Visual Reflections. Nature Photography in the Age of Uncertainty: No. 32 (Collage of Cymbidium Orchids)

19 February 2018


Taken in Camera+ and Polamatic. Edited in Snapseed and Pixlr.

Cymbidium Orchids Collage Longwood Gardens; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Cymbidium Orchids Collage, Longwood Gardens; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Click onto image to enlarge. Let me know your response to this photomontage. Prints are available upon request.


These few words suffice for how I feel today, a day that felt more like SPRING than late winter. Today emotions and reactions exploded, inspired by serendipity and timing.

While spying on the bird station, a surprise came into view: six bluebirds. Those spirited creatures created an intense reaction–a reaction that speaks directly to nature’s gifts.

These birds have such appeal that I have spent the day bubbly with thoughts of their presence. While that may seem an overly strong reaction, it’s an example of how a moment can rearrange behavior and mood. How one moment can intercede to blend grace with joy.

But more importantly, those showy birds showered my universe, erasing the outside world. They showered my universe, allowing me to grasp the essence of the here and now.

Yes, bluebirds do bestow happiness, lighting the way with their sprays of blues and oranges and whites. They also speak to ritual, because for the last few years their appearance is a steppingstone to Spring’s arrival. And that is part of the source of my exhilaration. They act as a symbol for awakening, rejuvenation and renewal.


Let Your Winter Garden Go Wild” (by Margaret Renkl, 10 February 2018, The New York Times) appeared last week just as I was beginning to trim some of my perennial grasses. I’ve always left them as aesthetic additions to the winter landscape, but they also serve as hideouts for wintering creatures). Various native grasses fan across my gardens, drifting yet stationary as wind and rain and snowstorm bring them (temporarily) to life again. They conceal and reveal.

Renkle’s thoughts easily fit into my own philosophy of gardening. Every home cultivated by me has the sense of slightly tamed wildness. But winter is a time to provide even more habitats for the animals, and the untamed becomes part of the visual panorama.

With spring a month in the distance I am beginning the rounds to make small gestures to the landscape. The big pruning, trimming, rearranging and some removal will be weeks away.

Renkl’s article is a treat, and I encourage you to read it. Whether you are a gardener or a voyeur of all things in nature, it’s worth the time to sit back and enjoy her words. Here is a sample:

“An unkempt garden offers more than just food for the birds. The late offspring of certain butterflies, like the black swallowtail, spend fall and winter sealed away in a chrysalis clinging to the dried stems in what’s left of a summer garden. Others overwinter as eggs or caterpillars buried deep in the leaf litter beneath their host plants.

Most species of native bees — or their fertilized queens, at least — hibernate underground during winter. An industrious gardener pulling up dead annuals could expose them to the cold, and one who mulches too deeply could block their escape in spring. Other beneficial insects like ladybugs, lacewings and parasitic wasps spend winter in the hollow stems of old flowers.”

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20 Responses to Visual Reflections. Nature Photography in the Age of Uncertainty: No. 32 (Collage of Cymbidium Orchids)

  1. Tina Schell says:

    Wonderful spring colors in these Sally – and yes, I too found spring today. I looked out my back window only to see a beautiful bald eagle perched in the tree behind my kitchen window. A rare and much appreciated treat. Our weather is now in the 70s, hopefully not a sign of a brutal summer to come! Enjoying it while it lasts.

  2. Gorgeous. I love the tight framing, It almost looks like you have captured some fabulous, small creatures.

  3. Gallivanta says:

    The orchids make me think of dancers! And what a lovely harbinger of spring at your bird station. The ‘wild garden’ article is great. As you know, my own garden leans to wilderness a lot of the time. 🙂

  4. Love the photos and I’m off to read the article. Sounds intriguing.


  5. Allan G. Smorra says:

    Wonderful photos of the orchid, Sally. I like the idea of slightly tamed wildness on both a personal level and as applied to the landscape. We have been enjoying Springlike weather for the last month and last night it has turned cold (for California). Primetime for having a cat in the lap.

    • Allan, I have been an advocate of my slightly tamed gardens for decades. It suits my sensibilities and recreating habitats for all sorts of creatures. Spring is but around the corner. We are having unseasonably warm weather, and yet we had a fierce night snowstorm a few days ago. Thanks so much for your response.

      • Allan G. Smorra says:

        It’s funny, I guess I have been a disciple of the STG movement and just didn’t have a name for it. I like the way nature ebbs and flows much more than the Dewy Decimal-like rigidly ordered formal gardens. Lucky for us there’s room for every taste.

      • Exactly, happy spring gardening.

  6. Such beautiful colors, Sally!

  7. Su Leslie says:

    Beautiful montage Sally. I love the vibrant colours and the composition. 🙂

  8. Amy says:

    Glorious colors of the orchid, Sally. Beautiful editing result.

  9. pattimoed says:

    What a glorious sight…the first harbingers of spring! I know you’ll fully enjoy the moment, Sally! Love the color of those orchids you captured. Stunning.

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