I had a bit of an adventure and will blog about it as soon as I learn what happened. Ordinarily at this time of year I would be out and about photographing crocuses. The Canadian sign of spring. Since that was not possible I had to find an alternative. And there was one. Christiane had bought some beautiful tulips. The Dutch sign of spring.
If the world gives you lemons; make tulips.
I love tulips almost as much as orchids. I have been as far as the Keukenhop Gardens near Amsterdam to see their lovely garden of tulips. Probably the best place in the world to see tulips. The tulips were late in blooming that year and we were on time. Not a good combination. But we still saw lovely flowers.
Did you know that at one time tulips were so popular that the prices skyrocked to such insane prices that when they fell as inevitably they do, it created a recession? The original stock crash. Something we are learning about again. I have been to the annual tulip festival in Ottawa a few times. The best place to see tulips in Canada. Canadian tax dollars at work.
But today I was confined to my house and yard, so I photographed tulips in my backyard. They were not blooming, I dragged them outdoors for better light.
My brother-in-law Norm took Chris and I together with his partner Monique and their daughter Margo to Mosaïculture. This is an international horticultural event being shown for the second year in Gatineau Quebec. The display contains 45 larger-than-life plant sculptures on a stunning 1km loop on the banks of the Ottawa River overlooking the Parliament buildings on the Ontario side. The exhibit uses 5.5 million plants as part of 45 sculptures.
Mosaïculture is upping the floral ante. Last year’s run saw three million plants, while this year, more than 5.5 million will sprout across the park. The number of plant-based sculptures has also grown to 45 from 33.
The astounding artistic display weds nature, culture, and horticulture in which the plants are designed a sculpted to appear like objects of art. For example they display a lobster fisherman, 3 ships from France, Bill Reid’s famous killer shale, snowy owls, polar bear, a howling wolf, bison, voyageurs, Glenn Gould’s piano, the 1972 hockey summit, Wisakedjakand the creation of the world through indigenous religion, the raven and the moon masks by a Haida artist, and many others.
To me the most interesting sculpture was of Mother Earth as described in North American indigenous belief systems together with the legend of Aataentsic who is really the same being portrayed as Gaia in Greek mythology, Terra Mater in Roman myth, and Mahimata in Hindu beliefs, Pachamama among South American indigenous peoples, among others. It is really the same idea expressed by different cultures. The sculpture of Mother Earth was inspired by the speech that Chief Seattle gave when he met American President Pierce and it captures the fundamental belief of many North American indigenous people that we are all part of the earth and inseparable from it. If this is true, as they, and I too for that matter, then it has profound importance for our relationship with nature and our environmental obligations which take on a spiritual impulse.
Tree of Birds
There was another outstanding creation: the Tree of Birds which featured 56 endangered avian species from around the world. Chris and I were photographed in front of this sculpture.
Of all the exotic flowers I must admit I like water lilies a lot. I also like orchids, and irises, and lilies. But water lilies are dear to me.
One of my favourite artists, Claude Monet, also loved them. He painted about 250 of them over the years. For the last 30 years of his life water lilies were perhaps his main subject. I can see why. His paintings are now on display around the world. Last year we saw many of them at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, one of my favorite art museums.
Monet painted many water lilies from his flower garden near his home in Giverny. I would love to go there to photograph them. There is a photo tour of that garden with a workshop for photographers each year. Attending that is high on my bucket list. Until then I will have to content myself with photographing water lilies in the wild or the English Country Garden in Winnipeg, one of my favorite places.
There are many varieties of water lilies but in Manitoba we have only two native ones. The white is my favourite Manitoba water lily.
I am a wild flower guy. It is as simple as that. But I also like exotic flowers, even though I know almost nothing about them. Often I don’t even know the names of them. I just like them because they are beautiful. That is why I like to photograph them whenever I can. One of my favourite places to do that is the English country garden at Assiniboine Park in Winnipeg. We went to a number of gardens, private and public, and these are just a few of the photographs I captured.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said “the world laughs in flowers.” Aren’t flowers grand?
We saw the Argentine Giant cactus (Echinopsis candicans) for the first time at the Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden by accident last year. It bloomed the day we were there. Usually it blooms for only a day. Now that is a dreadful pity. Imagine flinging such beauty out there for one day! It is a cactus that is not native to the Sonoran Desert but many people plant and nurture it. It is a lot of work for a flower that blooms for about a day. Echinopsis Candicans is a large columnar cactus with huge fragrant flowers that typically open only at night. When the cactus is not blooming it looks sort of ugly with its large columns that droop to the ground.
When it blooms it does so to stunning effect. The first time we saw one blooming we were shocked.
One of our neighbors had one that bloomed a brilliant orange.
Another had one with lovely pastel shades. It is little wonder that I love cactuses about as much as orchids. I was in heaven. I believe these were also Argentine Giants but I am not sure. If anyone spots me making an error in flower identification please let me know.