Tuesday, June 29, 2010

One More Oriental Poppy...

Before the Shirley Poppies bloom - and the latest Flower Photography Obsession (hereafter known as "FPO") begins. I love the shadows cast by the flower's stamens - but I would have liked to see more contrast and detail in the yellow stigma.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Hermeticism and Yard Work

(Above: a small section of the diverse plant life in our front yard.)

One of the main Hermetic belief states "as above, so below". I'll let Wikipedia explain:

"The concept was first laid out in The Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus, in the words 'That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above, and that which is Above, corresponds to that which is Below, to accomplish the miracles of the One Thing'. In accordance with the various levels of reality: physical, mental, and spiritual, this relates that what happens on any level happens on every other. This is however more often used in the sense of the microcosm and the macrocosm. The microcosm is oneself, and the macrocosm is the universe. The macrocosm is as the microcosm, and vice versa; within each lies the other, and through understanding one (usually the microcosm) you can understand the other."

I've been pondering this concept lately as my partner and I struggle with the various landscaping and yard work projects on our one-acre property, which I call "Lakewood Manor". After the unexpected death of his mother in October 2008, my partner, an only child, inherited the house he grew up in, as his father had passed away from cancer over a decade ago.

Cleaning and organizing a 2000 square foot house was a task that dominated our weekends for nearly two months. The house yielded a glorious mess of garbage, curios, collectibles and antiques - and one 35mm, black and white 70's porno film! Thirty years of possessions, some clearly treasured, others merely stuck in the garage to await their future fate - passed through our hands. We calculated that we removed approximately 3.5 TONS of garbage from the house. This experience cured me of my hobby of browsing through thrift stores and consignment shops, looking for something I knew I did not need, but always walking out the door with a vintage ashtray or used book I knew I'd never read.

What does this have to do with yard work?

(Another section shown above).

Both of my partner's parents were into plants in their own way. His father came from a Georgia farming family and was an avid gardener who also maintained a collection of tropical plants in the greenhouse. His Japanese-born mother landscaped the front yard. She was adept at propagation, and was especially fond of propagating flowering shrubs. Unfortunately - the yard reflects the condition of the house when we acquired it: thirty years of plant collecting gone wild will require the same sort of dedication we applied to bringing order to the house. I must have removed several pounds of Hoya plant vine from the greenhouse - imagine nearly 15 pots of Hoyas left to its own devices for years. Visualize over a decade of volunteer mustard plants going to seed. Picture years and years of numerous ground cover plants slowly taking up more and more space - that is our project for the next few years. Being located in an out-of-the-way spot, at least we don't have to worry about the uninvited opinion of the neighbors.

As above, so below = As inside, so outside.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Poppy Frenzy II - Hop Right In and Watch Us Make Seeds

I work the macro function of my camera pretty hard, preferring to photograph plants up close and/or from unusual angles. As a future landscape architect, sometimes I wonder if I'll ever evolve away from this to images that are more "landscapy". In Twyla Tharp's book "The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life", she notes that individuals may be hard wired to create from a particular point of view - some love the up close detail perspective such as I, and some don't. Whew - thanks Twyla - its my "hard wiring" and I can't help it. She may not be the world's foremost expert on creativity, but I'll take it. Cross that off my list of "Things I Need To Change".
Its hard to resist the iconic poppy - and even harder to take a photo of them that is not cliche. Out of curiosity, I Googled "poppy images" to see how many there were out there via Google. How many? 4,760,000! Over Four Million images via Google alone. I guess I can rest easy knowing its tough to create an original poppy image.

Poppy Frenzy

As my flowers bloom throughout the year, I will become obsessed with one specific flower and will photograph it over and over until I have images I am satisfied with. At the present time its all about poppies. My light pink poppy was the first to bloom - only to break off right below the flower - pissing me off to no end - what the hell can you do with a decapitated poppy? Then it dawned on me to pose it with one of the many, many plants in our yard. I present to you: The Decapitated Poppy That Got Around.

First stop - the pot of Thyme

Second stop - the dark red Japanese Maple

On to the hostas

Quiet repose on some mossy rocks

Finally, sitting in the grass pondering what it all means