Garden Frame: Being and Becoming

Description: Overhead shot of a coneflower cluster taken immediately after a welcome summer rain

Background: I knew my garden would have coneflowers before even considering any other plants. They have a certain relaxed elegance that handles summer sun with grace. Here in Atlanta, the first round of buds appears in late April or early May, emerging from a bush of thick, dark green leaves, slowly climbing skyward. Each plant sends up multiple buds, and some years there have been so many that the main stem bends under their weight. The newly-emerged petals are usually a greenish-pink then mature to a rich pinkish-purple.  

At one point, three years ago, all but three plants died. I replanted in autumn by digging up and dividing one of the remaining originals into three. Adding to those three, the next spring, I ordered four small seedlings from a nursery. One of the seedlings died, but the three from the divided plant did well, although they had fewer blossoms than usual. The second year the new plants exploded, while the three from the original plant poked along. Last summer, the third season of the restoration, all grew in full and lush. Surprisingly, two or three new coneflower plants grew from self-seeding—a first!!!

Camera in hand, I went looking for subjects to test a newly-purchased Maxxum 7000, and while scouting, I noticed this group and how varied the blooms were in color and size. The patch was dense with foliage and blossoms, and wandering into the middle of it, looking down, I could see plants at every stage, budding, growing, blooming, thriving—being and becoming.   

Technical:   Maxxum 7000, Maxxum 28-85mm, Kodak UltraMax 400, overcast sky

Comments: One becomes attached to plants—possibly as much as with a pet. They require care and tending, and watching so many of my originals die-off was disheartening. Standing amidst my newly-restored coneflowers, I was happy and fulfilled in a way that makes no sense until one has weeded, tilled, watered, waited, and lost. Looking over their waist-high blossoms, I quietly rejoiced at how confidently they reached for the sun. 

4 Comments

  1. I think it was coneflowers that animators used as singing plants in cartoons. They seem to have a personality all their own. Flowers connect with us in a special way through multiple senses and can link us to special moments in life. Their lifespan is short but they burn brightly. This connection to singular life moments is similar to photographs as tangible objects that activate our memory stream. The first dozen red roses that I sent 46 years ago to my future bride for instance.

    1. Author

      I have no idea why I like coneflowers so much. It started long before gardening crossed my mind. As for snapshots and memory…I gave my wife daffodils bought from a street vendor while strolling on our first date. Some images never fade.

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