“What if you slept
and what if in your sleep you dreamed
and what if in your dream you went to heaven
and there you plucked a strange and beautiful flower
and what if when you awoke
you had the flower in your hand?
Oh, what then?”
~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Today, I finally downloaded these flower images taken some time ago and left forgotten on my camera while I negotiated my way through a stressful few weeks. As I watched the bright, happy images appear one after the other in the filmstrip on my processing screen, I felt an instant calm pervade my mind.
There is something so uplifting about gazing upon the visage of a flower ... something that is so tangible yet at the same time so difficult to explain.
I guess that is why I spend way too much time wandering through nature reserves, flower markets and gardens to photograph these magnificent subjects that link us to the earth and allow us to witness the miracle of creation over and over again.
Right from the tiny bright green shoots pushing their way up through the earth in the Spring and maturing into glossy green buds that open and unfurl, revealing their exquisite flowers …
… through to the magnificent orange, gold and red hues of the Autumn leaves falling from the trees to make way for the delicate blossoms of the new season, there is always something magical in the floral world to feed the soul.
Among the many joys I have found in photographing flowers and plants is the anticipation of the changes in light, colour and texture that each new hour, day and season brings.
On the occasions when I have returned the next day to a favourite location, I have found everything to be totally different from the day before – the flowers that were just buds the day before were gloriously open the next morning; the slight breeze that arose overnight gave a new sense of movement and dance to the images from that day; a softer light, filtered through the few gathered clouds played with the bright colours of the petals and imparted a tender, more sensitive feel to the resulting images; and a dull overcast sky the next day deepened the colours and brought out the finer textures and patterns of the plants.
This is the magic of the floral world for me – watching as nature reveals her secrets. Somehow all the stresses and concerns of my everyday life fade into the distance and for a short while I feel incredibly alive, aware and totally in the moment.
Flowers have always been valued for their inspirational beauty and soul-enriching properties and have been depicted in art, literature and music in all religions and in all cultures since the beginning of time.
In Greek mythology, Roses were supposed to have been created when the tears of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, were mixed with the blood of her wounded lover, Adonis. On the other hand, the Romans believed that the rose was created from the blood of Venus.
Henry David Thoreau, American artist, naturalist and essayist believed that we should measure our own health by our sympathy with nature. “If there is no response in you to the awakening of nature – if the prospect of an early morning walk does not banish sleep, if the warble of the first bluebird does not thrill you – know that the morning and spring of your life has passed. Thus may you feel your pulse.”
In another excerpt from one of his journals, Thoreau reminds us that “Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads” and we should take the time to make our acquaintance with nature, to know her moods and manners. He said often that "one of the most attractive things about flowers was their beautiful reserve".
And perhaps we should all take a little advice from Kahlil Gibran who said:
"Be like the flower. Turn your face to the sun."