Sunday, December 8, 2013

Fading Beauty

Despite the frost, rain and wind that have sent myriads of leaves to the ground there is still the presence of the last stalwarts of the garden.  

Fading flowers and seed heads receive little attention or accolade though under the right conditions they can be seen as delicate little sculptures gracing the borders. 

They have a quality that is really only unlocked when the late autumn sun exhales its warm breath over their fading petals.  

Where decay can be embraced as a thing of beauty  and accepted as a natural progression in the course of nature.

rudbeckia flowers in November
Rudbeckia with glowing petals (taken with lensbaby optics)

There are the occasions when the bland, the beige and the translucent  turn golden on a frosty November morning.
Hydrangea  'Phantom'
the first glints of morning sunlight on Hydrangea  'Phantom'
Astrantia major
Astrantia major with a silhouette of seeds casting their shadow over the thin papery like remains of petals.
Hydrangea 'Phantom' flower heads in late autumn
Hydrangea 'Phantom' fading gloriously.  As one friend said - the flower that keeps on giving!
Humulus lupus golden hops
Humulus lupus with its dry golden hops.
Sedum 'Rose Carpet' seed heads
Sedum 'Rose Carpet' glowing despite having no flowers.
Where subtle beauty can be found in the smallest details.  Where texture, form and shape open up a whole new 'micro' dimension to the late autumn and winter garden.  You just need to look a little closer to see it!
Physocarpus diablo seed heads
Physocarpus diablo seed heads shaped like little hexagons.
Especially when they have a frosted sugar-like coating.
Euonymus alatus 'Compactus' seed head
Euonymus alatus 'Compactus' seed head - never prolific and always few in number.
rudbeckia fading away
A friend called this a Rudbeckia entropy a few weeks ago illustrating orderly to disorderly.
Eryngium sea holly in November
Eryngium is always the first plant to feel the warm rays of the sun in my winter back garden. It should come with a health and safety warning - Beware of sharp edges!

I'm never quick to cut down stems in the autumn.  Hibernating insects will appreciate a hollow flower stem to keep warm in.  While hungry birds will always enjoy a few seeds when the ground is covered in snow or heavy frost.  

Piet Oudolf may have just been saying in jest that a plant is only worth growing if it looks good when it's dead.  But how many of us really appreciate the beauty of late autumn fading into winter?  How many of us even venture out any further than the bird feeders to see it? 

What are your favourite seed heads or fading flowers in the garden?

You can view more of my  Perthshire Autumn images "The Spirit of Autumn" in the December issue of Fotodigital (click here to view online).

Thanks for stopping by today and I would love to hear from you.  Please feel free to leave any questions or feedback in the comments section.

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  1. I love to photograph seed heads much the same as you - Eryngium and Hydrangea, also Physalis when the cages are reduced to lacework by the frost, these are something I return to year after year. Also leaf skeletons are another treasure I can't ignore.

    Wonderful images and an interesting read as always Rosie.

  2. Poetic photos and writing Rosie! You've captured beauty on subjects that are more often than not unnoticed.

  3. Hi Rosie, i can imagine their beauty is much likely appreciated when isolated in frames like what you did! They are all marvelous.

  4. Hi Rosie, Beautiful images. I agree the winter and fall garden are full of interest, if we only slow down and look. Have a wonderful week. Jen

  5. Oh Rosie, your photos are sooooo magnificent! Love it very much! Like you, I like to take all these "dead flowers" and seeds... I have a picture of a Rudbeckia which look like yours (the first one) :-)
    Thank you for this wonderful pictures! :-))

  6. Hi Rose, do you remember me? I've not been to your blog for such a long time. You have beautiful pictures here - just as I remember from before. Hope you are well! :))

  7. What beautiful photos! My favourite seed heads are on grasses like Calamogrostis Karl Foerster, Pennisetum aloecuroides or Panicum Heavy Metal.

  8. Stunning images as always Rosie which capture the season in a nutshell. I've a soft spot for teasels at this time of year although not as fond of the seedlings that germinate in their thousands come spring :)

  9. I hadn't thought of embracing decay as a thing of beauty, but you have convinced me with your beautiful photography. P. x

  10. Nature does beauty better than any human endeavour. I like to cut a bouquet of faded, dried flower and seed heads to display in an old galvanized watering can by my front door.

  11. Beautiful images Rosie! I'm really pleased to see what the Physocarpus diabolo looks like now. I'm going to look out for one. :-)

  12. Beautiful. I'm always disappointed when I discover a plant I love fails to die well, though happily there aren't many in my garden.


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