Friday, December 01, 2006

Sharing a Few Last Favorite Fall Experiences

A few last fall impressions:

This is the bloom of an 'Alba Plena' camellia. It's one of the oldest of all the named camellia varieties, and I love its stately grace. (For a sense of scale, this blossom is about 4" in diameter.)

In fact, I've become rather a camellia fan after living here for 6 years. Their wildlife value is, of course, negligible, for which reason I doubt that I'll ever go completely nuts about them, but their beauty is undeniable. Their foliage is deep and lustrous, and their blooms are captivating.

One of the many assets of camellias is that they bloom in the late fall, winter and early spring. Alba Plena is one of the first camellias to bloom, so it's another sign that fall is winding down and winter is fast approaching.

I love finding co-inhabitants of my garden...and it's even better when I can photograph them and share those photographs. This captivating guy was hiding out underneath an aster in the wood nymph garden at the beginning of November. I think he was hoping that I didn't see him, as he stayed perfectly still for a long time, inadvertently posing beautifully for me!

I'm assuming that he was there because the asters were absolutely shimmering with insect life, especially bumble bees and skippers, feeding on the nectar. It must have been like an all-you-can-eat buffet!

And, finally, here is our "Outback" seating area, surrounded by signs of fall. Maybe it's just that I've spent so many mornings and evenings sitting out there, sipping coffee or some other beverage of choice, journalling or just enjoying the life in the garden, but this vista makes me smile just looking at it.

A sanctuary. And how lucky we are to have it.

A Limestone 'Begging Bowl'

This limestone slab has been fascinating me for the last month or so. We've had it for over a year now, but it had such a blandly smooth surface that I've had a hard time figuring out what to do with it in the garden. It seemed so characterless and unnatural.

Now, however, the falling leaves have literally left their mark on it and it has morphed, almost overnight, from a blank spot to a daily changing canvas of impressions.

My biggest frustration at this point is how to capture it most effectively in a photograph. Lighting and shadows, changing displays of leaves coating its surface, and naturally evolving tannin prints all create its appeal to me. To a great extent, though, it's the fleeting nature of those patterns that fascinates me and, in trying to photograph them, I destroy that very nature that speaks to me.

Whether I ever get the photograph that I want, I now feel that having this blank canvas in the garden is a big plus. In its own way, it's the classic monk's begging bowl - highlighting the day's or the season's offerings.

Looking back a little....

I've been sorting through photos from the garden, putting together an album of how the yard has looked throughout the year. Seeing the months condensed like that, it is amazing how much the garden changes annually...even though it is purely normal and therefore technically not amazing at all.

Just for kicks and grins, here are three vistas of the east side of our garden, over the course of the last year....

First we have spring - March 12, to be exact. Deciduous plants are just starting to leaf out. The azaleas have been blooming for a week or two and will be in full glory in another week or so. A week before this photo, the yard looked noticeably barer, but I wanted to show the azaleas really starting to ramp up.

Next is the start of full summer, June 6. The spring flowers are gone and the lushness of summer is setting in. Heat and humidity are almost radiating from this vista.

Last in my quick series is fall, November 28. The green is fading out, taken over by bright fall colors. Leaves are falling, and those that remain bear witness to a growing season's worth of life experience: spots from minor diseases, missing sections where insects dined, dessicated edges reminding of dry spells.

Each season has its beauty...and each season has its flaws. Life's rather funny that way, isn't it?