail to focus on the colors, the light and the simple composition of the original scene.