Flower portraiture – capturing the beauty of a single bloom
Yesterday Woodlake and Hockessin temperatures both registered 84 degrees. Don’t be confused. In Woodlake that temperature is perfect. Delaware sun and humidity mixed to make salt water spring like a national park geyser from my forehead and nose.
After meandering through Pierce’s Woods and visiting his 1730s home, stifling in the tropical section of the Longwood Gardens Conservatory in Kennett Square, PA, we came full circle in the huge conservatory and found this perfect chenille plant. Better known as Acalypha hispida, conservatory designers saved the best of the 1,100 varieties on the 2,000 acres for last.
OK, that may just be my opinion. By the time I found Princess Hispida, I had already taken 177 pictures, was dripping wet, ready to get out of the Conservatory, and stop somewhere for ice cream. I apologised to the princess for my abruptness, bowed low and snapped pictures for the Streaming Thoughts News.
Accustomed to thousands of daily admirers, she took my blubbering in stride. Her red dreadlocks stood out among the competitors and I circled around to capture the exquisite luxurious locks of her highness in numerous shots.
With so many competitors, you often forget their names, or where they sat, as I did with Princes Hispida. If you know the name of the plant, you can find where it is on the Longwood Garden’s website. I did not remember her name. Lucky for me, Google located a long red fuzzy plant in about .5 seconds. In Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, Princess H’s beauty is exotic. In Papua, New Guinea, she and her hardy zone 10 sisters are one in a million.
I wonder if I would look exotic if I moved to Papua, New Guinea. I’ll see if hubby wants to relocate.
I love to walk. Hal, age 91, and I walked for two hours through Winterthur and met a couple who walked there often.
“We walk here and at Longwood Gardens,” they told us.
“Where’s that?” I asked. My mental wheels turned.
“Kennett Square, PA about 15 minutes from here.”
“You’ve never been to Longwood Gardens when you visited before?” Hal sounded incredulous that he could have overlooked something as iconic as visiting Longwood Gardens.
“Never heard of it.”
“Everyone goes to Longwood Gardens. We need to go.”
After years of practicing touring every kind of museum under the sun, the best advice I can give you about touring like an expert is never to think you are an expert. Make comparisons, guesses, then check your facts. If you know you are going somewhere, you can check your facts first, but you’ll probably forget them because you don’t need to know them yet. I love to go in green and come out with more expertise than when I went in.
That being said, you are going to become more of an expert about Longwood Gardens that I was, and can build on the knowledge you gain here.
The Outdoor Gardens at Longwood Gardens.
We arrived at about 11:30, and unlike Winterthur, there were no shady areas in which to walk. The sun warmed us and the water features added humidity to the air.
Pierre du Pont enjoyed water. We came across a lake across from the Italian Water Gardens. Framing the picture on the right is the column of a gazebo. Unless you happen to be a frog, you would not want to jump in and swim in this lake. If you do, you will look like a frog when you come out.
I stood inside the lakeside gazebo to photograph Hal looking at the lake.
What impressed me most about this gazebo was the ceiling’s intricate pattern. Pierre du Pont designed his own gardens and incorporated much of what he learned on his travels to Italy.
With thousands of plants on thousands of acres, it is a photographer’s paradise. I couldn’t click fast enough.
Hal and I wandered into the garden and through the woods until 2:30. We caught the closing chords of the organ concert in the conservatory.
We did not let much grass grow under our feet, but there was some growing over our heads.
The display of flowers on the grounds outside reminded me of Buchart Gardens in Victoria, BC. There is a lot of stonework here in Delaware and Pennsylvania, but this garden is not built into the rock quarry.
Du Pont created the Italian Water Gardens with the most elaborate water show in the world when it was built in 1925-27. He could time the display, much like they do today at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.
Overlooking the Italian Water Gardens is a Canopy Cathedral. What attracted me were the windows. It was not as grand as the windows led me to believe, but it is worth the short climb to go inside to look out over the meadow.
Much of the wood for this structure came from reclaimed wood. The floors came from a toothpaste factory in Toronto, Canada.
Follow me as I go upstairs.
Finally, we look through the beautiful window panes onto the meadow and Italian Water Gardens.
I hope you enjoyed your tour today of the Longwood Gardens. I’ll take you to other parts of it in another post. Stay tuned.
Photographers seek to mirror what they see, so in reality, whatever we photograph mirrors life as we see it. Now to dig deeper into the meaning of mirror.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
When he was a lad of 53, my husband pursued a quest for perfection. After twelve weeks, he achieved it. The card he gave me for Valentine’s Day reflected his pride. The card showed a young lover gazing into his loved one’s eyes. He asked his true love what she thought he could see reflected in her eyes.
(I imagined some romantic images intended to spark a romantic night.)
Inside the card read, “MYSELF…And damn, I look good.”
When this picture fell out of the card, I had to agree.
Had I gazed into his oiled body, I might have seen myself reflected in it, but I doubt that I would have had the same reaction as he did when he looked into “my eyes!” I had not taken the 12-week challenge. 🙂
#Longwood Gardens #1
Reflections at Longwood Gardens
My favorite pictures mirror images that evoke emotion, the thrill, and satisfaction of capturing perfection at last for a millisecond.
This reflected at the Conservatory of Pierre Samuel du Pont, marked the mid-point of a perfect visit to Longwood Gardens. Pipe organ music just finished playing the background.
Passing through the glass doors Hal and I entered the water-lily space or garden of a million mirrors.
To be perfectly candid, I did not notice the mirror images until I looked at the Photo Challenge topic for this week when I got home. The sun got into the mirroring act providing a shadow image of one of the lilies.
While the flower on top is beautiful enough, if you look closely you can see the sky and a tree reflecting what a beautiful day it is in Kennett Square, PA at the Longwood Gardens. Only a couple of places revealed marred perfection. The Tropical Gardens magnified 84 degrees by 100% humidity to produce rivulets of reflecting power on my face, had you been there to gaze into it.
Hal asked me whether I had been to Longwood Gardens before.
When I told him, “No,” he reflected, “What awful tour guide have you had that has neglected this icon of Delaware and Pennsylvania.?”
“No one is perfect, Hal. Even the most dedicated tour guide,” I said mirroring his jocular self-accusation.
This visit was not too late to enjoy the beauty of these gardens mirrored in their watery beds.
It is difficult to discern where the mirroring starts and the underwater growth stops. These three Siamese models are stars of perfection.
Hal told one tourist that she could stand on a lily pad. I’m sure she objected, to his delight.
To prove his point, for Hal likes to be right, he brought along a picture of the young woman he had printed on his computer. True to his promise, she (or rather the picture which mirrored her) stood on the lily pad.
I don’t recommend standing on lily pads for the rest of us. We would surely break the serenity of the water necessary to produce this perfect lily pad reflection. To me, the lily pad looks like the perfect tray for party cupcakes for Alice and her Looking-Glass friends. What do you see reflected here?
Eventually, I will pack my bags and head home to Woodlake, CA. Reflections abound in this classic truck which came to our Woodlake Car Show, even though perfection may be amiss. The mirrors are present, as are the images. Do you see at least two reflections?
If so, please accept the star of Texaco as your reward.
Santa must have found of mirror image of that truck somewhere. This cargo vehicle boasts a mirror as well, but the mirror did not alert Santa to the visitor who knocked at his door. I wonder if Big Ben had been the mirror of perfection all year, or possibly he had been a little naughty and was pleading his case? We would have to ask the Three River’s artist, Nadi Spencer, who drew this picture.
If you headed up to Three Rivers this spring, you would find water in Kaweah Lake almost up to the road mirroring the hills. Last I heard the water level more accurately reflects our CA drought.
Nothing is as beautiful to a Californian than the reflection of a healthy water supply. We live in a beautiful country where every drop of stored water reflects life as well as the beauty you see in the water. Bravo Lake filled this winter.
Bonus reflection – my windshield. My mirror reflects more than just my camera and my beautifully painted red fingernails. It reflects the enormous number of people behind me who come to the Sequoia National Park to reflect on the beauty of our natural resources in America. On Memorial Day the line was five miles long. The line in June when I visited the Park with my brother was shorter.
Thank you to Y. Prior for mentioning me in her blog post on Mirrors.
For more reflections on the word mirror, click here.