July 27, 2003

Roadside Weeds

image copyright Fred First

Where has the summer gone! Soon, there will be signs that we have begun the transition into Autumn, and I am making a point to appreciate the floral accessories of summer now, just before they pack to leave us again. The roadside wildflowers that are so abundant that they might be easily taken for granted are at the peak of diversity now, with the early fall occupants already standing in the wings, waiting their turn for just another week or two. Very soon they will steal all the attention and the earlier tenants will move on, leaving behind spreading roots and a million seeds to insure another too-short seasonal visit about ten months from now.

Queen Anne's Lace (or Wild Carrot) is perhaps the dominant summer resident by both number, visibility and height until the towering Joe Pye Weed with its whorled leaves and mauve flowertops takes over the meadows. Chickory's sky blue almost always shows up in the understory of the white lace, and there are here and there vast fallow hillside pastures carpeted with blue and white that move in summer Hozannas under cathedrals of cumulus. Soon, the white and blue asters, purple Ironweed, and yellow or orange Spotted Jewelweed will constitute the pallette. They too will in their turn peak, pale and pass on in the grand procession of the unplanted garden of county roads.

I set out yesterday to commit these roadside boquets to digital record so that I could look back on them in a few months when winter drains the world of motion, color and roadside embellishment. There could hardly be a better place for photographing these 'weeds' than the quiet back roads of Floyd County on a sleepy Saturday morning, I thought. But I discovered that it is one thing to admire the blur of form and color at 35 or even 20 miles an hour from a moving car, and quite another matter to stop, find a place to pull safely off the road, and walk back conspicously a tenth of a mile to photograph a well-lit composition of sweetpea and milkweed growing pleasantly next to someone's mailbox or pasture gate. And there is another problem: the eyes take in the scene in panorama and in general form while the camera unforgivingly captures the particular, in all its busy-ness and clutter and depth of field. The mind does a much better job of vignetting the beauty of roadside gardens than the camera.

Posted by fred1st at July 27, 2003 08:37 AM | TrackBack

The most difficult part of photography for me is capturing the "grandeur","essence", or "spirit" ....whatever you want to call it..of the feeling of being there to witness the glory of nature's bounty. I've about come to the conclusion that no matter how good the photograph may be, that all the cliches about beauty are true. Those being "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder".."the kingdom of God is within you".
The majority of folks simply do not see the glory in the patch of unmowed roadside wildflowers, and the value of just stopping for a while and observing all the Life that is present in that little roadside patch. Sometimes it's wise to be selfish, put the camera way, and drink in the beauty just for yourself. If others want to have a drink, they must make the pilgrimage to the weedpatch themselves.

Forgive me for preaching, but it's Sunday morning.

Posted by: fletch at July 27, 2003 10:23 AM

Around these parts Naked Ladies (Amaryllis belladonna) are the floral harbinger of summer's wane...their graceful forms bob everywhere...one or two here and there...a clump where you least expect. They always make me smile.

Unfortunately they are too poisionous to grow around my doofy dog and plant munching cats...but there are plenty to enjoy afield.

Posted by: feste at July 27, 2003 07:34 PM

Feste--My naked ladies (a.k.a. magic lilies) are just swelling toward a bloom. They hold a special place in my heart because my mother gave me a start about 30 years ago and I have taken some from house to house.

Fred--Your vignetting isn't bad for a human. Beautiful pictures! You are right about beauty and the beholder. I believe that I astounded my Hunky Husband 3 years ago (our first summer in this house) by bursting into tears at the sight of our far back yard when I came home from work one evening. He had mowed down my meadow. It was just a bunch of weeds to him, but it was my meadow. In keeping with the city ordnances, he really did have to mow it down, but it broke my heart. I have established an oval "wildflower" garden (not that I've planted anything there; but it doesn't get mowed) out in the middle of the wild area. It's about 1/10th of an acre and is lovely with all the "weeds" that grow within it. HH has even grown to like it. Mrs. Shouse who taught English literature at Southeast High in KCMo once wrote a quote on the blackboard, "A weed studied, is to the soul a weed no longer." Unfortunately, after 50+ years I no longer remember to whom she attributed the quotation. By-the-way, all 3 of our crepe myrtle bushes are in bloom, as are crepe myrtle bushes all over town. As I told you before, many are up to the house eves, around town.

Posted by: Cop Car at July 27, 2003 09:43 PM

I adore Crepe Myrtles! A pale pink one graced my childhood bedroom window...it too reached the eaves. I can still conger up that mildly astringent smell and the beautiful bark.

They don't do well in my present foggy location...but we are planning to build next year in an ideal location and they will be included in the garden schema.

Funny story, HH's don't quite get it...my garden hose needed replacement...and the HH volunteered to get a new one on his next hardware store visit. I've spend three years developing a green on green garden...everything that isn't growing is flat, matt dark English Green or natural wood

Long story shorter...the HH proudly presents me with a very expensive butt-ugly black hose with a white stripe. The look on my face said it all. He returned it. I ordered a coiled dark green one online and he is still a little puzzled why the hose color was unacceptable..to him the quality was paramount.

We recently had a repeat with "S" hooks for the back-of-the-lattice storage...he bought red covered ones so they could be more easily seen in the shade.

BTW- HH is not a Philistine, loves the garden and has impeccible taste in all else...he simply doesn't see the garden as interconnected layers of form, texture, color and light...he thinks it grows that way.


Posted by: feste at July 27, 2003 10:15 PM

Thanks for the info on weed.

Posted by: Jennifer at November 24, 2003 03:59 PM

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