Monday, February 15, 2010

Orchids - Simple, striking and so many images

"If nature ever showed her playfulness in the formation of plants, this is visible in the most striking way among orchids . . . [their flowers] take the form of little birds, of lizards, of insects. They look like a man, a woman, sometimes like an austere, sinister fighter, sometimes like a clown who excites our laughter. They represent the image of a lazy tortoise, a melancholy toad, an agile, ever chattering monkey. Nature has formed orchid flowers in such a way that unless they make us laugh, they surely excite our greatest admiration. The causes of their marvellous variety are (at least in my opinion) hidden by nature under a sacred veil."

From 'Exoticarum Plantarum Centauria Prima' (1678) by Jacob Breyne

I always find it interesting to see how different people describe flowers, how a simple bloom can conjure up so many wonderful images. A flower is not just a flower you see. I love the delicate beauty of orchids hanging on the stem as if floating in air. This orchid featured above is a wild orchid found along the roadsides in Malaysia. During our garden writers trip to Malaysia in 2007, I think our guide and driver thought this group of women were out of their minds. For as we drove along the highway, someone spotted the delicate blooms on the hillsides. "Stop the van" we cried. Our driver pulled over and we all jumped out and scrambled over the barrier and up the steep hills to photograph this natural beauty while the two men simply shook their heads. Oh what a garden writers and photographers will do to get an up close and personal look at nature in all her glory.

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