Sunday, March 27, 2011

Longwood Gardens II: Every Flower's Got a Story

I suspect I get my love of flowers from my parents. They always had flowers in the gardens. My father enjoyed shooting photos of flowers, especially those he had grown himself. He experimented with light and filters and backgrounds. We have some nice dahlia photos of his, but most are in the form of slides. Perhaps I was channeling him at Longwood Gardens last week when I took about five hundred flower photos and spent quite a lot of hours sorting and cropping afterward. That's all I do--crop--I don't enhance my photos in any way. This post contains my favorite non-orchid flower photos.

That top photo is a gardenia. That was Mom's favorite flower. I don't remember her growing gardenias until my father passed away and one of her friends bought her a bush to cheer her up. It still thrives in Cape May, and is loaded with pink gardenias in mid-spring. The problem is, Mom loved white gardenias because she carried them when she got married in 1943. She didn't have a fancy white dress or professional photos to remember the day because it was wartime. She and my father were married in their uniforms, U.S. Coast Guard for him and Navy WAVES for her, and the white gardenias were the one luxury. There's now a white gardenia bush next to the pink one in Cape May, purchased in memory of her.

I do remember Mom growing roses. I have never had luck with roses (they practically die when I breathe on them), but Mom grew roses in many colors wherever we lived. Some of her salmon and pink ones still bloom in Cape May, but I don't get too close. I like this photo because I got the blurry background thing right.

Dad's favorite flower, besides dahlias, was the bird of paradise. I remember these growing on the porch of the Cape May house, but once we left Cape May for Staten Island, he turned over his plants to his friend Fred (a mechanic with a greenhouse) for safekeeping. This is my best bird of paradise shot from Longwood:

Generally, I favor hibiscus. Sometimes, I get them to grow and bloom in my own garden. Cape May is a whole different gardening zone from Hamilton, so I'd probably have more luck there except that I'm not there often enough to water them. But here's a nice shot from Longwood:

I pulled out my fish-eye lens to shoot the palm room. The window panes in the background and the palms themselves make a nice effect curved on the sides. There's another one like this that includes Fred (another mechanic, but without a greenhouse) holding my pocketbook. He doesn't like that one.
There's no story behind this shot except that I really like these flowers. I think it's the color. I have one garden beside my house that has almost exclusively this color blooms of different varieties with yellow flowers.

Finally, here's a vintage shot I took in May, 1977, of my parents at the Topiary Garden at Longwood Gardens. (This one I had to touch-up a little bit.)

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